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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ask the Vet, with Dr. Mark: Are Amoebae
Dangerous to Swimming Dogs?

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
© Gilbert, reader copyright on file
Cahill Enjoys a Summer Swim

Dear Dr. Mark,

My Genoa likes to swim when we go in the boat or walk to the lake. We are careful about allowing her to swim in areas where gators have been seen. I was glad to read the articles here about gators and how to be more safe around fresh water.

My question is about the amoeba (ameba?) that I have read about that are dangerous to humans in warm water such as lakes and rivers during Summer. Is this something I should worry about with Genoa? She's a chocolate Lab that loves to swim as most Labs do. I hate to keep her out of the water and she has never had ear troubles or any problems with swimming. Are there any worries about amoeba for dogs? Thank you for your helpful information. Karen Y.
Hi Karen,

Great question!  Amoebae, Entamoeba histolytica if you wanna get fancy, are protozoan organisms that are found in tropical and subtropical regions; therefore we just don’t see many cases up here in New York, and I really had to do some digging to refresh my memory J.  Amoeba infections can be pretty serious in humans, primates, and reptiles, but are rarely an issue in dogs.  People usually become infected when exposed to food or water that is contaminated by human feces.  Yuk!  Right? 

© courtesy Water Project
 Humans carry the infective form of the organism and WE actually transit this issue to dogs or cats.  For the few number of dogs that do actually develop disease, it can cause a mucoid/bloody diarrhea secondary to ulcerative colitis.  Rarely these organisms can affect the liver, kidneys, and brain.  I said rarely, but I should say extremely rarely.  

The bottom line here is that it is not enough of an issue to make me even think twice about keeping a lab out of the water.  That’s almost as bad as keeping a fish out of the water!  This would be analogous to saying never go to the mall because you might catch a cold.  If Genoa would happen to get it, it is very easily treated with Metronidazole, an antibiotic.  If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.  Thanks for reading!

© courtesy M.N.
Dr. Mark
Dr. Nunez is a practicing veterinarian while also assisting patients through The Balanced Canine blog and his own online veterinary pharmacy

Have a question for Dr. Mark? Send it to You can also follow Mark on Twitter.  

***Thanks to the Gilbert family for sharing Cahill as a cover model for today's post.


Alfie from Alfie's Blog said...

Wow! Things are so much easier here in the UK where we don't need to worry about things like gators and Amoebaes! We do of course have the dreaded blue green algae, but even they don't turn up until its been really hot for a while and anyone who's spend summer in England knows it rarely gets that hot!

Woof - I'm off to have a swim now!

Sage said...

Interesting article. I try to steer clear of contaminated rivers and apparently we get some of that blue-green algae around Oregon.

Anonymous said...

I echoe my buddy Sage's comment. She loves to swim. I was going to send her your way to read it, but she's already here! Stop by my blog and see her winning slogan!

Just hopping by

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