Jump to section

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.

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image

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

arrow-up-icon

Top

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
arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Painful Abdomen Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$1,800

arrow-up-icon

Top

Written by Darlene Stott

Veterinary reviewed by: Linda S.

Published: 11/22/2015, edited: 03/03/2021

Painful Abdomen Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Basset Hound

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

4 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

answer-icon

Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

recommendation-ribbon

4 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

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Cocker Spaniel

dog-age-icon

Five Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

9 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

answer-icon

Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

recommendation-ribbon

9 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

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Beagle

dog-age-icon

Eight Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

6 found helpful

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

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

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

6 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

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pug

dog-age-icon

Two Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

2 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

answer-icon

Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

recommendation-ribbon

2 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

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

German Shepard chocolate lab mix

dog-age-icon

Eight Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

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

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

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

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

chewy

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

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!

dog-name-icon

Dante

dog-breed-icon

Great Dane

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

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.:)

dog-name-icon

Murphy

dog-breed-icon

Boston Terrier

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

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.

dog-name-icon

gracie

dog-breed-icon

Dachshund

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

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.

dog-name-icon

Stella

dog-breed-icon

Morkie

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

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

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

advertisement image
Need pet insurance?