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What are Abdominocentesis?

Abdominocentesis in dogs is the procedure in which fluid is removed from the abdomen using a needle. Abdominocentesis is used whenever a veterinarian has found a large amount of fluid in the abdomen. Removing the fluid can both treat and aid in the diagnosis of the canine’s underlying health problem. Performed by a licensed veterinarian, most abdominocentesis procedures do not require sedation or the need for a referral to a veterinary specialist. 

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Abdominocentesis Procedure in Dogs

The veterinarian will first take an ultrasound or radiograph to identify the location of the fluid accumulation. The staff will then proceed to assemble all of the necessary equipment, including latex gloves, red and lavender topped tubes for fluid collection, Prot-a-cul culture, 3-6ml syringes, 22 gauge needles, antimicrobial scrub solution and hair clippers. No anesthesia or sedation is required for most abdominocentesis procedures, so a gas anesthetic will not be required unless your dog is restless. The canine will then be placed in lateral or ventral recumbency if he/she is unable to stand. The ventral abdomen will be clipped and aseptically scrubbed with an antimicrobial solution. The umbilicus will be located and a 22 gauge needle will be inserted using a twisting motion cranial to the right, cranial to the left and then caudal to the right and caudal to the left of the umbilicus. Fluid flowing freely at any point during this act of motion means it will not be necessary for the veterinarian to insert an additional needle. However, in some cases, fluid won’t flow until an additional needle is inserted into the abdomen or until suction is placed. The obtained fluids may be analyzed for bacterial organisms, chemical analyses, protein content and cellularity. 

Efficacy of Abdominocentesis in Dogs

Abdominocentesis in dogs is generally a safe procedure that can be performed in most canines without the need of sedation. This procedure is a successful way of removing excess fluids from the abdominal cavity, aiding the dog’s ability to breathe and eliminating pain. The obtained fluids can be used to identify a number of canine health problems.

Abdominocentesis Recovery in Dogs

Following an abdominocentesis procedure your dog will have physical activities restricted to a short walk for a few days to allow the abdomen to heal. If the veterinarian has found the cause of the fluid accumulation or if he/she is till completing diagnostic tests, your dog may be required to stay longer in the veterinary hospital. 

Cost of Abdominocentesis in Dogs

The average cost of an abdominocentesis in dogs is about $95. Evaluation of the fluids and any postoperative medications should also be considered. Ask your veterinarian for the total cost of an abdominocentesis to match your dog’s specific case. 

Dog Abdominocentesis Considerations

An abdominocentesis should not be performed in dogs suspected of having pyometra (infection within the uterus), as proceeding with the procedure can rupture the uterus and cause peritonitis. Although complications associated with this procedure are rare, removing fluid from the abdomen does pose a risk for iatrogenic vascular damage (hemoperitoneum), pneumoperitoneum, the spread of infection, and peritonitis. 

Abdominocentesis Prevention in Dogs

An abdominocentesis procedure is necessary when any accumulation of fluid is found within the abdominal cavity. In canines, an excess amount of fluid can be the result of a ruptured urinary bladder, intestine, or tumor, as well as traumatic injury, cancer, heart failure and liver disease. In order to prevent these conditions, avoid trauma to your canine and practice a healthy canine lifestyle.

Abdominocentesis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Poodle Maltese
12 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


My dog had an abdominocentesis this morning at which time she was given anti nausea medication and I was told to watch her closely for vomiting after the procedure for 2 hours. She had 1 episode of vomiting upon arrival home (1 hour after the procedure). Should I be concerned or continue to monitor?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1527 Recommendations
Without knowing more about Sam, like why she was having an abdominocentesis, I have a hard time commenting on whether her vomiting is expected, or worrisome. It would be best to call your veterinarian, as they know what is going on with her, and ask if you should be concerned or if you should continue to monitor. I hope that all goes well for her.

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Mixed breed
11 Months
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Congestive, tricuspid, pulmonic

My lil man has a quadruple heart condition for which surgery is not an option. We have been managing with meds and yesterday he had his first abdomincentesis. His prognosis is poor and we are aware of that. How often can a dog have this procedure? He is 11 months old.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3203 Recommendations
There is no set frequency for abdominocentesis, the decision to perform the procedure would be down to your Veterinarian as a patient may not always be stable for the procedure and in some cases the fluid may return within 24 hours. Each case is different and your Veterinarian will be able to guide you on Diesel’s specific case. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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