Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Suki Doesn't Have A Tumor And She Doesn't Have Cushing's: Suki's Story

by Stacey Snyder

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 a treatment. Why are we hesitant to do the same for our fur babies, especially since they can't speak for themselves?

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.

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

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

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

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.  

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!

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

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 a 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 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 he 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!

As a smart dog, Suki has  a lot to say about things; that's why she has her own blog with Suki’s Corner! You can also connect with Suki on Twitter or Facebook.


  1. I'm so glad you perservered. We had a dog with Cushing's and that certainly didn't sound right to me either!

    1. Cushing's is actually a relatively common disease and, ironically, often goes undiagnosed as signs get shrugged off as signs of aging ...

      BUT that doesn't mean that every dog gets it and diagnosing something based on a single sign is plain crazy in my mind.

  2. Good for you, always go with your instincts.

  3. This is a great reminder to all of us to listen to that inner voice. I'm so happy Suki is doing so well.

    1. It is quite sad that one just can't trust what the vets say. But particularly with serious things, unless it quite obviously makes sense, getting a second opinion is becoming a must.

  4. It's very sad! I learned there are many symptoms of Cushing's other than a pot belly...none of which Suki had! Cushing's also isn't an automatic death sentence. It can be managed and treated. Lesson learned...always trust your gut.

    1. Yes, Cushing's comes with many symptoms. All is well what ends well, jut too bad they had to go through all that.

  5. Exactly! I now read just about every dog book and online article I can get my hands on. I want to be educated as much as I can about pet health.