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Monday, March 7, 2011

Ask the Vet, with Dr. Pat:
Pythiosis Treatment Options

by Pat Bradley, DVM

© Carrie Boyko
Meet Midas, Today's Cover Dog
Dear Dr. Pat,

My veterinarian just evaluated my dog for an upset stomach that has been going on for a few weeks. He suggested Janus might have Pythiosis and gave me a pamphlet that looks like it was printed from the Internet. It is written for a doctor, far to difficult for me to get much out of it. His explanation was not much better. He did say that surgery and some expensive tests are called for. I told him I would like to read up on it first and left, thinking I really cannot afford  any of it. I still hope the medicine (an antifungal?) and the food help him feel better. The doctor says Pythiosis can be fatal. I don't want Janus to suffer but if he doesn't get better, I cannot do surgery. 

Can you help me out with an easier to understand description? Janus is a lab mix, about 75 lbs and 6 years old. The doctor said he is at risk because of his swimming in a lake at my dog park and that is why he wants to run more tests. What would you do in my position? I love my dog. Thank you for your help, Anthony
How scary, Anthony. 

Pythiosis is a disease caused by an organism in the fungus family:  Pythium insidiosum.  Not all fungi are bad of course – mushrooms are also in the fungus family and they can be really tasty.   Fungi in general thrive in warm, moist environments.  This is why they’re more common in the Gulf States as well as in our gym socks.  Warm, standing water is the favorite environment for this fungus, so dogs that love to get into warm, standing water are the most at risk. 

Still, I hate for pet-owners to stop having water-fun with their dogs because of the fear of water-borne diseases.  Pythiosis is considered a pretty rare cause of intestinal symptoms in dogs.  We start to suspect it in any water-loving dog that lives in the Gulf States and has skin or intestinal tract symptoms that don’t respond to normal treatments.

Veterinarians dread fungal diseases, not only because they can be expensive and hard to diagnose, but because they can be unrewarding to treat in many cases—the drugs can have very bad side effects, and often they just don’t work.

Diseases that are expensive and difficult to treat with conventional medicine, like Pythiosis, are one of the reasons I love homeopathy – it gives people another great treatment option for their animals. If you’ve heard of homeopathy but aren’t convinced that it could work, here’s a link to a recent interview in which a Nobel Prize winning scientist validates the scientific basis for the way homeopathy works. 

There is a new and relatively inexpensive blood test to diagnose Pythium -- it’s new enough that your vet may not know about it yet.  And the USDA has recently approved a type of injectable treatment called “immunotherapy” for Pythium.  Both the test and the immunotherapy are made by Pan American Veterinary Lab, or Pavlab.  Check out their website for more information.

Hope this information helps, Anthony.  We’re all sending you and Janus our best wishes.


© courtesy P.B.

Have a question for Dr. Pat? You can reach us at LetsAdoptaDogPark@gmail.comFor a personal consultation about your pet's needs, visit Holistic Veterinary Services.

Dr. Pat's opinion or advice does not replace an actual exam with a veterinarian

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Anonymous said...

The numerous issues a dog can come into contact with in still warm water is exactly the reason we never go to the lake parks in warm weather. We ran into lots of "costly" care as a result of letting Midas go into lakes in warm weather. Good rule of thumb - if you can smell the lake, and it's not a good smell, keep out!!! By the way Carrie, cute dog on the March 8 issue :-) Thanks, Sallie & Midas

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Hi Sallie--so good to hear from you. How is our old friend Midas? Your strategy is shared by many of us in Central Florida for good reason. We hear the stories about illnesses from warmer waters all too often.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you again soon. Love to Midas from Tanner and Oliver.

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