Canine Diagnosis Confusion: Suki Doesn’t Have A Tumor And She Doesn’t Have Cushing’s—Suki’s Story

When we receive a serious diagnosis for ourselves or a family member, we look for a second opinion or visit a specialist.

We want to get as much information as we can before pursuing treatment. Why are we hesitant to do the same for our fur babies, especially since they can’t speak for themselves?

Thank you, Stacey Snyder, for sharing Suki’s story.

Canine Diagnosis Confusion: Suki Doesn't Have A Tumor And She Doesn't Have Cushing's—Suki's Story

Suki’s story

I learned a valuable lesson a couple of months after adopting Suki.

When I adopted her in 2010, I noticed her belly hung pretty low (affectionately called the “buddha belly” now). Since she was my first dog, I wasn’t sure if it was from her being overweight, pregnant when she was found, or something serious. I took her to a walk-in type vet recommend by a friend for her initial checkup.

Suki’s distended belly

I asked about her belly and was advised it was nothing to worry about.  

A week later I took Suki back to the vet due to a stomach bug and saw a different vet (the downside of a walk-in clinic).

Again, I asked about her belly, and again was told not to worry about it.  

A different veterinarian

We were back at the clinic a couple of weeks later for a cut paw and saw yet a different vet. She said not to worry about Suki’s belly too. When I returned to have the hard wrap removed from her paw, the vet (yes another new one) was alarmed at her belly and took an x-ray.

She said she saw a mass in Suki’s abdomen that was pushing her belly down.  

A dreadful diagnosis

She believed the mass was a tumor and wanted me to have an abdominal ultrasound at a clinic she recommended. She also said Suki likely had Cushing’s disease. Suki was given a very grim prognosis…as in death likely.

I left the vet crying and believing my sweet baby was going to die. 

I was also extremely upset that the previous 3 vets at the clinic told me not to worry about Suki’s belly.  She could have received treatment much sooner!  I Googled Cushing’s disease, which only made me cry more!

A second opinion

Luckily for Suki, I decided to obtain a second opinion.  

Another friend recommended her vet clinic which includes a hospital facility where they could perform the ultrasound. Her pets are her babies, so I felt confident with her recommendation. I made an appointment and took the previous x-ray with me.

Not only did the new vet (my savior) not see any mass or tumor, but she also showed the x-ray to every vet working that day for additional opinions.

No one could see this mass/tumor the previous vet saw. I was also told there was a blood test for Cushing’s disease. What? A blood test was never mentioned before. How does one diagnose such a serious disease without performing a test?

We ran the blood test which came back negative!  

That’s right…no Cushing’s!

The simple explanation

After a thorough exam, the new vet determined the pot belly was partially due to the excessive weight and partially due to weakened stomach muscles from pregnancy. The blood test also revealed elevated kidney levels, so  Suki was put on a medication to stabilize her kidneys.

Not only did Suki live…she doesn’t have a tumor, she doesn’t have Cushing’s and her kidneys are now stable.

After a diet and exercise program, Suki has lost 11 pounds, and her belly doesn’t hang nearly as low. She still does have a little “buddha belly” which adds to her cuteness.

Her current vet was a godsend!

Not only do I have an amazing vet now (the same one each time), but I also learned to trust my gut!  I could have saved myself hundreds of dollars and a lot of stress!  It’s my job to protect Suki…even if that means going against someone who supposedly knows more than me.


Suki is a 7-year young lab/beagle mix who was rescued a couple of years ago. She was found wandering the streets and had been abused. A wonderful rescue group (Rover Rescue) saved Suki from the scary shelter and brought her to IL to a foster home.  Luckily, Stacey saw Suki’s photo and fell in love with her – how could she not!  

Suki made sure to pour on the charm at their visit.  Suki loves her new forever home!  She’s spoiled, but hey she deserves it!

Related articles:
Abdominal Distention in Dogs: Why Is My Dog’s Stomach Swollen?

Further reading:
Missed Diagnoses: What to Do When You Think Your Vet Is Missing Something

Categories: ConditionsDog health advocacyMisdiagnosesReal-life StoriesSecond opinionsSwollen abdomenSymptoms

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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