Many times cancer can be misdiagnosed as infection in dogs.
How does this happen? Cancer diagnosis is not as strait forward as it may seem.
The reason for this is that we do not always have a simple test for internal cancers. The standard of care in testing for cancer is a biopsy. To get a biopsy, we have to be able to reach the affected area obtain a specimen.
But what about blood or urine tests? Unfortunately, there is no easy blood or urine test that gives us a clear cut answer in diagnosing cancer definitively, although there are some companies making headway.
Here’s why cancer can look like an infection: commonly the effects of cancer on urine or blood tests, or possibly even X-ray findings are essentially the same as an infection. This is not to say the effects on a loved dog’s body are the same as an infection. But, the test result or X-ray findings can look very similar.
To make matters worse, many times the cancer can house a secondary infection. In these cases, there is, in actuality, an infection in the body, but a cancer is the real, deeper culprit. This is a common occurrence with cancers of the nasal sinus, bladder, skin, and airways in the lungs.
When tested, infection could be found when there is an underlying cancer. The cancer disrupts the surface of the tumor such that bacteria can grow, and infection results.
Finally, it is important to note that systemic cancers cause immune suppression. This lowered immune status can make the body more susceptible to infection overall, confusing test results.
In these cases, immune stabilizing supplements can help, in addition to proper use of antibiotics, surgery as appropriate, apoptogens, pain control, and the rest of the cancer fighting tools in the Guide.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.