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What is Fluid in Abdomen?

Ascites is defined as the buildup of free fluids in the abdomen. It is characterized by a distended belly, which may be accompanied by nonspecific clinical signs such as lethargy. Ascites is itself a symptom of other conditions, most commonly liver disease or right side heart failure, and cannot be treated successfully without also addressing the underlying cause. The prognosis depends on the source of the ascites.

Free fluid can build up in the abdomen when blood flow is impeded, whether due to liver disease, heart failure, or other conditions. This buildup is referred to as ascites (or abdominal effusion) and is characterized by a distended abdomen. Treatment and prognosis will vary depending on the underlying cause, since removing the accumulated fluid will not fully resolve the condition and may, in fact, encourage ascites formation.

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Fluid in Abdomen Average Cost

From 208 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$3,000

Symptoms of Fluid in Abdomen in Dogs

When fluid builds up in the abdomen, your dog's stomach will be visibly distended. Other clinical signs rising from the underlying cause for ascites include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Lack of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
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Causes of Fluid in Abdomen in Dogs

Ascites is a symptom of many other conditions. One of the most common is liver disease, which leads to an increase in pressure in the vessels that lead to the liver. When blood flow is impeded, free fluid can build up in the abdomen. Fluid can also accumulate when the liver produces fewer albumins, a serum protein that helps keep water in the blood at the capillary level.

Another common cause of ascites is heart disease, specifically right side heart failure. With congestive heart failure, the heart is unable to pump blood out effectively, leading to a fluid build-up in other areas of the body. Other causes for ascites include hepatitis, kidney failure, and hypoproteinemia.

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Diagnosis of Fluid in Abdomen in Dogs

The veterinarian may make a circumstantial diagnosis of ascites based on your dog's distended abdomen and other physical findings. Laboratory testing, including blood work and a urinalysis, may be conducted both to discover the cause of the ascites and to determine your dog's overall condition. Radiographs and abdominal ultrasounds can confirm the presence of fluid in the abdomen, and a sample of the fluid can be withdrawn with a needle for cytologic examination.

Further diagnostic tests may be required to reveal the extent of the underlying condition. If the veterinarian suspects that the ascites is a symptom of liver disease, a chemistry panel, and complete blood count may be performed. Other tests, such as serum bile acids and ammonia tests, are also very useful for measuring the liver function. In cases of heart failure, thoracic radiographs, and a Knott's test may be useful for diagnosis.

A full diagnosis of the underlying condition is vital to proper treatment.

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Treatment of Fluid in Abdomen in Dogs

Treatment for ascites varies according to the underlying condition. The fluid can be removed via abdominocentesis, but this is only a temporary solution, as fluid can build up again if the cause of the ascites is not addressed. Unless your dog is having difficulty breathing because of the amount of fluid in the abdomen, the veterinarian most likely will not recommend this procedure. Your dog will lose albumins along with the fluid, and decreasing pressure in the abdomen may lead to an increase in the fluid buildup.

Instead, a diuretic to increase the loss of water through urine, combined with a low sodium diet, is more often used to manage ascites. During this time, the condition causing ascites will also need to be treated, with treatment ranging from special diets for dogs with liver disease to drug therapy to improve cardiac function.

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Recovery of Fluid in Abdomen in Dogs

During the recovery process, provide your dog with a quiet and secure place to rest. Keep your dog calm and restrict activity in order to minimize stress. If your dog received treatment for the condition that is causing ascites, monitor him or her daily, and check that the ascites is resolving. Your veterinarian will provide you with instructions for care and let you know what to expect over the next few days. Follow-up exams may be recommended to ensure that your dog is healing well.

The prognosis for recovery is highly variable and depends on whether or not the underlying condition can be successfully treated.

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Cost of Fluid in Abdomen in Dogs

There are a few different treatments that the veterinarian may suggest. One of which may be abdominocentesis. This treatment is only a temporary fix and is usually only recommended if your dog is having trouble breathing. It can cost between $420 and $720. The other option that the veterinarian may suggest is the use of a diuretic. A diuretic can help increase the amount of water lost through urination. Combining a diuretic (i.e. Furosemide) with a low sodium diet can help reduce the fluid buildup in the abdomen. Furosemide 40mg/80mg can cost $13/$18 per 100ct. There is prescription dry dog kibble that promotes cardiac health that would be low in sodium. An 18 pound bag of this special kibble can cost $55-$78. The veterinarian may be concerned about your dog’s cardiac function and may prescribe cardiac improving drugs such as Spironolactone. Spironolactone 25mg can cost between $16 and $26 per 100ct. bottle. In total, the cost of all of these treatments can range from $504 to $549. Fluid buildup in the abdomen is nothing to take lightly and should always be treated by the veterinarian.

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Fluid in Abdomen Average Cost

From 208 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$3,000

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Fluid in Abdomen Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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doberman

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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6 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Abdomen

Her belly is full of liquid and it keeps getting better. The medicine she has works for a moment and then her belly keeps getting bigger. She has diarrhea and she pees a lot.

Jan. 10, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Maureen M. DVM

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6 Recommendations

Hi, Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen can be caused by various issues. This can range from liver, kidney, and heart disease. The drugs that were prescribed are called diuretics which help to drain the excess fluid. This excess fluid is passed out of the body as urine therefore the increased frequency in urination. I would advise you to take your pet to the vet for blood tests especially biochemistry to be able to diagnose the underlying issue. Draining the fluid only treats the symptoms. Good luck

Jan. 10, 2021

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rat

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bloating And Hard Stomach

My dog is female about 6 or 7 years old. I'm the past week her belly has been getting bigger and it's very hard to the touch. She's having trouble pooping and now she is having trouble walking

Jan. 3, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, so sorry to hear that your dog is having problems. This could be fluid in the abdomen from heart disease, Cushing's disease, a mass in the abdomen, or she may just be getting fatter as she is getting older. It would be best for your vet to see your dog. They can examine her and run tests to figure out what is going on.

Jan. 3, 2021

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Aidi

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Nine Months

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5 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Painful Urination

How to treat a dog with plenty of fluid on her tummy

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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5 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Your dog could have heart or liver disease, or a problem with her protein levels. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them and see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 12, 2020

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Pitbull and shar-pei Mix

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10 Years

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bloated Stomach

Hi, my baby has anemia, liver and kidney desease. My vet only gave him Furosemide because he has bloated abdomen but his tummy won't go down with the medication and he said theirs nothing else we can do. He is still happy, wagging his tail, he eats pretty good but he is always tired and loosing weight. What else can I do? Thanks

July 16, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, it is really difficult for me to comment on what else might be able to be done for your dog without knowing more. If you are not sure that there are no other options, it might be best to have a second opinion. Another veterinarian being able to look at your dog, look at the blood work, and talk to you about it may have a different perspective. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

July 16, 2020

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Australian Shepherd

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

My girl was diagnosed with heart worms last year during her physical even though she was on a preventative. We opted to do slow kill because of her age. We switched her heartworm prevention. In the past year I’ve also been trying to get her to loose some weight as she is a little over weight. She gets 1/2 cup in the morning and 1/2 cup at night of a weight loss food. No treats. She hasn’t lost any weight in the past year and I’ve noticed her breathing a little heavier, I feel as though her stomach/Abdomen is a little extended too but does not get bigger than it is. Is it the heart worms?

July 16, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There is no way for me to tell you if the heartworms are causing problems without being able to see her I would need to listen to her heart and lungs and assess her cardiovascular function to be able to tell you that. If she has not lost weight on her weight loss diet, it might be a good idea to check her thyroid. Thyroid disease in older dogs can cause weight gain, panting, and lethargy. Her problem may not be related to her heartworms at all. It might be worth a follow up with your veterinarian to see what more might be going on. I hope that she is okay.

July 16, 2020

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Silly

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Irish Red and White Setter

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10 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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Critical severity

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Tumor
Liver

My dog recently got diagnosed with multiple tumors on her liver. She's been releasing a yellow fluid from her butt or pee hole every night. What is the liquid and why is this happening. What can I do to help her?

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Rex

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Golden retriever/ beagle mix

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8 Weeks

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Serious severity

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We adopted a puppy on Wednesday that presented with a swollen belly due to worms.... he was dewormed multiple times and his belly just kept getting bigger... we decided to take him into the vet and they found he had fluid in his abdomen. They did an ultrasound to confirm fluid, sent labs to IDECC which isn’t completed yet, and did blood work which came back completely normal. She listed to his heart as well and found no murmur. Fluid is also very clear. After $800 in vet bills we have absolutely no answers... wondering if this has happened to anyone... if we should wait to see best case scenario from specialty vet or put him down... pup was a birthday present for my 5 year old.. we’re all heart broken and at a loss.... Anyone have any suggestions on what it possibly COULD be?

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Chester

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cockapoo

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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Not Eating
Bloated
Disoriented

My Chester is an 8 year old Cockapoo. He was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma (liver) inoperative on Nov. 13.. He had been doing well. We tried chemo (Pallidia ) for 5 weeks.. Had a scare on NYeve and thought we would lose him.. Rushed him to hsp. They rehydrated him and he was like a new fur baby. Since Jan. 3 he has been great - eating, playing drinking water etc.. He is on NO meds, we stopped the Pallidia. Yesterday we took Chester and his sister to park. He ran and played, was happy... My husband picked him to put back in car and within seconds he vomited a bit... That was 24 hours ago and he is lethargic, VERY bloated, won’t eat, seems dazed and disoriented, has a bit of diarrhea. Wants to drink massive amounts of water. Even though he has been eating great (up to 24 hours ago) we have notced he is very boney.. It happened SO sudden . Why? Too much exercise? Should I get his belly drained? He is terminal and I just don’t want to put him through a procedure for a very temporary (if it even is) recovery... He seems more bloated then he was...

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Forest

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Beagle

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11 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Hi ! My dog, Forest, is 12 years old and his kind a of a Beagle mix Lab. Last spring of 2018, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur. After developing a serious cough, a cardiologist preformed a heart ultrasound and x-rays to confirm his condition and noted the heart was larger than normal and the lungs contained a little bit of fluid. He was treated with a prescription of 6 mg of Melatonine, 7.5 mg Pimobendan twice a day, 25 mg Furosemide twice a day and 20 mg Benazepril once a day. A week ago, his stomach became so bloated and hard that we decided to go to the Emergency Vet Hospital. An ultrasound and puncture of the abdomen confirmed his stomach was filled with white fluid. A fluid drainage was not mentioned as a treatment. To help him, the vet ordered to triple his Furosemide pills going from 50 mg a day to 120 mg a day (that is 2 pills of 20 mg 3 times a day). The swelling went down, but here we are 1 week later and now his stomach is just as bad as last time... We can see his discomfort (he has trouble resting, lying down and even walking) and he's breathing with difficulty and rapidly. He still eats well, and wags his tail when ready to go outside ! Will his stomach just keep expanding or will the stretching stop at one point ? If not, what will happen to his stomach or general condition ? Can this fluid build up eventually cause death ? This concerns me so much. I can't imagine his stomach getting any bigger...And, I can sense this is painful for him. Thank you for any advice you can give me. I've been reading a lot on his condition, and I know the acetis can be hard to control, but I can't seem to find any information regarding how long a dog can tolerate such stomach expansion and if not resolved, what will happen. Many thanks for your time and consideration.

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Alba

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Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Serious severity

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2 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Fluid In Abdomen

My chihuahua has been diagnosed with chf. It has been devastating as we just lost our other chihuahua on dec 13th to a seizure.. I'm wondering she has fluid buildup on her abdomen she is on a diuretic already she eats pees, and still eats quite a bit she has always been a table scrap eater. She is on iams. She is always thristy. I have noticed her abdomen is not going down it seems to be getting bigger. She had a blood buildup knot on her leg it busted and she went on antibiotics. The dr said the blood will start to build up in other spots .. I love her sooooo much .

Fluid in Abdomen Average Cost

From 208 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$3,000

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