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What is Painful Abdomen?

A painful abdomen is known to be caused by many possible disorders. Acute episodes of discomfort often indicate an underlying disorder that will have to be addressed in order to resolve the problem. Though abdominal pain experienced by your dog may be difficult for you to recognize, a change in your pet’s behavior should always be paid attention to. Take your dog to see the veterinarian by scheduling an appointment any time that you suspect your pet is acting differently. In the case of abdominal pain, an underlying pathology will need to be treated without delay because there may be a risk of illnesses such as obstruction, tumor or organ disease.

Painful abdomen in dogs is also described as acute abdomen. Behavior indicating pain can point to a serious disorder that must be investigated promptly. A diagnosis may lead to an intervention of a medical or surgical nature, in order to prevent a life-threatening situation.

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Painful Abdomen Average Cost

From 69 quotes ranging from $300 - $6,500

Average Cost

$1,800

Symptoms of Painful Abdomen in Dogs

Through the observance of your dog on a day to day basis, you may recognize changes that could signal abdominal pain. Because abdominal pain is occurring due to a secondary condition, there can be several symptoms accompanying the signs of pain as listed below:

  • Your dog may show a change, alteration, or extreme difference in posture; with a painful abdomen the hind end is often held upwards while the forelegs are close to the floor
  • Your dog may appear to have difficulty rising from a lying down position
  • Vocalization of pain
  • Abnormal breathing pattern
  • The abdomen may be swollen and/or tender to the touch
  • Restlessness, because a comfortable position to settle cannot be found
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • There may be diarrhea, sometimes with blood or mucous
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Drooling
  • Dehydration
Types

The abdominal pain experienced by dogs is broken down into two types, which are classified as infectious or noninfectious. Within these two categories there can be various types of abdominal pain:

  • Metabolic

    - such as kidney failure

  • Peritoneal Cavity

    - like a trauma

  • Urinary

    - example can be urethral obstruction

  • Digestive

    - like pancreatitis

  • Reproductive

    - such as a disease

  • Infectious Disease

    - from a toxicity for example

  • Musculoskeletal

    - such as trauma to abdominal muscle

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Causes of Painful Abdomen in Dogs

There can be a myriad of reasons that your dog may experience abdominal pain. The presence of this type of pain is serious, and can quickly lead to a dangerous condition if not addressed immediately. Some of the possible causes are listed below:

  • Liver disease
  • Canine parvovirus
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease)
  • Cystitis
  • Peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal lining)
  • Ischemia (inadequate blood supply to an organ or part of the body)
  • Malabsorption
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction
  • Constipation
  • Bloat
  • Cancer
  • Leptospirosis
  • Parasitic infection
  • Distension of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Prostatitis
  • Gastritis
  • Gastrointestinal ulcer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intervertebral disk disease
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Diagnosis of Painful Abdomen in Dogs

The veterinarian will begin the diagnostic analysis by asking you for a recent history of your dog’s behavior. Be prepared to describe any symptoms or signs of abnormality that have caused you recent concern. You may be asked for details on your pet’s diet; if you feed your pet table food, for example, this is an important piece of information for the veterinarian to be aware of. Other facts that will be helpful in the diagnosis of a painful abdomen are recent travel details, tips on possible exposure to toxins, and clues as to recent injury or trauma.

The veterinarian may choose to do a complete blood count, chemical profile, and urinalysis. The information from these tests may prove to be a valuable part of the diagnosis.

The physical examination will include checking the mucous membranes, listening to the lungs for sounds like abnormal crackling, and checking of the heart for pulse quality. Neurological tests will be done; rectal tone, gait, and mentation can be optimum indicators of specific illnesses as well. The veterinarian will also look for evidence of trauma on the body, in the form of blood or bruising. Palpitation and additional examination of the abdomen will be left to the last because interference in the examination may result if severe pain is experienced by your dog when touched or handled.

Imaging of plain and contrast radiographs or fluoroscopy might be necessary, as will cytology tests and abdominocentesis to analyze fluid in the stomach. Throughout the entire diagnostic period, the veterinarian will monitor your dog closely, in the case of the deterioration of your pet’s condition.

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Treatment of Painful Abdomen in Dogs

Treatment will depend on, and be correlated directly to, the underlying cause of the painful abdomen. If the required treatment is of a nonsurgical nature, therapy will begin with intravenous fluids to assure that electrolyte levels are balanced, and nutritional needs are met. Medication to stop or prevent nausea and vomiting will be administered. These steps can help to stabilize a pet that may be close to crisis.

Pain therapy is another crucial part of the treatment. Gastrointestinal protectants, antidiarrheal medications and antibiotics (if required) are important, too. Treatment of the specific underlying disease will vary, of course.

For example, Parvovirus will be treated with intravenous to replace the loss of sodium and potassium, and medication will be given to control persistent vomiting. A case of bloat, which can be very dangerous, will quickly be treated by the use of intravenous fluids and the passing of a tube through the mouth and into the stomach to release gas. It should be noted that surgery may be required if repositioning of the twisted stomach is needed.

If surgery is essential, for example in a severe case of bloat or a problem like a gastrointestinal obstruction, intravenous for stabilization, pain therapy (analgesics), fluid therapy, antibiotics and supportive care will be part of the treatment protocol.

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Recovery of Painful Abdomen in Dogs

Many cases of illness result in a need for dietary management. Painful abdomen in dogs is certainly no different. The importance of what you feed your pet, and the need for a balanced diet (more or less fiber might be needed for instance) are paramount to maintaining health. The veterinarian will describe the dietary needs of your pet (hypoallergenic, elimination or bland, perhaps) and tailor them to your dog’s needs, based upon the cause of the abdominal pain.

Dogs who have had surgery to resolve pain will have a longer recovery time due to stitches, food and exercise restrictions, and the need for follow-up visits to assess wound healing. Anti-inflammatories, pain medication, and antibiotics may be part of the medication regimen to be followed upon release from the clinic.

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Painful Abdomen Average Cost

From 69 quotes ranging from $300 - $6,500

Average Cost

$1,800

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Painful Abdomen Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Cocker Spaniel

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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11 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Dog was trembling this morning, has diarrhea and keeps going into downward dog pose. We feed him a ox tail bone last night. Please help

Dec. 8, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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11 Recommendations

Thank you for this photo and this is the downward dog posture as you say. This tells us he has abdominal discomfort and is most often associated with pancreatitis. Trembling can indicate pain, a fever or stress. It is possible this is linked to the bone as it may have caused an obstruction, gut laceration or gut impaction. Given what you have said, I would bring him to your local vet clinic immediately.

Dec. 8, 2020

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Beagle

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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5 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My dog typically wakes up with me around 6 am. Today he stayed alone in bed until 1 pm, leaving to eat. He’s been extremely slow walking & for the first time, has difficulty going up & down the stairs. He has abnormal posture with his head hung low & barely moves at all from his bed today. He yelps when we set him down after picking him up & his stomach feels & looks like it’s possibly bloated/ very full. Possibly unrelated but he also pooped indoors last night which is very irregular for him. He was perfectly fine yesterday but barely will get out of bed for food, walks or anything today.

Dec. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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5 Recommendations

Hello so sorry to hear about your dog. From the signs you are describing it sounds like he need medical attention right away. This could just be bloat but he sounds very lethargic. Without being able to examine him it is hard to tell exactly what is going on.

Dec. 7, 2020

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Pug

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Two 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

She got into a tub of chocolate covered peanut butter balls. This was about 330-4pm. Her stomach is still extremely bloated and is palpitating. She hasn't thrown up since 4 hours ago.

Dec. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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0 Recommendations

Chocolate toxicity depends on the exact amount of chocolate eaten and the dog's weight. If enough chocolate is consumed, dogs will vomit, have diarrhoea and may even develop seizures, heart irregularities and die. If there is any chance of chocolate toxicity, your dog needs to be seen by a vet.

Dec. 3, 2020

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Havanese

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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5 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating

My dogs stomach is growling and she is not eating. When I try and touch her stomach she growls at me.

Oct. 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Kate D. MA VetMB MRCVS

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5 Recommendations

Hello, Thank you for contacting us about your dog, I'm sorry to hear she is unwell. There are several possible causes of a painful abdomen, and it would be a good idea for her to be checked by a vet. If she seems in intense pain, is breathing fast or heavy, or is trying to vomit or burp, then she should be seen straight away in case it is an emergency. If she seems settled in herself and there are no other symptoms, then it should be ok to make an appointment when your vet clinic opens. I hope she feels better soon.

Oct. 14, 2020

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German Shepard chocolate lab mix

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Twitching On Stomach By Hind Legs And Weird Breathing

Why is my do gTwitching on stomach by hind legs and breathing weird

Oct. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without being able to see your dog or examine him, it is difficult for me to say why this might be happening. He may have some nerve or muscle pain or an injury of some type. If it is something that is not getting better, then it would probably be best to have him seen by a veterinarian who can examine him. They would be able to look at the area that you are concerned with, see what might be going on, and get any treatment that he needs. I hope that all goes well for him.

Oct. 5, 2020

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chewy

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Chihuahua

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Constipation
Abnormal Breathing
Lathargic
Sensitive Abdom

My dog’s stomach is hard and when you touch it she starts to whimper. You can tell she has discomfort when laying down and she has her tail between her legs. Her breathing sounds abnormal/heavy and she sounds like she is in a lot of pain. She also hasn’t been going #2 as often as she used to. I am unsure of what to do and need help!

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Dante

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Great Dane

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Abdomen Pain
Lethargy
Excessive Salivation
Nausea
Short Periods Of Mild Heaving

My mother owns a 150-160lb large Great Dane who is also getting fairly old. His full sister died at the age of 6 and he will be this age in October of 2019. Tonight, he woke me up with what appears to be abdominal pain. When I place some pressure on his mid to lower abdomen he is in obvious distress and his stomach seem slightly descended as it is firm to the touch but I am not quite sure. He is salivating watery fluid along drooling more viscous fluid in excessive amounts. He seems lethargic and just exhausted like he has been trying to fall asleep but is unable to find a position that it comfortable. He seems extremely nauseated and he very mildly going through short periods of heaving. He also seems to have slight trouble breathing every time he swallows, almost as if he is having difficulty swallowing. He does have some joint and possible neurological issues due to his size which he is on some medication for along with many allergies which his most server allergies causing excessive itchiness. He is currently on a dose of 3 mls of Adequan monthly which has given him abdominal stress in the past, inducing vomiting type things but he has not vomited tonight and he only experiences these effects on the days it is given to him and his last dose was a week or two ago. I'm wondering if you have any advice as I don't really see it necessary to call our on-call vet at 1 AM. Thank you.:)

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Murphy

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Boston Terrier

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Shaking
Abdomen Pain
Lethargy

My 5 year old Boston terrier was running around playing like normal, then jumped onto the couch and didn't get all the way on due to a stuffed toy in his mouth he was carrying. Immediately started crying, he has a small bump on his left side that is tender to the touch. He won't eat or drink and is just laying around and not really walking. If anyone knows what could be wrong please help.

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gracie

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Dachshund

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

None

my 9 year old dachshund Gracie has been experiencing a major tummy ache for about a month now so I need some information. My dog also doesn't want to eat food or a special treat fresh fiji food water with three pieces of dog food.

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Stella

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Morkie

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Thirst
Abdominal Discomfort

My 8 year old Morkie was recently diagnosed with Chronic Leukemia. When the oncologist looked at her May 2017 blood work results he said she had it then so as far as I know she has had it for about 2 years. The only reason I thought something was wrong with her was that she was drinking tons of water and her abdomen seemed tender. Blood work was done Dec. 2018 which confirmed Chronic Leukemia diagnosis. She then had ultrasound and urine culture done. She has an Ecoli UTI which is currently being treated. My concern is the abdominal pain. She shudders when I touch her abdomen on the left and right side. Ultrasound didn't show anything other than things consistent with her Leukemia like sludge in the gall bladder and slightly enlarged liver. Do you have any idea what could be causing the abdominal discomfort?

Painful Abdomen Average Cost

From 69 quotes ranging from $300 - $6,500

Average Cost

$1,800

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