Uroabdomen in Dogs

Uroabdomen in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Uroabdomen?

Uroabdomen in dogs is a relatively common condition found in both dogs as well as cats and emanates from a variety of causes, most of which are trauma related.  While sometimes symptoms will present, that is not always the case.  If uroabdomen is diagnosed in a small animal, this is considered a veterinary emergency situation and will require a veterinary assessment as soon as possible.

Uroabdomen is defined as the presence of urine in the peritoneal cavity.  The peritoneal cavity is defined as the layers of lining of the abdominal and pelvic cavity.

Symptoms of Uroabdomen in Dogs

Uroabdomen basically is a ruptured bladder usually as a result of trauma and, as such, it can present with a variety of symptoms, or no symptoms at all, depending on the cause.  Here are some of the symptoms which could be noted:

  • Urinary habits may be normal or may be impaired
  • Severe lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Reluctance to lie down
  • Abdominal pain may cause your dog to assume a ‚Äúpraying‚ÄĚ position
  • Swollen or distended abdomen
  • Shock symptoms may be exhibited as condition worsens (irregular heartbeat, weak pulse, pale tacky mucous membranes)¬†

If any of these symptoms are noted in your canine family member, seek medical assistance immediately.


There are several types of uroabdomen in dogs and they are based upon their causes:

  • Traumatic - Resulting from a fall, blunt trauma like being hit by an object or being kicked or trauma from a motor vehicular accident
  • Penetrating injuries - Resulting from external penetrating injuries to the abdominal cavity
  • Surgical or iatrogenic - Resulting as an adverse reaction from surgery or other medical intervention
  • Blockages - Resulting from blockages from scar tissue from chronic episodes of cystitis or other urethral or urinary obstructions

Causes of Uroabdomen in Dogs

As noted above, there are a variety of things which are known to cause uroabdomen in dogs.  Here are some of them:

  • Blunt trauma - This is probably the most commonly found cause for uroabdomen; it can occur as a result of the canine being hit by a car, or by a blow to the lower abdominal area of the dog, or from a fall
  • Penetrating injuries can include injuries from sharp objects, long bone fractures or breaks as well as gunshot penetrations
  • Surgical or iatrogenic are causes induced by medical intervention of various types (surgery, catheterization, gynecological procedures)
  • Blockages in the urinary system resulting from prior surgeries, chronic cystitis or urinary tract infections

Many of these causes generally result in rupturing of the bladder to allow the urine to escape into the peritoneal cavity.  The bladder is the organ most often injured in most accidental episodes involving canines and other small animals.

Diagnosis of Uroabdomen in Dogs

Depending on the reason for veterinary assessment, diagnosis of uroabdomen may become a secondary concern.  That is especially true if your canine family member was hit by a car and is being seen to assess if injuries are present.  Your veterinary professional or emergency veterinary professional will be most concerned with stabilizing the patient and making him safe while he assesses the condition of the animal.  Your historical input will be vital to the vet who is evaluating and treating your pet.  

After doing a complete physical examination on the canine, he will likely need blood work, perhaps tissue samples, and imaging studies like radiographic imaging, CT scanning or MRI imaging to assess internal involvement.  A urine sample will be tested as well most likely.  Your vet will be looking for increased potassium and creatinine  levels in the urine and may require an abdominocentesis in which the abdomen is tapped and fluid withdrawn for testing.  A treatment plan will be developed and initiated based on the findings from this testing.

Treatment of Uroabdomen in Dogs

Treatments for uroabdomen will, of course, be commensurate with the diagnosed cause of the condition.  If the bladder is ruptured or torn or otherwise rent, surgical repair may be required, depending on the extent of the injury and the condition of the patient.  Catheter drainage should be expected even if surgery is not.  Surgical decisions will be based upon whether the bladder injury is:

  • A rupture or contusion
  • The injury is extraperitonel (outside the peritoneal cavity) or intraperitoneal (inside the peritoneal cavity) or both
  • The extent of the injury as seen on radiographic imaging (x-rays)

Many contusions can be managed with catheterization and draining of any hematomas which are present as long as the neck of the bladder remains uncompromised and there are no blockages or urethral issues involved.  Treatments will also include regimens to deal with the clinical signs or findings of the physical examination and testing.  These treatment options could include a hospital stay of varying lengths, depending on the other injuries received and diagnosed.

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Recovery of Uroabdomen in Dogs

The mortality rate for bladder rupture is probably around 20% and the primary reason for this is the concomitant (occurring simultaneously) organ injury which could accompany the bladder rupture.  Obviously, the earlier the condition is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis for your canine family member.  If the condition is found and treated early, the management is much less complicated for all parties involved. 

As the owner, it would be prudent to expect that your family pet will need plenty of rest and quiet, healthy diet regimen and plenty of clean fresh water while he heals from uroabdomen.  Of course, it goes without saying, all domestic animals (and humans, too) need the three A’s (affection, attention and affirmation) every day, especially when they’re sick and healing.  Once your beloved canine family member has healed from this malady, extra care should be taken to keep him safe and steps taken to avoid the injury/trauma which caused the condition initially.

Uroabdomen Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Yorkshire Terrier




8 Years


1 found this helpful


1 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Urine In Bladder
My dog had bladder stone surgery Thursday, on Sunday she still wasn't right and it was determined she was leaking urine. Her creatinine, urea and potassium weee elevated. She was stabilized over night and the surgery repair performed today. The doctor did three layers of sutures and a patch and is keeping her for monitoring for a while. I'm just wondering has she made it through the hard Pet? What is her likelihood of survival? Is it going to be worse to have three layers of sutures and a patch? Was that too much? What other complications should they be looking for?

Aug. 30, 2017

1 Recommendations

Whilst there is some debate regarding which technique is appropriate for closing the urinary bladder (at university we were taught inverting double layer closure), a study by the University of Florida showed that single layer suturing to be just as effective (although one dog in each of the three test groups had uroabdomen). Failure of the sutures may be caused for a variety of reasons and still may occur if the Veterinarian did everything correctly; three layers of sutures and a patch seems excessive but your Veterinarian is just playing it safe incase one layer has dehiscence. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVMwww.veterinarypracticenews.com/Medicine/What-You-Need-to-Know-about-Bladder-Surgery

Aug. 30, 2017

A couple follow up questions.. she is now home and seems to have incontinence issues. she'll pee while sitting on my lap but not know it. Is this normal? Also, I am so afraid of urine leaking from bladder again... what are the chances the repair surgery will fail?

Aug. 30, 2017

Zoey's Owner

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German Shepherd




5 Years


0 found this helpful


0 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
I have a 5 year old gsd. His creatinine is 16.5 and is diagnosed with kidney failure. since the past 11 days. He is weak but still moving around, playfull and hungry for food. His condition does not match his reports. I doubt the diagnosis and feel that their is some other problem with him. Can anyone help??

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