NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: A few years ago, we got two Pomeranians. In May, seeing a proliferation of fleas and ticks, I let my guard down and went with my vet’s recommendation of Vectra. We applied it to our small Pom in the recommended dose and forgot about it.
Within three weeks, my healthy 3-year-old dog was dying; her immune system shut down, and she was no longer producing red blood cells or platelets. Our vet asked if she had access to rat poison.
More than $10,000 later — after transfusions, bone marrow and other tests, two weeks in the veterinary hospital and many drugs — she survived and came home. She has sort of recovered but is now sentenced to a lifetime of cyclosporine — her immune system is shot, and she’ll never be the same.
I welcome your thoughts and sincerely hope you don’t condone putting what is well understood to be horrible poisons onto an animal’s skin.
— B.G., Toms River, N.J.
Dear B.G.: I trust that you and the attending veterinarian have sent in a report to the company and also to the Food and Drug Administration. You can also report it at this website, dogsadversereactions.com/fdareporting.
As you may know from my newspaper column, I am fundamentally opposed to the use of these kinds of anti-flea and tick drugs. I receive many letters concerning adverse reactions in dogs and cats.
Even though Vectra is supposedly one of the safer of these insecticidal drugs, I advise against their use except as a last resort when all nondrug flea control and eradication steps fail. For details on such procedures, see my article on my website.
Check any of the topical flea-killing products on the Internet for adverse reactions in dogs and cats. They can range from scratching, panting and vomiting to seizures and death. If your dog was also vaccinated around the time she was treated with Vectra, an adverse reaction to the vaccination (called vaccinosis) cannot be ruled out.