A Leash Above

Exceptional pet care under your "woof"...

pet health

Warning About Trifexis

If you have a dog on Trifexis, you need to listen to this report.


(Per the report):


Grieving animal lovers across the country are coming forward blaming a popular pet drug for killing their dogs. Channel 2 Action News has uncovered several cases in Metro Atlanta.

“It’s like a piece of your heart is being torn out,” said dog owner Beth Timms from Gainesville.

Her dog, Gizmo, died after taking Trifexis. The once-a-month pill made by Elanco is a combination pill for heartworm, parasites and flea prevention. Elanco is the animal health division of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly.

Gizmo was a healthy 12-year-old mixed-breed. Shortly after taking Trifexis for the first time, she suffered lethargy, vertigo, seizures and a 106-degree temperature.

“We had to let her go. We had to have her put to sleep,” Timms said. “I killed my dog.”

Timms emailed consumer investigator Jim Strickland after finding a Facebook page titled “Trifexis Kills Dogs.”

Owners from all over the country have posted on the page, blaming the drug for their dogs’ deaths.

The Facebook page led Strickland to a home in Sandy Springs, where a dog bowl still sits empty in the corner. The dog who once used it was a puppy named Bishop.

“He died. For no reason, no warning,” said Bishop’s owner Jenny Schmitt.

Bishop was a 16-week-old Vizsla, which is a Hungarian hunting dog. He was one of seven in a litter born in June from an American Kennel Club Grand Champion.

Three of Bishop’s litter mates are thriving in Florida. A fourth is a healthy puppy living Buckhead. None of them has ever had Trifexis.

Bishop and the other two litter mates, named Tucker and Jade, each received their one and only dose of Trifexis in September. Bishop and Jade died within three weeks. Tucker died in six days. Veterinarians ruled they all died of heart inflammation.

“I think Eli Lillly and Elanco need to ask the broader question, ‘Does this drug even need to be on the market?'” Schmitt said.

Elanco is headquartered outside of Indianapolis. Strickland went there to speak with one of Elanco’s top veterinarians. Dr. Stephen Connell insisted Trfiexis is safe. He said he gives it to his own dogs.

Connell said Elanco has dispensed 50 million doses since Trifexis hit the market less than three years ago.

“We don’t like the fact that it has killed any dogs. But with any pharmaceutical product, we understand that the very rare sensitivities, allergic events — those types of things are going to happen,” Connell said.

Elanco’s spokesman later said Connell didn’t mean to say the company doesn’t like that Trifexis killed any dogs, but rather the company doesn’t like hearing reports of any deaths.

Strickland got the numbers on reports about Trifexis made to the Food and Drug Administration. The latest figures are as of April 2013.

Pet owners have filed 2200 reports of the drug causing their dogs to vomit. There are 600 cases of lethargy, and 31 reports of dog deaths. That’s about one per month since the drug hit the market.

The warning on the Trifexis box states mild side effects. Connell admitted to Strickland that the company has gotten reports of dogs suffering seizures, but Elanco has found no link to any dog deaths.

A University of Georgia Veterinary School pathology report on Bishop’s death stated a bacterial infection likely caused the dog’s heart failure. It ruled his symptoms were not typical of drug toxicity.

Trifexis contains two drugs, spinosad and milbemycin.

“The spinosad is from the United States. The milbemycin is sourced from China” said Connell.

He added their Chinese supplier has had multiple inspections and is a non-issue.

He also addressed the deaths of the puppies.

“It is our opinion that there are other factors involved in this case,” Connel said.

Bishop’s owner doesn’t believe that.

“The three puppies that all died within the same week, all had Trifexis, all around the same time,” Schmitt said. “It’s a heck of a coincidence.”
( Ingredient’s From CHINA )


Messages From Heaven

These last days have been very hard. As pet lovers, you know the grief we have been feeling and the process of trying to work through that grief. Something very funny happened to me on Thursday afternoon.

On the way back from my son’s doctor appointment, I thought I’d stop at the grocery store to get some bread for dinner as it was my husband and my 21st wedding anniversary. The store is not one that many go to anymore because of their higher prices, and with the road construction occurring around it, it is difficult to reach. As I turned left into the parking lot I said to myself that it would be funny if we just happened to see a golden. I was missing Maddie so much that I felt if I could just see a golden retriever I would feel better.

I parked, looked up and directly in my rear-view mirror I saw a golden retriever! I jumped. It was like how you see in the movies where the person in the movie gets into the car and looks up to find the killer in the back seat of the car.

I was exhausted. I actually rubbed my eyes and looked again and sure enough it was a golden retriever who was looking directly at my car. If I had parked one space over, or somewhere else in the parking lot (and I did think about parking closer to one end and decided to go over where there were fewer cars so my new car did not get dinged), I would not have seen the dog in my rear-view mirror (or might have missed it entirely).

Message from heaven

Message from heaven

As we got out of the car, I started walking over to that car to see the dog and I took a picture because I thought — Jeff is NOT going to believe this story at all. He/She barked at us with the “woo-woo-woo” bark with his/her head straight up in the air. The bark happened twice and the rest of the time it just stared at us. And I swear the dog was channeling Maddie.  Messages from heaven are awesome.

Maddie’s Final Days

If a death can be perfect, then we just experienced it.

On Tuesday, the diagnosis of lymphosarcoma was confirmed. Maddie was not having a good day. She lay in her spot for hours. She was not drinking or eating. She showed me her teeth when I tried to move her. Jeff and I talked and I told him I didn’t think she would last until the end of the week especially if she was not drinking water.

Maddie loved life

Maddie loved life

After Jeff and I agreed that there was no reason to wait to have this done, it was just a matter of scheduling. They were able to get us on the schedule for 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, October 23, 2013.


Tuesday night, it was all about Maddie. There were several times during the night where she rallied and looked happy. She drank and she ate. She adored the chicken we gave her. I allowed her to eat a half of a bag of pumpkin/blueberry treats. It appeared she was hungry but only for the treats. Forget that crappy dog food! A few times she went out back. She had time to hang out around the pool. We let her have some alone time outside. When she didn’t come in for awhile I went out to be sure she wasn’t in a corner somewhere, and I found her in the pool. She was not swimming, but she had both her paws on the first step in. Of all places, this was her most favorite. She needed help getting out. I made her carob/peanut butter treats. I wanted to save most of them for Wednesday, but I did give her one or two.

Maddie ate these

Maddie ate these

I had planned a pajama party for her. When she first came to our home as a puppy, she had a lot of problems adjusting to the crate. I had our inflatable bed blown up and I spent weeks with her every night. She was loud enough that she was going to wake my son up, so I stuck my hand in the crate through the slats to pet her, to let her smell me. I even got my hand stuck in there a few times and hurt it! (Ah, the things you do for love!). Eventually I was able to take my hand out, then move my inflatable mattress further away, then to the couch, then to my bedroom. For her the crate was always treated as a good place to be. Of course eventually she ended up in our bed, but that is another story. Laying with her on her last night on this earth seemed right; however, my old air mattress was not going to cooperate.

And these (a half bag of these)

And these (a half bag of these)

About 2:30 a.m. I heard her from my bedroom. I thought perhaps she needed to go to the bathroom. I let her go outside and once again she stayed there for awhile. When she came back in, I got her settled on her blankets in the living room. I was petting her and decided it wasn’t so bad on the floor. I brought out my blanket and it was so adorable. She had her paw near my arm and chest, and she tucked her nose under the blanket–just like how we used to nap together. I fell asleep and didn’t even hear Jeff get up to go to the gym. At some point between 4:00 a.m. and 6:15 a.m., I woke up, saw that she moved away from me, and I popped back into the bed to get some sleep for the long day ahead. After Jeff got home from the gym but before Patrick woke up, he spent some time with her on the floor.

But these were her FAVORITES.

But these were her FAVORITES.

We got Patrick off to school and I got into the shower. I had to leave at 9:20 a.m. to see my clients. I needed to be back at our house by 11:30 if we were going to be able to keep to the schedule and be on time. I was grateful for the distraction but found myself having several panic attacks.

Maddie in her prime.

Maddie in her prime.

Jeff was able to have some alone time with Maddie. He was able to get her outside. He said when he was crying, Maddie came over and licked him and then put her paw on his arm. She was helping him to know that it was okay. I was grateful they had time alone.

Oh no!  Not spoiled AT ALL!

Oh no! Not spoiled AT ALL!

Jeff and I made a pact that we would support each other. Regardless of the signs we saw that might point to her feeling better, we needed to do this for her. This now was about her and any feelings that might creep in were selfish.

You love my crooked tooth!  Yes, Maddie.  Yes, we did.

You love my crooked tooth! Yes, Maddie. Yes, we did.

Since she was still in the backyard and not back to a laying position, I got her leash and just walked her out to the car. With a little help, she was eager to jump right up. This is very weird. She disliked going in the car except for a brief time in her life when she would drive to Patrick’s school to get him (a 100-mile round-tip drive). Jeff stayed in the back with her. We helped her get down. I wondered if we should allow her to get one last moment outside, but she was pulling us towards the door. They got us right into a room. We fed her treats nonstop. We asked if we could see the x-ray so we could visually wrap our heads around this all. I am so glad I asked. There was really no room left in this poor dog’s chest cavity between the mass and the heart. They already had the catheter in her front paw. I asked if she would be on the exam table or if we could have her in our lap. They felt it was better on the exam table, but they put blankets down for her. We said final goodbyes privately, but when she was on the table, she looked a little scared. We told her that she had been an awesome dog and we loved her very much but we did not want her to be in pain. As the medicine was being infused (the kind that would stop her heart), we told her to go, be at peace, we would be fine, we loved her, go find grandpa and Sam and Buddy and Patrick’s brother Matthew and we would see her again when it was our time to go. I asked the tech — Has her heart stopped already? Has she stopped breathing? Is she technically considered dead?

They warned us that the brain might be hyperexcited from the medication being administered and warned us of weird things, even what might look like struggling, but it was physiological response. She had none of that. It was over within 1 minute. The tech (Buffy I LOVE YOU) said she was ready to go since everything went so well.

They let us stay until the end. I laid my head on her and it almost felt like her chest cavity moved a little bit. I asked them if they could please make sure that she indeed was not breathing anymore and they thought it was just the post-death gurgling noise. They let me listen in the stethoscope.

I love belly rubs!

I love belly rubs!

The last thing she tasted was her treats. The last faces she saw were of us. The last feeling she experienced was of love and of release of her job as our dog. Of course she was more than a dog to us, but those are our human feelings we placed on her that made her feel like our child.

The indignities we made her endure.  :-)

The indignities we made her endure. 🙂

We both felt relief when we walked out. We are both experiencing moments of sorrow, and moments where we have a minute or two where we just burst out into tears. But this place is familiar to us and we will get through it.


Her last Christmas with us.

On a humorous note, driving home we saw something on the highway that just made us laugh out loud. We live in an area where there are a lot of coyotes. They have brazenly walked our neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning looking for food. Teasingly, when Maddie would misbehave, we would joke with her, saying if she didn’t watch it, we would feed her to the coyotes. They would find her tender golden retriever meat to be absolutely delicious. (OF COURSE WE TEASED). I turned my head as this truck passed and it said, “3-D Wolf Transport.” After laughing and Jeff staring at me, I said, “Look at the name of the truck.” He didn’t get it. So I reminded him of the story. I have never seen a truck with that name for as long as I lived in Texas. Was it a sign already from Maddie? I don’t know. It provides me a lot of comfort to think so.

The last picture we took of her, happy that dad was home, on October 22, 2013

The last picture we took of her, happy that dad was home, on October 22, 2013

Stories of Maddie Part 1

On Monday, I was shocked to discover my golden retriever, Maddie, had lymphoma. It was not a diagnosis I imagined to get. When we brought her in that morning she was having difficulty breathing and I thought she had an allergic reaction to something. This dog walked 2 miles Sunday without any difficulty whatsoever. The mass in her chest is about the size of her heart. All her lymph nodes are engorged. We have had her since she was 7 weeks old. She just turned 6 in May. Not enough days…not enough days. Whatever time she has left we will make them wonderful for her. I thought you all might like to know more about this amazing little fur baby.

Maddie at Pick Up Time

Maddie at Pick Up Time

Before she was Maddie, she was known by the breeder as “tail.” She was marked with a pink spot on her tail. Her mother and father were champion hunters. Because she had a crooked tooth, she would not be able to be part of hunting trials. The woman, Mercedes Hitchcock, was taken by Patrick’s story. I shared that we had just lost our rescue golden retriever, Buddy. Buddy stunned us when he alerted us that my son was having a seizure on our bed. We wondered if a dog that came from a line of hunters could be trained to smell pre-seizure activity and warn us. And we wanted a puppy again. The group we did the adoption with for Buddy felt an older dog was better for us and would not give us a puppy. This road didn’t seem like an option to us. I understand there are a lot of shelter dogs and I believe in adoption, but we had what I felt were a special set of circumstances that made it okay for us. Mercedes came with high recommendations from other breeders in the area. She did not sell her puppies on the side of the road. She did not even advertise. She did not even have a web site.

If you look at where the tail starts on her back end, you'll see the pink nail polish mark.

If you look at where the tail starts on her back end, you’ll see the pink nail polish mark.

It took us a few weeks to come up with a name for her. We discovered her brothers had some powerful names: Belvedere’s Mercedes Benz (aka Ben) and Belvedere’s Indiana Jones (aka Indy). Having both been from New York and the fact that golden retrievers are excellent marketers, we finally settled on Belvedere’s Madison Avenue (aka Maddie). She grew into wearing the “bling.”

She looked good in bling!

She looked good in bling!

I hope to share some funny stories with you about her in the days ahead. It will help us to cope with the overwhelming grief we are now experiencing.

Since the diagnosis has been confirmed and she is struggling a great deal, we have an appointment with our vet tomorrow, Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 12:15.

Canine Degenerative Myelopathy

Yesterday, I said goodbye to a friend, Inga. She was the fur-kid of my good friend and I had known her since she was puppy. We spent a lot of time together this past year-and-a-half. Although Inga was incredibly smart and playful, she also seemed to have the ability to read my mind. We enjoyed walks together, sitting out in the backyard and watching the sun setting, then going inside and playing with her squeaky toys, especially her octopus. I will always remember the time I was laying on the floor and she pounced on my head like she did her octopus. It was a riot and made me laugh so hard.  When the lawn people would come to mow, when she was let outside the first time after they left, she would run to the side gate because she knew they were stupid enough to leave it open and she could get out (she would always come back when told to, but it was like a game to her).


Me trying to get a selfie of me & Inga but Inga kept trying to kiss me.

I saw her on October 10th when I was visiting my friend. Inga was wobbly in her hind legs, but not any more than usual. When I went to care for her yesterday, I noticed a dramatic difference in her functioning.  My friend decided today that she would take her into the vet and let her forever rest.  It was hurting her to see Inga this way even though Inga was not in any pain. She was worried Inga would break her legs.


The last pic I took of Inga on Wednesday.

What did she have? Canine degenerative myelopathy. Below is a video of what it is all about. If you have any of the larger breed dogs, especially German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, etc., get to know what the symptoms are.


Recently, researchers have made a connection between canine degenerative myelopathy and human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease that may help them discover treatment methods to help both. Read more here.

I will never forget Inga. She had such a unique personality. Blessings in your life come in all forms. She came into mine full-force on all fours. Be at peace my sweet friend.


Canine Hip Dysplasia

Twenty-five to thirty percent of all dogs in the United States suffer from canine hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a genetic progressive disease associated with abnormal hip formation which causes laxity in the muscles, connective tissue and ligaments that support the hip joint and keep it in place.

Symptoms include difficulty getting up from and down into a lying position; reluctance to walk, run, climb and descend stairs, jump or play; frequent sitting during long walks; “bunny hopping” gait in which the legs move more together when running rather than swinging alternately; reluctance to extend rear legs; inability to stretch; shifting weight; vocalization on handling.

Many of the large and giant-breed dogs are susceptible, but also smaller breeds like bulldogs, French bulldogs and Shih Tzus are vulnerable. Obesity is a major risk factor.

Diagnosis is made by your vet based on observations, physical exam and radiology. A new screening method called PennHIP developed by the University of Pennsylvania can determine the potential for hip dysplasia in dogs as young as 16 weeks of age.

Treatment can be as conservative as controlled exercise and conditioning, weight control, heat and nutritional therapies. Surgery is also sometimes indicated which include total hip replacement, femoral head osteotomy and double and triple pelvic osteotomy. Prolotherapy is a noninvasive surgical alternative. This involves injecting dextrose and vitamin B12 in combination with lidocaine or something similar into the tendons and ligaments. The solution stimulates the body’s immune system to rebuild new tendons or ligaments. Prolotherapy has been used in humans for quite some time so it is not a new approach to healing.

Prevention: If your dog shows symptoms later in life, it is too late to prevent joint degeneration. The best approach is early screening of dogs at risk and lifestyle measures.

As with all health issues, discussion with your vet is the key for prevention and treatment. For more information about hip dysplasia, see the ASPCA’s web site: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dog-care-hip-dysplasia.aspx