Bad news for older dog and I was potentially taken by vet practice

Curious about what people think. I took my older dog to the vet yesterday morning as she was breathing more rabidly at times and getting picky about eating. Then I noticed her gums were pale. Very scary.

Unfortunately got bad news, her lungs have multiple tumors. She’s obviously dealing with something in her blood work (she had clean blood work in November.) Obviously I was pretty upset to hear this news.

The vet said it was probably cancer but there is a chance that it’s fungal. He said on our part of the country fungal is very rare because we are very dry here. He asked if she’d ever been out of the country and I told him she was born in Indiana but that was 12 years ago. He stated that even though it was unlikely He would like to be safe since she was born in Indiana and check for fungal stuff. He said that it is probably cancer but if we treated it like cancer and it was fungal she would probably die quickly because they are opposite treatments.

I admittedly thought this seemed a little bit silly but he was adamant that he really would feel better if we did the fungal panel. Stupidly I just assumed it would be a similar price point as the blood panel. So I okayed it.

Well that fungal panel cost me $400. It was the biggest chunk of an $800 bill. It is on me to not ask the price. That was stupid. I was just so upset with the news and I was thinking it was more of a $150 price point and that what the heck just to be safe because he was so adamant.

I looked online and places like Cornell provide different fungal panels for from anywhere from $15 to $180.

I know there is the process and handling fees from the vet. Still it makes me wonder what kind of unlikely panel he just had to test for. In a part of the country that fungal anything would be unlikely??

My husband wants to call and cancel the panel. I don’t know. I feel like I was the sucker. If it was very likely that it could be fungal, $400 would seem more worth it. But seems like a waste of money.

Obviously I’m upset all around… just horrible news. I’d love an outside perspective.

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$270 and change my cost (not including transport, interpretation, etc.) from my reference lab.
$400 isn’t out of line, but yes, you probably should have asked–but the DVM ought to have mentioned the cost as well, IMO.


You could ring and ask what specific panel / test the vet has requested, then ask on Pet Vet Corner group on Facebook what the price would be for that exact test. If that exact test significantly less than $400, you could consider it a sign to change vets.

My previous vet did that to me. Horse had $700AUD worth of lameness examinations. Vet said left hind, I said I was worried about right fore and potential navicular. Vet said no no, not possible. Refused to x-ray front foot, did multiple x-rays of left hind. Gave her a month’s course of injections for a bone spur on her fetlock (non-joint related). Had the vet out a month later for 4 x dentals / Hendra / Tet / Strangles and a pregnancy ultrasound. Bill was going to be over $1500 easy. Planned so that the horse could be re-checked after her month’s course of Pentosan. “Off” horse came up for her turn, vet gave her a 30 second flex and trotted her off, said “more injections” and gave her another Pentosan. Charged me $100 for the flex test, $100 for the Pentosan.

Then she suited up, sedated the pregnant mare, did a full ultrasound, the works. $50… Riddle me that one!

It was the nickel-dime that broke the camel’s back.

Oh. And the horse had early ringbone in the right front foot. The one they wouldn’t x-ray because the hoof testers said no. Meanwhile my trainer could bring the horse to her knees with testers.

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I’m so sorry about your dog!!

Is this even an option or have they sent it out already? It does seem kind of unnecessary based on what you say, but I’m not a vet so take that with a huge grain of salt… Are you considering taking your dog to a specialist? If so and you can cancel the panel, I might do that see what the specialist says about whether it is actually necessary.

I wonder if the vet is concerned about liability if he treats for cancer and it does turn out to be fungal?

Sooooort of similar: my older horse has been seeing an opthalmologist for some issues. At the first appointment she prescribed several ointments, not including anti-fungal because she felt that was unlikely for various reasons that she explained to me. When he hadn’t shown improvement at the recheck a month later, she added the anti-fungal ointment ($96) even though she still felt it was unlikely, to cover all bases. That was when she first did a cytology test ($55) too, because she hasn’t found them to be helpful in cases like his so she didn’t want to spend my money on it at the first appointment (it didn’t end up being helpful, so that was a good call). I appreciated this rational, graduated approach, although I do understand why some vets feel they need to be more aggressive up-front, maybe for liability reasons or maybe just based on different situations and personal experiences.


One other thing that bothers me- the office lady told me they gave me a hefty discount on the panel- that it normal is nearly double that…like $700. There was no discount shown on the bill though. Usually with horse vets, if they decided to give something to me as a discount it would show up listed as the full price and then show the discount.

But yes, I was stupid not to ask. We were in the parking lot, my young daughter was crying in the car. I felt pressured and thought it seemed dumb to test for something so unlikely but I caved.

I just keep thinking how that money would be better spent on treatment. Ugh.

We will be seeing a specialist as well. Not sure we can cancel the panel now over the weekend. But I am definitely a little upset about that.

I was reading online that her breed is more likely than others to get lung cancer. So seems more likely than a fungus from somewhere she was 12 years ago. But I’m not about so I don’t know.

Where are you located (general area)?

Just curious as there is a fungus, Coccidiodes immitis, or valley fever, which is found in desert climates and is prevalent in parts of AZ, CA, NV, NM, TX, UT. I would assume if you are in one of these areas, that the would/should have mentioned valley fever.

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Colorado. Now that would make more sense. But he specifically was worried about a fungus from the midwes region.

Does valley fever cause tumors though? Her lungs have lots of tumors :frowning:

I don’t know all the different symptoms of valley fever but if you Google it, tons of information.

It is fairly prevalent in the Phoenix area :frowning:

Good luck with your pup. I’d ask the vet about valley fever.

I do know someone who had a similar occurrence recently–dog dx’ed w/ lung tumors, got 2nd opinion, turned out to be fungal.


I am sorry your dog is sick.

My first thought on the pricing goes along with what Ghazzu posted. There is a price to process the sample that the vet pays the lab, which is likely the prices you found looking things up randomly. (And maybe they is more than one test being done.) Then there are the added expenses of shipping properly, getting the sample, handling the sample, packaging the sample, etc.

I know we hate paying money for things that turn out negative, but to me this pricing does not seem out of line for this type of testing. If you typically trust this vet, continue to trust this vet.


I switched vets 2 yrs ago for being nickel and dimed. For years it was fine and then I think things got tight and suddenly she was going to the most expensive things first. Very long story short but this is one of a few incidents: she said was that my dog had some awful heart problem and needed extra testing there, and then she should see a specialist that happened to be coming Monday. The vet had me in tears. But part of those tears were from frustration because my gut knew something wasn’t right. They did and ECG and it was like a what not to do training video (my vet forgot I have a strong animal health background). And only because I asked I realized I was about to lose $thousands in tests for a dog that otherwise seemed fine. I said I’d think about it. Drove away and realized, duh, she’s over dosed her on thyroid pills. Got THREE different opinions–my dogs heart was fine, just fast because…to high thryroid dose!!! Her current vet is much more realistic about everything, crazy thorough in talking things out with me and not jumping to expensive tests first for a 12 yr old dog. Sorry this was long, I’m obviously still upset how it all went down as I was very loyal to my other vet for so many years.


Fungal infections can be indistinguishable from lung tumors on x-rays


I don’t think you were ‘taken’, I do think that they should have presented you with a clear treatment plan.

If you are doing an oncology consult you can certainly find out if the sample can be held until after you get their opinion. Chances are that it will be even more expensive a test to run at a specialty clinic.

Regardless this diagnosis sucks and I’m sorry. I have lost two dogs to thoracic masses that were untreatable, one because of the aggressive nature of the type of cancer and the other because the location/nature of the mass. I work in the industry AND have excellent insurance for them and left with only palliative care options. I prescrive lots of snuggles and treats for both dog and humans!


You weren’t stupid not to ask, give yourself a break. We all have been at the vets with a seriously ill animal and readily agree to various options because we are in shock, time is of the essence, and we want to do right by our pet. You did just fine, I would have done the same thing. Sorry about your dog, try not to let this add to your grief.


Blastomycosis maybe, it’s fungal? I lost my cocker to blasto in Kentucky. The vet was unsure if it was cancer or fungal, turned out to be fungal. It had progressed too far to save her.

I will ask about that, thanks for bringing it on my radar.

This is a newer to me vet which is probably part of my feelings. I have such a great, long term relationship with my equine vet. And honestly most equine vets I’ve dealt with have been up front about the cost of things if it was sort of high. I think I expect that relationship with everyone but it’s different with the small animal vets.

I do plan on getting a second opinion with a cancer specialists. It sounds like none of those things have great outcomes. :frowning: But I want to do what we can/make her comfortable.

Thanks for weighing in guys.

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That’s what I think he was worried about. But said it’s not really in this part of the country.

Sounds like there are some different fungal possiblities though.

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Just as an FYI… Blasto is showing up in many places, where it never use to be an issue.
I think the changing weather patterns have allowed it to flourish in areas is couldn’t before.

It is treatable/manageable if caught EARLY, otherwise it’s usually a make comfortable as you can type of outcome.

Best of luck for your old gal :two_hearts: