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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, any underlying pathology will need to be treated without delay because there may be a risk of illnesses such as an obstruction, tumor or organ disease.

Pain in the 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:

  • Change, alteration, or extreme difference in posture
  • Difficulty rising from a lying down position
  • Vocalization of pain
  • Abnormal breathing pattern
  • Swollen, tense abdomen
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Bloody, mucous diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Drooling
  • Dehydration
  • Shock

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 causes of abdominal pain:

  • Metabolic - e.g. kidney failure
  • Peritoneal Cavity - e.g. trauma or sepsis
  • Urinary - e.g. urethral obstruction, pyelonephritis
  • Digestive - e.g. pancreatitis, stomach ulcers, ruptured bile duct
  • Reproductive - e.g. a ruptured pyometra (a uterus infection) or testicular torsion
  • Infectious Disease - e.g. a viral or bacterial infection
  • Musculoskeletal - e.g. trauma to the abdominal muscle or intervertebral disc disease
  • Miscellaneous e.g. ruptured tumour
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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 and life-threatening situation if not addressed immediately. Some of the possible causes are listed below:

  • Intestinal intussusception
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cystitis
  • Peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal lining)
  • Ischemia (inadequate blood supply to an organ or part of the body)
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction
  • Obstipation (severe constipation)
  • Bloat
  • Cancer
  • Leptospirosis
  • Parasitic infection
  • Distension of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Prostatitis
  • Gastritis
  • Gastrointestinal ulcer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intervertebral disc 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 vet will also need to know if your pet has been neutered or, if not, if there is any chance of pregnancy.

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 any fluid in the abdomen. Throughout the entire diagnostic period, the veterinarian will monitor your dog closely, in 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 any nausea and vomiting may also 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 fluids 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 fluids for stabilization, pain therapy (analgesics), 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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Cost of Painful Abdomen in Dogs

Treating an acute abdomen can be expensive as several tests may be needed to determine what is going on. If surgery is required, the cost will inevitably be more. Similarly, those who require long hospital stays often leave with large bills.

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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

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Basset Hound

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10 Years

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Unknown severity

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6 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Abdomen Pain , No Stool, Bile Vomit, Decreased Appetite

Geriatric female spayed basset Hound. Noticable decreased appetite. Still drinking water. More lethargic than normal. Lots of laying down. Vomit of bile yesterday. No normal bowel movement in 2 days. Offered plain yogurt, some interest but did not eat all. Offered a smaller kibble, ate some not all. Lots of in and out walking around. Drinks inside then drinks outside. Urinating normally. Not a toy dog, very unlikely foreign body obstruction.

March 10, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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6 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear she has been unwell and appreciate your concern. While it is hard to assess from a photo, her eyes do look sunken which could indicate dehydration. You may also find her gums are dry or tacky to the touch. Her symptoms of a reduced appetite, lethargy, vomiting and restlessness are concerning. They are not specific to any one disease and there are several potential causes including: Pancreatitis, Bloat, Gastrointestinal Obstruction (this can occur due to e.g. a cancer or foreign body and is not restricted to small breeds of dogs), Liver disease etc. A vet visit is strongly advised so she can be examined in person. They may also run some basic tests such as a blood test and abdominal scan, so we can reach our diagnosis. Treatment will depend on what is found but may include e.g. intravenous fluids, antibiotics and pain relief.

March 10, 2021

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Cocker Spaniel

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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12 found helpful

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

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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12 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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Painful Abdomen Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$1,800

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