Source of article:
"Before administering any medication, know what
the side effects are. I learned the hard way." -Mel
Rowdy’s Last Vacation
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Our beautiful, healthy, two year old Labrador Retriever named Rowdy is dead.
He did not die from the impact of the car that struck him and sped away without
stopping.* Nor did he die from the lacerations, contusions and hairline
fractured pelvis the x-rays revealed.
Rowdy died because I violated my number one rule when it comes to prescription drugs, "Always
ask about possible side effects before administering." I have preached this for years to others and yet, in my
agitated state and wanting to give our dog much needed relief, I neglected to follow my own advice.
This is our experience...
Thursday, March 22, 2007. We were on vacation
out of state with our dogs Rowdy and Duke when the accident occurred. The vet said Rowdy suffered a hairline
fracture of the pelvis but that he thought he would be okay. He gave us a bottle containing five tablets of
Previcox. Previcox (firocoxib) is a Cox-2 inhibitor and is an NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory
Drug) produced by Merial Ltd., an animal health subsidiary of Merck and Co. Inc. and Aventis,
The label stated '1 times daily for 5 days'. No information regarding side effects was given,
nor did I have the presence of mind to ask. Little did we realize, that with each pill, we were doling out death to
our beloved dog.
Friday morning, we dutifully began his doses.
Rather than give him a whole 57mg tablet as prescribed, we chose to administer half a tablet in the morning and
half that evening so he could rest comfortably at night. Prior to administering the Previcox (firocoxib), he had a
normal appetite and drank water as usual.
Saturday morning he refused to eat or drink
anything, so no pill was given him. Later that evening he seemed to be perking up so again, I offered him food
which he ate and water which he drank and drank. I thought nothing of it, nor did I give him any of the
Sunday he seemed even better, alert and wagging
his tail, he actually rolled over for a belly scratch. He tried his best to get up but the fractured pelvis
prevented him from doing so without help, so we slipped a long towel around his abdomen and gently lifted him to
his feet. This tried and true method was used long ago on two dogs we found at different times, Gimpy and Jack, who
had suffered the same fate. Gimpy's broken pelvis was so severe that the vet said he would have immediately put her
down had she been to the clinic that evening. Fortunately for her, it was almost midnight and back then, there were
no emergency vet clinics anyway.
Gimpy and Jack both received low dose aspirin (also an NSAID), for inflammation and pain and
made a full recovery, living many happy years thereafter. Since Rowdy's injury was nowhere near what Gimpy or Jack
had suffered, we opted not to give him any Previcox (firocoxib) on Sunday.
Monday, we began our nine hour trip toward home.
We decided rather than half a tablet, Rowdy would require a whole tablet (as the vet prescribed) to make him
comfortable for the long ride. Less than an hour after administering the Previcox, his breathing became labored and
many times he rigidly stretched out his neck and legs. Thinking he may have been too warm, we turned down the air
conditioning, which seemed to help. When we stopped for a break, he drank more water than usual.
Tuesday came and he seemed very tired. Although
he ate and drank, he did not have the stamina to hold himself up. We had to helped him walk outside and once there,
he would stand in one spot as if he were in a daze. We then had to carry him back inside as he would not move on
his own. We chalked up this behaviour to the grueling car ride the day before.
That evening, again trying to make him as comfortable as possible, we gave him a whole 57mg
Previcox tablet, his first tablet of the day. By midnight, he was projectile vomiting. Suspect that projectile vomiting is a symptom of poisoning - the body may be aggressively trying
to rid itself of a toxin. Drug-overdose patients often experience projectile vomiting. From
the article: How to Understand Projectile Vomiting.
Several times during the night and early into the next morning, he vomited until he was
physically worn out. He shivered uncontrollably followed by heavy panting and then throwing his head far back, he
would hold his mouth open wide as if trying to draw in more oxygen. Then all four legs would stiffen out straight.
He pawed my arm several times in a frantic manner as I lay beside him. By this time his gums were going a greyish
Wednesday morning he was immediately taken to
our vet and put on an IV. We were told to check on him at four-thirty that afternoon. Meanwhile, I phoned Merial,
the makers of Previcox (firocoxib) and told them of the situation. I asked how long until the drug would be
completely out of his system and was told eight hours and that there would be "no reach back residual effects" once
it was eliminated.
I then went online and started reading about Previcox (firocoxib) as well as other NSAIDS such
as carpofen (Rimadyl),
meloxicam (Deramaxx) and other NSAID’s, some of which had been pulled from the market after many
dog deaths. We felt certain that with what we were told by Merial, the IV would flush the drug from his system and
that evening he would be back to his usual self.
When we arrived at the clinic, the woman at the front desk said we could go back where the
kennels were, to see Rowdy. As we moved down the hallway, an assistant stopped us and asked us to wait where we
were. I thought perhaps they were situating an animal from surgery into one of the kennels, so never thought
anything about it.
The vet approached and asked "Are you here to see the dog that passed?" We looked at each other
dumbfounded as I said "No!" "Not MY dog!" He said Rowdy died shortly after noon.
I was numb. I could not cry or even speak as he led us to an area where Rowdy lay
motionless in the kennel. Anyone who has ever experienced a situation similar to this, knows the gut-punched
feeling that accompanies unexpected bad news. We were in total disbelief as we gathered up his lifeless body and
brought him home for burial.
The next day I spoke with the same person at Merial who had given me a case number the day
before. When I questioned why vets were not given the CIS (Client Information Sheet) regarding NSAIDS, I was told
they could “Send off for the information if they choose to.” Drugs which can and do adversely affect our animals
are routinely dispensed without any information. Why is that?
Would it not be good practice for vets to provide their clients with a CIS
before prescribing any medication, thus allowing the owner to make an informed decision regarding their
dog’s health and well being? My vet had never heard of any dog having a bad reaction to this medication and said he
routinely prescribed Previcox since it was one of the “safer drugs”.
"There’s clearly a breach between what veterinarians are reporting and what groups on the
Internet contend." Quote from Dr. Larry Glickman, professor of epidemiology and environmental medicine at
Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine on ProHeart 6, (an injectible heartworm medication
by Fort Dodge) reformulated in 2002 but pulled from the market in 2004 after numerous canine deaths. In 2008 it
was reintroduced to the market, not reformulated.
Previcox's own website under the tab Previcox
Which dogs should not take PREVICOX?
Your dog should not be given PREVICOX if he/she:
- Has had (Merial added the word "had" to their literature
in 2009) an allergic reaction to firocoxib, the active ingredient in PREVICOX.
Nearly all pet medications warn against use if the animal is allergic to . The problem lies
with the fact that until the drug is administered, how do you know if your pet is allergic to the main ingredient?
Such was the case with Rowdy, a healthy, two year old dog, who had never been on any medication. How could we have
An article published in 2006, entitled 'Why is Fido dead? Prescription drugs are killing dogs, too.', named Previcox (firocoxib), along with other NSAID drugs as being responsible for
22,000 cases of illness in dogs, almost 3,000 of which were fatal. The FDA website also carries this warning:
NSAID medicines can cause ulcers and bleeding in the stomach and intestines at
any time during treatment. Ulcers and bleeding can happen without warning symptoms and may cause
ad notes the following, "In rare situations, death has been reported as an outcome of
the adverse events listed above." Really? Are over 3,000 NSAID deaths (and counting)
Reports of adverse and fatal reactions to Previcox abound on websites and blogs. Tragic
experiences, one after another are cited while the veterinary world by and large has been lulled into thinking that
Previcox (firocoxib) is the panacea for all breeds.
How many deaths are mistakenly attributed to old age or a 'pre-existing condition' while the
real culprit is the prescribed drug? According to emails we have
received, gastric ulcers, renal failure and heart failure have been linked directly to this drug.
Other options which may have proven effective for Rowdy were unknown to us. Christie
Keith, in her article "What the FDA wants your vet to
tell you", shares information as to what vets should be telling their clients and which drugs can
safely be used with NSAIDS for gastrointestinal protection. Arthritis in dogs cannot be cured, but it can be
treated... (direct quote from Merials website) Anything can be treated. If arthritis is incurable, why not use
safer alternatives which are effective while not being cost prohibitive? Turmeric
Our mischievous, loveable Rowdy has now become another statistic, case number 07-18129 in the
ever mounting deaths in which Merial claims no responsibility. They did respond with, “We are sorry for your
Click here to read more Previcox
Monitor your dog for these possible side effects:
- Decrease or increase in appetite. (most dogs refuse food)
- Change in bowel movements (diarrhea, black, tarry or bloody stools).
- Change in behavior (decreased or increased activity level, lack of coordination, seizure,
- Yellowing of gums, skin, or whites of the eyes (jaundiced).
- Change in drinking habits (frequency or amount consumed).
- Change in urination habits (frequency, color, or smell).
- Change in skin (redness, scabs, or scratching).
- Unexpected weight loss.
By law, drug companies are required to report adverse effects to the
FDA. Anyone whose dog has succumbed to Previcox (firocoxib) poisoning, should contact Merial for a case number as
soon as possible. Your report to Merial advises them as to what is occurring in real life cases, not clinical
trials and affords them the opportunity to update their list of side effects included with their
warning. Merial's website with phone numbers for all geographic locations is: http://www.merial.com/ContactUs/Default.aspx
Would you like to share your Previcox experience? Submit the following
information to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dog's name, age, weight and your geographic location
- Why Previcox was prescribed and dosage (57 or 227mg)
- Length of time given
- Case number from Merial
- Photo of your dog
We had some land that we loved so
And to it often we all would go
As the doors slid open and we watched them run
Our beautiful boys crossed fields in the sun
Rowdy bumped Duke to follow his lead
Duke didn’t mind he followed, indeed
Flushing out a rabbit, it disappeared into thin air
They then tussled with each other, they hadn’t a care
But Rowdy is now gone and Duke wanders alone
A bit unsure of what to do on his own
And now as the doors slide open again
Duke steps out slowly, minus his friend
It is never the same, it never can be
No, life’s not the same without his Rowdy
If your dog is displaying symptoms of Previcox poisoning and you are not able to immediately
take him to a qualified vet, consider using activated charcoal to help rid his system of the
toxin if it has been less than an hour after taking the drug.
Previcox test studies
Mandatory Client Information
* Rowdy was not roaming freely about when he was
struck by the vehicle. We were visiting with friends in their fenced in back yard when our friend, a
beekeeper, noticed his bees swarming and leaving the yard. Trying to keep them in sight, he was looking
up while opening the gate and that is when Rowdy beside him, darted across the road toward a dog who had been
barking most of the morning.
Updated: November 15, 2010