Abdominal Cavity Inflammation (Peritonitis) Average Cost

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What is Abdominal Cavity Inflammation (Peritonitis)?

The dog’s abdominal cavity is lined by the peritoneum. This membrane lubricates the contents of the abdomen by excreting a small amount of fluid. This membrane also helps with inflammation by forming scars. When a dog has peritonitis, this membrane is highly inflamed and too much fluid builds up within the abdominal cavity. 

Peritonitis is caused when a dog’s abdominal cavity becomes infected or inflamed. An increase of fluid in the peritoneum occurs and the dog exhibits symptoms of severe illness.

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Symptoms of Abdominal Cavity Inflammation (Peritonitis) in Dogs

The symptoms of dog abdominal cavity inflammation are easy to recognize. If your dog has any of the following symptoms, either one or more than one, it is important to contact your veterinarian. Symptoms include:

  • Repeated vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Distended abdomen
  • Pain in the abdomen


There are two types of peritonitis, and both of them result in the same symptoms. Treatment may vary depending on the type.  They include:

Spontaneous Peritonitis 

Spontaneous peritonitis is a fluid collection in the peritoneal cavity where fungi or bacteria to cause an infection. Otherwise known as ascites, the fluid in the abdomen comes from blood vessels, organs, masses in the abdomen, or the lymphatic system. Dogs that have heart, liver, or kidney disease can suffer from spontaneous peritonitis.

Secondary Peritonitis 

When another disorder causes the infection, secondary peritonitis occurs. Bacteria can spread because of an injury or inflammation in the abdomen.

Causes of Abdominal Cavity Inflammation (Peritonitis) in Dogs

Dog abdominal cavity inflammation can be serious, and if not seen by a veterinarian it can be life-threatening. Fluid builds up within the abdominal cavity, and there are specific causes for this. Causes include:

  • Wound or injury of the abdomen
  • Ruptured appendix
  • Perforated colon
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Diverticulitis
  • Inflamed pancreas
  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease

Diagnosis of Abdominal Cavity Inflammation (Peritonitis) in Dogs

If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, the veterinarian will perform specific tests to check for abdominal cavity inflammation and the stage of severity. These tests will include an abdominal fluid sample along with a culture to identify the bacteria type, a blood count, a biochemical profile, an ultrasound or x-ray of the abdomen area, or any other test the veterinarian feels your dog should have.

The imaging techniques, such as a radiograph and an ultrasound, will allow the veterinarian to take a closer look at any fluid, gas, or an abscess. Once fluid in the abdomen is determined, the veterinarian may also take a sample to be analyzed. Once the diagnosis is complete, the veterinarian will determine the type of treatment the dog needs to help heal from this serious inflammation.

Treatment of Abdominal Cavity Inflammation (Peritonitis) in Dogs

The veterinarian will make the decision to treat the peritonitis either surgically or non-surgically.  This depends on what has specifically caused this inflammation to occur. If the peritonitis is serious, and surgery must be performed, the veterinarian may choose to perform an exploratory surgery to seek out more of the underlying cause and to plan for the surgery itself. 

Intravenous fluids

Intravenous fluids are given to restore the proper fluids in the dog’s system.  Fluid and electrolytes will be given to the dog and the dog will have to be kept in the hospital for this procedure. 

Dietary Changes

A low-sodium diet will be highly recommended by the veterinarian to help with fluid retention and if the dog is diagnosed with a heart disease. Nutrition can be given via feeding tube or by an injection. 


Surgery may have to be performed if the dog has a bacterial infection that has caused the peritonitis. The abdomen is flushed and “washed” with saline. Unfortunately, many dogs do not recover from this as it is a life-threatening condition.


If the peritonitis is somewhat manageable, your dog will be given the appropriate medications, such as antibiotics and medications to control any pain your pet is having. It is important to have your canine family member finish all medications given.

Recovery of Abdominal Cavity Inflammation (Peritonitis) in Dogs

Once your dog is home and after the main treatment is over, he will have to be monitored closely. It is important to watch for any recurring symptoms and other different behaviors that may allude to illness. Your pet will more than likely be on antibiotics for quite some time. 

Depending on the severity of the peritonitis, your dog can recover, but it is a very serious condition, and if not caught early and treated, it can be life-threatening. Be sure to listen to your veterinarian’s instructions on any other aftercare procedures and keep all of the follow-up appointments to stay proactive in this serious illness.

Abdominal Cavity Inflammation (Peritonitis) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

13 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Loss of Appetite

Medication Used


Hello. My 13 year old Chihuahua has been having very bad infection and wounds in his paws for one year. The veterinary thinks he has Lupus. He tried Atopica and Apoquel but did not work well enough. He then got corticosteroids injection and Convenja antabiotica for several times wich finally now in desember worked! But then he got diabetes (drinks and pees a lot) and we have been injecting him with insulin twice a day since 22nd of dec. Last week (monday)he lost his apetite, started vomiting and whining sometimes when trying to sleep. The veterinary gave him last Tuesday iv fluids, convenja and canicaral for pain. His blood tests showed high white blood count, ALT normal, ALP very high (has been high since march 2017), low albumin, and inflammation. Kidney blood tests normal. He has had a heart murmur grade 3 since march that has not gotten worse. The last days he is doing a little better. Has a little apetite but eats little. His bowel movements are quite frequent 3-4 times per 24 hours, but no diarhea, light brown colored. He drinks a lot and pees a lot. He walks around but is weak and sometimes shivers. Sometimes when he tries to lay down and relax/sleep he whines and tries to find a new position. This can be going on for a long time and he becomes very irritated and restless. His stomach has been for a few months very distended wich we thought was the liver but are now thinking could be stomach related, pancreatitis maybe? Or peritonitis? He does not whine when he walks or we touch his stomach. Would be very grateful for a quick answer as it is heart breaking seeing him trying to sleep but cant. Best regards, Silja from Iceland

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1402 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, without seeing Skuggi, I am unable to determine why he might be having these problems. It seems that you have a good relationship with your veterinarian, though, and that would be a great question to ask them, to try and find out why he is shivering and can't seem to get comfortable. If he is painful, your veterinarian can try to determine where he is painful and how he can be treated. I hope that he is okay.

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Yorkshire Terrier
7 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Warm to touch stomach

Oliver gets lethargic at night and has a change in his normal mental status(acting strange). His stomach is very warm to the touch. Also, during the day, when it is warmer out (85 degrees) he does not want to be outside- which is unlike his normal behavior. He is eating, drinking and having normal bowel movements. At night he seems to have more trouble getting comfortable to sleep. This behavior has gone on 2 nights in a row. Is there anything I can do, or should I take him to the vet? Thank you for any assistance.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2985 Recommendations

You know Oliver more than anyone and you would be aware of these changes to his normal behaviour or routine; it is good that Oliver is eating, drinking and has normal bowel movements but there may or may not be something clinical wrong. Two nights is a short period of time, it may be due to something simple that may resolve without incident (pulled muscle for example) or it may be the start of something more serious. I feel at this point your Veterinarian may just tell you to keep an eye on him (unless they find something during a physical examination); unless he takes a turn for the worse, I would check him over the weekend and if there is no improvement by Monday, visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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German Shepherd
4.5 years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

My shepherd had emergency surgery 2 weeks ago for intestinal blockage. Swallowed a sock. She survived the procedure & vet said she healed great. However she has lost her appetite except for dog biscuits & still throws up - mainly bile. She was always a good eater before. I have tried different dog foods but other than biscuits she hardly touches them. She just doesn't seem herself. Vet had me give her Pepsid AC, cephalexin & tramadol. She has had bowel movements but not often which I figured was from not eating much. She has not gotten a hold of or eaten any foreign objects- keeping close watch on her. Any thoughts? I'm at a loss & cant figure it out. When I mentioned it to the vet (when they took out her sutures...) they said it was separate issue- meaning not related to her surgery.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2985 Recommendations
For some time after surgery it is normal for a dog to eat less and to be in some discomfort; if Dani is having trouble eating it may be best to try to feed her small amounts of boiled chicken and rice three or four times per day to see if she start to eat and gain her appetite, the chicken and rice is bland, non-irritating and dogs seem to like it for some reason. Loss of appetite is a common side effect of tramadol so you may want to keep that in mind as well. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.akc.org/content/health/articles/tramadol-for-dogs/

My dog is going through the same. The intestinal surgery was done last week. He still doesn't eat, drinks very less water and throws up black-brown colored stinking vomit.

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English Bulldog
3 Weeks
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Abdominal Distension

My friends English Bulldog breeder most recent litter of 8 puppies are having problems. The puppies have just begun to reach age of 3 weeks old and 4 of the puppies have died. All of the living pups have diarrhea and distended abdomens. How should she go about saving the remainder of her puppies?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2985 Recommendations
Normally diarrhoea and distended abdomen are indicative of parasite (worm) infection, if the puppies haven’t been wormed yet, they should be; also a sample of faeces should be checked to look for any protozoan parasites as well. Other infections (bacterial for example) may be affecting the puppies, but without an examination I cannot give a diagnosis or prescribe any medication for them; a visit to a Veterinarian is required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Bichon Frise
1 Year
Critical condition
1 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms


My bichon has been hospitalized for a few days now. Her illness began with vomitting, diarhea, lethargy. After a few days her symptoms are lethargy, and fever. The newest symptom is a bruised area on her abdomen about 3 inches by 1 inch oblong. Doctors don't know what's going on and think the bruised area may be 'skin death' and will need to be removed. If you have any ideas please let me know.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2985 Recommendations

The symptoms which you describe (vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and fever) are a common collection of symptoms which are indicative of many different conditions. A physical examination along with blood or urinary tests may be used to narrow in on a definitive diagnosis. Regarding the ‘skin death’ or bruising; without seeing the lesion, I wouldn’t be able to comment. Skin lesions may occur secondary to internal disease; again, blood tests would give an indication of Stella’s internal health particularly liver, kidney function as well as complete blood count. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Our 13year old welsh Springer spaniel was rushed to the vets on Thursday morning he couldn't stand,retching trying to be sick,he wouldn't eat or drink,the vet get have him painkillers and sent him home,and take him back 8hours later.
The boy was in a bad way!terrified Gwyneth took him straight back to the vet and then to the pet hospital he was operated on till 23.30 that evening.they found a key chain in his stomach and intestine. He is still in a bad way in hosital, still on a drip and refusing to eat.heart breaking.Gwyneth had to apply for an £8000.00 loan to cover the vet bills.
If your reading this please Insure your pets. As it's hard enough dealing with this tragedy without worrying about the cost.
I'm praying constantly for this beautiful little boy and I'm sure the vet staff are taking great care of him.

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