Buster Blue: May 27, 2012 – August 26, 2013

Our sweet Buster Blue passed away yesterday.

May doggie heaven be full of big bones to chew….


….big fish to catch…


…fluffy down pillows to sleep on…


…baby ducks to sniff…

…no baths….


…and new best friends…



Pythiosis: Swamp Cancer

Buster’s death was sudden. We didn’t even have a chance to say our goodbyes. For the past few days, he wasn’t able to keep food down and just lost so much weight. We thought it was just something he ate that didn’t agree with his stomach, or just sick. Yesterday, Scott brought him to the vet – we were just expecting antibiotics and instead, the vet instructed us to bring him to the emergency center.

After an ultrasound, the vet told Scott that Buster needed surgery. There was a foreign object in his intestines. This didn’t surprise me, as Buster has a habit of getting into things all of the time, he’s chewed up remote controls, stolen eggs from the hens, chewed up our car fender and eaten tennis balls.

After just a few minutes in surgery, the surgeon came back and just shook his head. Buster was in very late stages of intestinal damage from Pythiosis. The right thing to do would be to just not wake him up and let him go. He’s in a lot of pain and would just continue to get worse.

I was at home with the boys while Scott explained to me the best he could over the phone what the surgeon recommended. I was afraid to bring the boys to see Buster, as he was all hooked up for surgery….I didn’t want them to see Buster after death. So we said goodbye to Buster in a prayer and in our own little way.

Do you know about Pythiosis? It’s a water & mold infection.

From Pet MD: 

“Belonging to the phylum Oomycota, Pythium insidiosum is a parasitic spore that is capable of spontaneous movement (or a motile zoospore) that enters the body through the nose/sinuses, esophagus, or through the skin. Infection then usually settles in the dog’s lungs, brain, sinuses, gastrointestinal tract, or skin.

Affected dogs will exhibit subcutaneous or cutaneous masses, which develop as lesions on the legs, tail, head, neck, perineum, and/or the inside of the thigh.

Pythiosis is typically thought of as occurring in swampy areas in the southeastern U.S., and has thus been nicknamed “swamp cancer.” Signs of pythiosis usually appear in the fall or early winter months, and while this organism does typically thrive in tropical and subtropical waters, such as ponds, wetlands, and swamps, it has been found to occur as far west as the central valley of California.”

Basically, warm, standing water encourages parasite growth. Where we live in Gulf Coast Florida, we are surrounded by tropical swampland. With all of the constant rain this summer, our property is the ripe environment for Pythiosis. The dogs play and drink from our ponds, small flooded grassy areas in the front yard.

“This infection is caused by direct contact with water that accommodates Pythium insidiosum, a water borne fungal parasite. It is usually swallowed or inhaled by the dog, and from there makes its way to the animal’s intestinal tract.” — Pet MD

Because it is a rare, very aggressive disease and not many vets have ever seen Pythiosis, or even heard of it, it’s often fatal by the time the dog is diagnosed. In fact, this was the first time that our vet and surgeon have ever experienced seeing Pythiosis first hand. The disease does not respond to anti-fungal medication. There have only been a handful of cases where the pet has survived.

Here’s what you can do:

Do not let your dog drink from or play in still, stagnant, warm, fresh water ponds, wetlands, swamps or large puddles, especially in the Gulf States. Do not let them eat grass from these types of waters. In fact, children should not play in those types of waters either.

Pythiosis Resources:


AKC: Pythiosis “Swamp Cancer” 

Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory

Veterinary Partner

National Institute of Health: Pythiosis in Dogs

National Institute of Health: Gastrointestinal pythiosis in 10 dogs from California

Low Country Dog: Ask the Vet

Rottweiler Health: New diagnostic test for Pythiosis

Michigan State University: Canine Pythiosis