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Phycomycosis is an uncommon disease of the gastrointestinal tract most commonly found in dogs. The disease is caused by a variety of molds and fungi. Pythiosis is the most common type and is caused by Pythium, a type of water mould. Phycomycosis can also be caused by two types of zygomycetes, Entomophthorales (such as Basidiobolus and Conidiobolus) and Mucorales (such as Mucor, Mortierella, Absidia, Rhizopus, and Rhizomucor).

Pythiosis occurs most commonly in dogs and horses, but is also found in cats, cattle, and humans. In the United States it is most commonly found in the Gulf states, especially Louisiana. Pythium occupies swamps in late summer and infects dogs who drink water containing it. The disease is typically found in young, large breed dogs. Other causes of phycomycosis are found throughout the U.S. and Europe.

The disease grows slowly in the stomach and small intestine, eventually forming large lumps of granulation tissue. It can also invade surrounding lymph nodes. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, weight loss, and a mass in the abdomen. Phycomycosis of the skin is very rare, and appears as ulcerated lumps.

Diagnosis is through biopsy. Treatment is very difficult and includes surgery when possible. Antifungal drugs show only limited effect on the disease. The prognosis is poor.


  • Ettinger, Stephen J.;Feldman, Edward C.(1995).Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine(4th ed.). W.B. Saunders Company. ISBN 0-7216-6795-3

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