What is Hemoabdomen?
Dog’s with hemoabdomen have a buildup of blood within the lining of the abdominal wall and the abdominal organs (stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver and the gallbladder). Hemoabdomen in dogs can be fatal.
Patients with nontraumatic hemoabdomen are usually elderly dogs. There is a higher incidence of nontraumatic hemoabdomen found in Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers.
It is important to remain calm if your dog is showing symptoms of hemoabdomen; he must be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. You should call the veterinarian’s office or emergency clinic and let them know the situation at hand. Smaller dogs should be placed in their carriers, this will help them to remain still. Injured, larger dogs can be transported by using the tray from a kennel, blanket or beach towel as a stretcher. It is easier to have another person to help get the dog into the car. If there is no one around, slowly drag the dog on the “stretcher” to your vehicle. Please be aware that even the sweetest, well behaved dog can bite you if he is stressed, confused and in pain.
Hemoabdomen is also called hemoperitoneum. Hemoabdomen refers to blood within the dog’s abdominal cavity.
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Symptoms of Hemoabdomen in Dogs
Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal distension - Abnormal expansion of the dog’s abdominal and waist area
- Subcutaneous bruising
- Distressed breathing
- Pale gums
- Low blood pressure
- Traumatic hemoabdomen – The most common reason for traumatic hemoabdomen is blunt trauma caused by a motor vehicle
- Nontraumatic hemoabdomen – The most common cause for non-traumatic hemoabdomen is the rupture of an abdominal mass
Causes of Hemoabdomen in Dogs
- Trauma - The dog was hit by a moving vehicle, physical abuse, shot or was attacked by another animal
- Abdominal tumors which have ruptured
- Clotting disorder, which can cause bleeding in the abdomen cavity
- Hemangiosarcomas or hematoma of the spleen
Diagnosis of Hemoabdomen in Dogs
If your dog was injured, let the veterinarian know all the details of the trauma. The veterinarian will want to go over the dog’s medical history as well and will discuss the symptoms you have observed. He will perform a physical examination which may include taking the patient’s vitals and palpating his abdomen.
The veterinarian may suggest abdominal x-rays and he might perform an abdominocentesis. An abdominocentesis is a medical procedure which uses a needle and syringe to remove fluid from the abdomen. The fluid is then examined and analyzed. The veterinarian may also recommend a complete blood count, a serum chemistry panel and a coagulation panel. If the x-rays showed any abnormalities the veterinarian may suggest an abdominal ultrasound and/or an MRI.
Treatment of Hemoabdomen in Dogs
Treatment of hemoabdomen will depend on the veterinarian’s diagnosis and the severity of the patient’s condition. Emergency exploratory surgery may be necessary.
If your pet has lost a lot of blood he may need a blood transfusion. Dogs with hemangiosarcomas of the spleen may need to have the spleen surgically removed. Abdominal tumors will also need to be removed by a veterinary surgeon. Following surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment may be recommended.
Patients with traumatic hemoabdomen may have a tight wrap (bandage) placed around the abdomen. This is done to slow down blood loss and to stabilize the patient. The abdominal wrap may need to stay on your dog for up to 12 hours. The wrap is then slowly removed and your dog is closely monitored. The belly wrap procedure may prevent the need for surgery.
Dogs with a clotting disorder may need to have restrictions in exercise and play (to avoid injuries). Medications and supplements may also be prescribed.
Recovery of Hemoabdomen in Dogs
Patients who undergo surgery may be prescribed antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and pain medication. Once your pet is home he should be supervised. An Elizabethan collar should be worn to help prevent the dog from licking or biting at the incision area. The incision must be kept clean and dry. He should not be allowed to jump or play with other pets. Walks should be limited to only potty breaks. Excessive activity may cause the sutures to rip apart. Usually, the dog can return to his normal activities after a few weeks.
You should call the veterinary surgeon if the sutures rip open or if the incision appears red and swollen. Follow up visits will be necessary to monitor the patient’s recovery. The veterinarian may want to retake x-rays and bloodwork. The recovery prognosis will depend on the underlying reason for the abdominal bleeding. Patients with cancer may have a more guarded prognosis.