ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - After a scary experience at the veterinarian's office, an Albemarle County woman is sharing her story hoping to help other people and their dogs.

Tara Savage says she brought her dog, Jax, to the vet two weeks ago. Among other things, Jax got a shot to fight heartworms, and that's when things went wrong.

The dog is fine now, but it was a close call.

During Savage’s visit, a veterinary technician offered to give Jax a six-month dosage of heartworm medication in the form of a shot called ProHeart 6.

Savage agreed, but within minutes her dog had an allergic reaction. Jax started throwing up and would not get up.

“We tried to get him to stand up, and he tried to stand up, but he couldn't. And then he literally just collapsed, and they luckily were right there, and they took him back into the back and they started working on him,” Savage said.

Thankfully, veterinarians at the clinic were able to treat the dog. That office declined to talk on camera, but it's something other medical experts are familiar with: “I think that just like people can have anaphylaxis to antibiotics: It's just part of the whole spectrum of we're trying to prevent or treat diseases, and unfortunately for a small percentage of the population, pretty severe reactions can happen,” explained Dr. John Andersen, a veterinarian at a different clinic.

It's important to note that there have been more than 20 million doses of ProHeart 6 sold in the United States over the last 10 years and cases like this are rare.

The drug was voluntarily recalled by the FDA back in 2004 because of a number of adverse reactions, but was re-introduced in the U.S. in 2008.


Statement from Zoetis:

Zoetis colleagues, many of us pet owners, care about the well-being of pets, and we are committed to providing safe and effective products to veterinarians, pet owners and the animals in their care. We can all sympathize with the frustration and concerns of pet owners when their pet is sick.

We at Zoetis have been in contact with Ms. Savage’s veterinarian and the afterhours clinic that helped to treat Jax, and our examination of this case is ongoing.

ProHeart 6 is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of heartworm disease and treatment of hookworms. ProHeart 6 has been marketed in the U.S. for over 10 years, with more than 20 million doses sold.

As with any medication, adverse reactions can occur, but with ProHeart 6 are considered rare.

The most common adverse events when administering ProHeart 6 are allergic and gastrointestinal in nature. A majority of these events occur within 24 hours of administration and resolve within 24 hours after they develop.

The rate of adverse reactions is comparable to those of two commonly used monthly oral heartworm disease preventatives in a peer-reviewed study.

Zoetis takes a proactive approach to assuring responsible and medically compliant use of ProHeart 6:

  • Zoetis provides tools and resources to veterinarians to help veterinarians communicate the benefits and risks associated with ProHeart use. Veterinarians play a critical role in educating pet owners on the risks and benefits before administering ProHeart 6. A Client Information Sheet with easy-to-understand information is also provided to dog owners whenever a veterinarian administers ProHeart 6
  • Zoetis advises that ProHeart 6 should only be administered to healthy dogs. Veterinarians should not administer ProHeart 6 to sick, debilitated, underweight dogs or dogs that have a history of weight loss.

Heartworm disease in dogs is potentially fatal, but easily preventable. A single missed dose of monthly medication can put a dog at risk for this deadly disease. ProHeart 6 reduces these potential gaps in protection with its unique extended-release formula which provides continuous protection for 6 months.