3/19/2002 - 7/14/2006
3/19/2002 – 7/14/2006

My wonderfully talented 4-year-old male Labrador Retriever succumbed to Pythiosis in 2006. This emerging tropical disease is silently killing dogs around the U.S.

Most practicing vets have never seen this disease, so the information available on this site will give you more options in the diagnosis and treatment of your sick pet.

Pythiosis is an emerging tropical disease that was not seen in the U.S. 10-20 years ago when most practicing veterinarians attended vet school. Unless your vet has personally experienced this disease, they will probably NOT RECOGNIZE its symptoms and most DO NOT KNOW about the simple blood test to detect its antibodies or the immunotherapy treatment.

Early intervention is CRITICAL with this infection. The PavLab immunotherapy treatment continues to be the least invasive and most effective treatment option. Contact them at 800-856-9655 for information.

Join our PYTHIOSIS group on Facebook to talk to others fighting this disease!

PYTHIOSIS ALERTS (States which have had cases of Pythiosis)

Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Virginia. Bermuda.

If you know of a dog with Pythiosis, please help others and fill out this quick form to help us identify areas of infection.

Dogs lost to Pythiosis

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59 thoughts on “Home”

  1. Our 3 year old lab/pyranese mix died Sunday. RIP Bear, We love you Buddy!! (Skedee, OK)

  2. How is the treatment going? We have just sent the blood sample to the lab to find out if our 6 month puppy has this problem. Fingers crossed!!

  3. Mary, I’m sorry to read the post about losing your dog. I see treatment was started and she died not to long afterwards. Do you mind telling me how long did she has the illness before treatment?

  4. Michelle, how did your dog do with treatment? My friends dog started treatment today 🙁

  5. We just lost our 4.5 year old Airedale Terrier yesterday from this. It was so sudden. A few days of not eating well and then he died at the vet within ours. We are devastated. We live in a suburb of Houston, Texas named League City. My dog was an inside dog and never swam anywhere.

  6. PavLab has an early detection blood test which indicates exposure to Pythium Insidiosum with a titre test. Their immunotherapy vaccines have helped many dogs survive this disease.

  7. My 6 month old female boxer puppy is not eating as well as I would like. I lost Hershey to Pythiosos earlier this year. I’m trying not to project her loss onto Pebbles. But I am concerned.

  8. Our 22 month old boxer died September 5, 2014 of Pythiosis. We live in Birmingham, AL. RIP Laney. You will forever be in our hearts.

  9. My 2 y.o. German Shepard was just diagnosed last week with Pythiosis. We live just outside of Charleston S.C.

  10. We lost our Lab/Rottweiler, Drake, on October 8, 2014, in Arkansas. I wish I had seen your website earlier, we are devastated and heartbroken.

  11. We lost our Giant Pit/Lab/GreatPyr mix, Glitch on October 15th, 2014 just shy of her first birthday (DOB 10/19/13) from pythiosis. It had taken over 75% of her intestines and was spreading elsewhere. Currently worried that her sister and another dog in our household may be sick as well. Vet today with them. Located in North Charleston, SC.

  12. My 4 year old boxer Sadie was diagnosed with this a couple weeks ago. Started her on antifungals after finding out and she had started to improve. Unfortunately after adding 2 more medications to her treatment this week she has started to become quite sick again. Does anyone know of a dog who survived this and how..?
    Tulsa Ok…;-(

  13. My 3yr old Lab mix was diagnosed in June 2014. We healed the sore on his tail but my vet read about the LSU school of Vet medicine. There is a specialist that knows all about this and studies it. We had our dog’s tail removed and he is on medicine, itraconazole 300mg a day. He has been tolerating this medicine. When his tail was removed, he was on antibiotics and lamisil along with the itraconazole. So far he seems to happy, eating and playing like normal. We are in Hattiesburg, Ms.

  14. I am also from MS and my dog has this terrible disease. Live about one hour from Hattiesburg and would love to know who your vet was.

  15. my beautiful 3 year old blue tick hound was just diagnosed with GI pythium last night we haven’t started treatment yet or even know are options . Waiting to hear back from vet. So please everybody keep him in your prayers and I’m so sorry for everyone on this post who lost a dog to this horrible disease it breaks my heart ! If anyone has any input or helpful info please share . not many vets in my area I have ever dealt with this case

  16. Our 2.5 yr old black lab Gracie has pythiosis, confirmed by pathology lab at Penn. We are in PA.
    At first, we thought it was lyme disease.
    The vet detected an intestinal mass and she had surgery.

    With each course of treatment – whether antibiotics or antifungals, she recovers for about 1-2 weeks, then regresses, throwing up and lathargic. Currently she’s on Keflex, terbenafine and itraconazole 200mg per day.

    I’m thinking about upping the itraconazole to 300 and or the immunotherapeutic vaccine?

    I’d be grateful for any informed advice.
    Ellis Wilson

  17. I lost my 20 month old German Shepherd on February 21, 2015.
    He started with diarrhea Around Feb 1st and after multiple visits to the vet testing and treating symptoms we sent for a second opinion and by that time he had lost 16 lbs and stopped eating. He was euthanized during surgery because the damage was to great. His cultures confirmed pythiosis. I am very concerned for my other two dogs. Is there some way to test for the fungus in my yard?

  18. My sweet 2yr 3 month old boxer has been fighting this for months before diagnosis. Start anti fungal meds tomorrow. Say a prayer. Auburn university say only 20% respond. We love her so so much live in greensboro. Nc

  19. My 1 1\2 yr old pit bull Bailey was diagnosed with this disease about a month ago. She was being treated for an abscess on her neck and during the draining process the wound was opened, causing her to develope the cutaneous form (skin) she has been through 2 surgeries and being treated with anti-fungal meds and prednisone as well. I’ve spent every dollar I have on her treatment because she is everything to me but the hospital wants thousands of dollars for the immunotherapy treatment. Does anyone know of any foundations or organiZations that would help.? She is responding well so far I think she has a good shot!

  20. Message for Ellis Wilson

    Ellis – I live in Delaware and my dog was diagnosed in January. Where in PA do you live? My vets (John Pote of Willowdale Veterinary Centre in Unionville, PA) and Ann Jeglum of Veterinary Oncology Center in West Chester) had not seen this disease before. Ranger had surgery to remove 25 inches of his intestines and is on terbinafine, itraconazole, metronidazole, metaclopramide, and famotidine along with B12 shots, triglycerides, and curcuvet SA150. He just finished his 3rd round of immunotherapy injections and we have ordered a 4th. His last ultrasound 2 weeks ago showed he is stable – he still has evidence of pythiosis in his lymph node and abdominal lining (not changing in size) but nothing in the intestines. He eats well and is gaining weight back. He is active – in fact I have resumed his Field Trial Training on a limited basis. My vet John Pote said he would be happy to contact your vet to see what treatment he is using and share his treatment if your vet would like.

  21. Hi Lois,
    We live in Coatesville. I suspect Gracie contacted pythiosis in Cape Hatteras.
    My black lab Gracie died about a month ago. She completed one round of immunotherapy, but it was too late coming. My vet clinic did not have any experience with pythiosis – at the end I was directing her care – which in retrospect, I wish I had done earlier. She was a great dog, tail always wagging. You can feel free to call me at 610-679-5074 if there is anything I can do for you. It appears that you are getting your dog all the right care. You may be interested to know there is a compounding pharmacy in Arizona where you can get itraconazole cheap.
    Wish you all the best…

  22. Ellis – thank you for responding. I am so sorry to hear of Gracie’s passing. I can only hope that Ranger’s and Gracie’s unfortunate luck to contract this disease will bring awareness in our area so others may be diagnosed earlier. I am not sure where Ranger contracted the disease – he had not been out of the area for quite some time. I have learned that some dogs are resistant and others are not. I have other labs that swim in all the same areas as Ranger and no one else has been affected. I am keeping my fingers crossed and saying daily prayers that Ranger can survive.

    I get my itraconazole from Stokes Pharmacy in NJ. I am paying $59 for 30 200mg capsules. Please provide the name of your pharmacy if your price is lower. I am very fortunate to have insurance on Ranger and Pet Plan is great to work with and has been very helpful in making sure my claims are paid promptly.

    Thanks again for responding and please keep us in your prayers.


  23. Your price on itraconazole is a good one – hard to beat. The pharmacy I used is Diamondback drugs (866-646-2222), but as I said, you are already getting great pricing.
    God bless Ranger.

  24. Duke 3.5 year old Schnauzer passed yesterday at LSU he like so many others had the disease throughout his digestive tract Bless you for your site

  25. We loved our little Anne a Redbone coon hound,she was 4 yrs old when she suddenly died from it.
    She will be missed. We live in Florida
    I hope my other dogs dont get this too
    Is there a vacine or a treatment?

  26. Amy,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Anne. Cavanaugh, one of my King Charles is being tested on Tuesday and we live on the Space Coast of Florida. I too have other dogs and I’m scared that this horrible disease will take one or more of my dogs lives! Where do you live in Florida? I’d love to talk with about this further! My email is: knkmullican12@icloud.com
    My prayers are with you n your family! Kristen

  27. Our beautiful big beloved yellow Lab Cracker lost his battle with GI Pythiosis on Sept. 9th. We started the vaccine the day after after he was diagnosed in June. Exploratory surgery was not resectable. He had total of 6 vaccines but could not save him. My vet at least knew about it. Was the 3rd case he had. I live in Fort Pierce FL. Got a part Lab mix to fill the hole in our hearts. We will never let him swim in our ponds. Got Invisible Fence to keep him out.

  28. My daughter’s 2 year old sweet rescue pit Jax started with symptoms just over 5 weeks ago on 9/8. Her vet seemed to do what many do and thought it was an infection. After several follow up visits and tests she came home (an hour away) to our vet last week who looked at his records and immediately did surgery thinking there was an obstruction that just couldn’t be seen on X-ray. He saw the growth in his stomach and into intestines and thankfully began treating him for pythiosis. His growths were inoperable but he was given itraconazole, terbinafine and several meds for nausea.
    We brought him home on Friday 10/9 while our vet waited to hear from Dr Grooting at lsu who was out of town. Jax is awful to medicate and can spit out any crumb of a pill like you can’t believe. After a couple of days of trying to give him the meds which he fought with every ounce of energy and could not keep even food down bc he was so worked up, we stopped the meds to wait to hear from specialist whether we would even have any shot of success or were we just torturing him for nothing. He actually improved this week as he is able to keep food down through a syringe and has gotten stronger and much less miserable. Dr Grooting said she has not had much success in cases like his and the odds are against him but said she has had better results starting on prednisone first. This should shrink the inflammation and help him to eat. The eating will help him take meds (pulverized!) in food so we will be able to start back on the meds he needs.
    I am trying to learn more about the immunotherapy serum and also about an odd case I read about where a dog was given a crop fungicide as a last resort and had incredible results.
    We are sick over this horrible illness but holding on to a little hope. Any advice or help would be so appreciated!

  29. Here is information on mefenoxam (agricultural fungicide) from Efram Goldberg who posted in Facebook pythiosis. My vet is considering this treatment as well

    September 4 at 12:45pm

    Lois Gebrian – I’m sorry to hear about your dogs I hope they get better. I can imagine what you’re going through. I don’t think your vet needs a special license but I do remember signing a form stating the intended use was for off label. I believe UF actually purchases it as a pesticide bottle and then dispense it into a medication bottle. I can tell you in my experience so far it hasn’t caused any side effects and his liver blood values are okay.

    If you want to use it as a treatment I suggest you have your vet contact UF Veterinary School Department od Integrative Medicine and talk with Dr. Justin Shmalberg. He has over seen Darwin’s medications and has experience using mefenoxam as part of his treatment protocol. He should be able to tell your vet the dose, where to purchase it, any paperwork, and what side effects to watch out for. You can always call there yourself but I think there’s a better chance of your vet getting through more quickly. You can also find his faculty profile page and contact him that way. It might be easiest for UF to ship the dispensed medication right to your vet.

    Let me know if I can do anything else or if you have any more questions. I hope your puppies get better!



  30. The results came in last week. Positive for Pythiosis!! Started antifungals 6 days ago and got his first immunotherapy injection 2 days ago. Cavanaugh’s weight is steady, eating like a horse, activity almost normal and his stool varies from normal to loose with minimal blood visible.
    Keeping positive and enjoying every moment we have together! He’s an amazing Cavalier who steals many hearts. I was just getting ready to contact a therapy group to see about him being certified! If he beats this, I’m definitely going to peruse therapy because he was given the gift of life and could help others!! Keeping all dogs and families in my thoughts and prayers! Kristen

  31. Cavanaugh got his 2 nd immunotherapy injection 2 days ago. Still taking 2 antifungals and tylosine daily. He’s eating just fine, playing like a puppy should and his poops are almost completely normal. I’m adding a high calorie gel to his food daily to supplement his diet. I’m constantly reminded that he is still considered as having a “poor prognosis”. I’m trying to remain positive and strong that he will beat this. He started the antifungals about 2.5 wks and the immunotherapy 3 wks after the onset of bloody stool. prayers for all pups and their humans.

  32. My daughter just lost her chocolate lab (4 days away from his 3rd birthday) to GI pythiosis. He had what the vet said was complete resection one week ago. He was taken to the vet due to picky eating and sudden weight loss. He had no vomiting and normal stools when taken in. He spent two days on IVs and antibiotics and series of blood tests and X-rays. We were told that he had a partial bowel obstruction that would require surgery and that be done on Monday when our main vet got back in town. I spoke with this vet that Monday morning after surgery and he said he had taken 10″ of bowel that included 2″ margins of healthy tissue on each side and excised an enlarged lymph node in the same area. He reported that the other organs and lymph nodes did not look diseased. His initial impression was cancer. He sent the path report off and told us it would be 2-3 days to get the results. Mojo was sent home two days after surgery on a GI soft food diet and we were called that evening with the path report of pythium. Our vet acted like this was a far better path result than cancer. I researched the disease that night and the next day, I asked for immunotherapy. Our vet said he had consulted with several vets across the country and found it had low rate of success but would request the vaccines and let me know when he had them. After further consultations, he started Mojo on antifungals two days ago. Immediately after getting mojo home, we advised the vet Mojo wouldn’t eat the dog food.. He said to feed him whatever he would eat. We did scrambled eggs, canned chicken, rice, beef, soups, etc. It took a lot of coaxing and trying different things. This seemed to get worse each day; so, I asked for TPN. The vet said he was out of town and I was told by both my vet and his fill in vet, that if mojo was getting a couple of cups a day to not be concerned. He was having bowel movements that were improving in texture. Never had any blood in stools or vomiting. Last night I wake up to my daughter screaming from her room that Mojo wasn’t breathing. He must have passed right after they went to sleep. I am furious!!! I blame myself! I should have taken Mojo to LSU or Auburn where Mojo could have received the supportive care he needed.. Including the immunotherapy and proper nutrition. We live in Claremore OK.

  33. To Dawn:
    If it is any consolation, you are not alone. We had almost the same set of circumstances, vet advice, prognosis, treatments, etc.
    The only difference is that Gracie held on for several months before we euthanized her. I am not sure this was any better that Mojo’s path. She’s now buried on a farm that I’m renovating.
    Don’t be too hard on yourself. I’m originally trained as a pharmacist, have 3 different post-grad degrees, have developed new drugs all over the world – and I did not do any better than you did (probably worse). Pythiosis is a formidable disease. May Mojo rest in peace.
    God bless,

  34. Ellis-
    Thank you for your kind words. I am so sorry for your loss.
    If you are aware of any ways that I can help with awareness or research efforts, please let me know.
    God bless you and may Gracie rest in peace,

  35. Dawn,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Mojo. I can’t imagine what you and your daughter are going thru. The loss of a beloved pet is very difficult for many. If your not familiar with the Rainbow Bridge poem, I suggest you read it. It may bring comfort to you and your daughter. May Mojo rest in peace.

  36. ** Cavanaugh Update
    He started round 2 of immunotherapy today. He’s acting like a completely normal dog, very active, poop normal, no vomiting that I can confirm. He may have vomited once in the past 2 weeks. Still taking 2 antifungals, eating Science Diet I / D, adding vitamin gel to food and Nu Vet wafer daily. I’m sad to say that upon weight in last Wednesday, which was 1 week post the 3rd injection of round 1 of immunotherapy, he had lost .5 lbs, but held steady the past week. Cavanaugh had been holding his weight till then. I requested a 2 nd round of immunotherapy per Bob Glass’s recommendation.

  37. **Cavanaugh Update Continued
    His weight is down a total of 2.5 lbs since pre-illness annual check up. He currently weights 13.6 lbs. Going to increase meals to 3 a day as long as he can handle it. Next weight in is on Dec 1st. Not giving up yet!!

  38. **Cavanaugh Update**
    Cavanaugh received his 2 nd injection of round 2 immunotherapy today. Weight holding pretty stable, but still down 2.5 lbs from pre-illness weight. His activity is that of a young puppy! No signs or symptoms of illness. Just taking it day by day and praying that he can beat this. Another dog in my county was diagnosed within the past few months and was featured in the local news 2 weeks ago. I’m glad that pet owners and vets are becoming aware of this horrible disease!

  39. Lost my pup Somke to this horrible infection, he had if on his front and back left legs. We fought for 5 months to no avail. He is missed!

  40. Curious where this has been found in New Jersey? Is it more common in standing bodies of water? Is it treatable if diagnosed early?

  41. Jamie and Dawn, I am so very sorry for your loss. Our Jax is winning the battle but not completely out of the woods yet. Looking and feeling great though.

    Kristen: I was just thinking of Cavanaugh and hope he is still doing well.

    To all who find this page and are battling this awful thing:
    There is a pythiosis page on Facebook that has been an enormous help to me. Denise you can get your question answered there. I am so thankful that I found this site and that it led me to that Facebook group. We owe our dog’s life to the info found here because the serum saved his life and I would never have known it existed otherwise.

  42. I’ve been wondering about Jax! So glad to here the great news. Cavanaugh is doing well. He had a set back after his 2 nd round of immunotherapy, he had lost the weight he had gained the several weeks prior. But his ultrasound and bloodwork in early Jan 2016 showed progress in the healing of his intestines, lymph nodes and normal organ function. To Bob Glass’s recommendation, we started a 3 rd round of immunotherapy to encourage weight gain. His vet finally stopped putting “poor prognosis” on his progress reports! I couldn’t believe my eyes!! He has surprised all the Drs at AVS in Maitland, Fl.

    I may be a little premature in this question.
    Are any survivors receiving a yearly immunotherapy booster?

  43. My dog Bo (lab) was just diagnosed at Auburn University with this horrible disease. We had a previous lab (Oreo) that died from this disease back in 2008. I just got the news that BO has it today. He is vomiting but other than that, you wouldn’t know he has it. We have some decisions to make and would like some advice. The vet at AU said the vaccination is not very helpful. Options are: we could do surgery and meds, just meds, or nothing. I was so upset on phone that I didn’t ask what meds but he said it was two meds and one was around $30 a month and the other was $700 per month but could be gotten for around $350 per month. Please let me know if you’ve had similar experiences. He made it sound as though the outcome of surgery would not really be that successful.

  44. Jenny, are you on Facebook? If so please please please request to join the pythiosis group there. Tons of info and support.

    To answer your question: the vet has no idea about the serum. It’s not a vaccination but is an immunology serum. It helps the immune system respond to the fungus and absolutely has some success. My dog is proof of that. I honestly believe it’s the best chance dogs have against this and I never heard of it until I was in your shoes. (You can read about Jax in October above.). My vet didn’t know anything about the serum but it helped him to speak to Bob Glass with PavLab on the phone. Our vet spoke to the specialist at LSU who said the same thing your vet did. But what she didn’t say was that surgery and meds are far less successful. My vet was honest in saying that Jax’s prognosis was so bad that we had nothing to lose.
    The antifungal meds are a fortune and can’t seem to kill this thing. The serum works but timing is crucial. It is also definitely not a fortune. $150 for the three shots needed for one round. (We did a second round also). We stopped the antifungal meds with Jax within days because he was just throwing up more and we thought he wasn’t going to make it anyway. Since those first days, he has had ONLY the serum injections, cerenia for nausea and low dose prednisone. That is all. We stopped cerenia in November and stopped pred soon after. He has gained back all of his weight. His follow up ultrasound was Monday and our vet said it was very impressive. Where he had complete blockage in his stomach and further growth in intestines before he now has only a slight thickening in his stomach wall which might only be scar tissue. He has some enlarged lymph nodes but that makes sense as his immune system is working overtime.
    If you’re not on FB I would be happy to email you and can also include the person who started the FB group who has been a huge help to me and others. But I can’t say strongly enough that you have to get the serum. You will learn in this that you have to push and advocate for your dog because the vets just don’t know about this and were taught differently.

  45. Jenny,

    What Amy wrote is the exact same scenario for many of us!! I was told repeatedly to “Go home and enjoy what time I had left with Cavanaugh”. I pushed for immunotherapy and the specialists weren’t interested in trying, but what did we have to lose. In my opinion, you’ll have a lot to lose if you don’t try!! Ask what meds the vet was thinking of prescribing, Cavs meds were NOT expensive! Maybe bc he’s a small dog(15lbs). He was rx’d Tylosin powder, Terbinafine HCL and Itraconazole.

  46. Thanks so much for your responses. I have found the facebook group and that is a huge help and comfort to me!

  47. Hi. I am reading up on this disease since my vet just took an unknown mass from my 18 mo old german shepherd. He is acting normal and does not show any outward signs of disease. We are still not diagnosed and only know the mass looks fungal related. This is the “worst case scenario” my vet provided. So, my question, how long did the labs take to get back with a result? On Mon the lab was told to culture and I am still waiting for a response.

  48. Mary,

    It probably depends on the lab being used. But PavLab, Bob Glass’s lab, in Hutto, Tx runs the tests on Mon and Thurs and gets results same day. He was able to email me results by late afternoon. One thing I ran into regarding the results, was that PavLab doesn’t provide a numerical value, just a positive or negative results. And my specialists wanted the numerical value to compare pre and post. Being that this is such a rare diagnosis and vets are still getting the protocol down, I’d recommend 2 tests. One for the quick turnaround to start meds should it come back positive for pythiosis. And a 2 nd tests that provides the numerical value, which I’m told can take up to 2 weeks. Once ur pet gets the immunotherapy, ur pet will test positive of pythiosis for at least 6 mos post the last injection. So the numerical value will be handy long term regarding healing. I hope this helps, it’s just the tip of the iceberg regarding pythiosis. I’m not a facebooker but I suggest you search for the support and become a lil familiar with this horrible disease, just in case. I hope the pathology comes back negative for pythiosis.
    By the way… Where are you located?

  49. I may have misread your post incorrectly. Sounds like a sample of tissue was sent off, not blood work. Cavanaugh’s tissue sample took a week and a half to come back. But bloodwork ran by PavLab in Tx can get you a pos/ neg same day test is run.

  50. Several weeks ago I received amazing news! The specialist believes that Cavanaugh is in remission. He completed 3 rounds of immunotherapy. The 3 rd was advised by Bob Glass bc Cavanaugh hadn’t gain back all the weight he lost. Well now, he’s gained it all plus some!! We are still continuing the anti fungal meds, GI diet and his CBC lab came back great. Im still waiting on the results from the bloodwork sent to Auburn. Which I expect to be off bc of the immunotherapy, but my vet required it regardless.
    I hope that all victims can be as lucky as Cavanaugh has been.

  51. I am so happy to hear about Cavanaugh! Jax seems to be another success story, but I admit I still get nervous. We went through 3 rounds of immunotherapy also. The third may not have been necessary but no harm done. He has been off of all meds for months. This site and the Facebook group saved his life. I wouldn’t have known about the serum otherwise.

  52. I am concerned because a nearby friend has has a dog just diagnosed with this. I have 4 dogs of my own.
    We had a very unusually wet summer, but now have been in drought for 8 weeks.
    Does the spore die in dry weather? Or is it in the environment from now on? And what is the incubation period from exposure? Is there something to treat the environment that kills it?
    Thank you for any information you can provide.

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I have dedicated this site to my dog, Rusti, whom I lost to Pythiosis in 2006.