When a dog has a swollen belly, it can be a result of simple overeating. Pregnancy in an unsprayed female will also show as a swollen abdomen. However, a swollen belly can also indicate a more serious condition. In some cases, it can indicate a veterinary emergency that needs immediate treatment to save the animal’s life. Here are a few common problems that can cause a swollen abdomen in canines.
Gastric Volvulus Dilation
A condition called canine “bloat” can occur when food and liquids collect in the animal’s intestines, and they begin to twist, cutting off the blood supply. Excessive exercise and swallowing air also play a part in this problem. In addition to swollen belly, your dog may have difficulty defecating, may curl into a ball, have difficulty breathing or have a rapid heart rate. The animal will clearly appear to be in distress.
Canine bloat tends to occur in dogs over the age of 6 years. It is also more common in deep-chested breeds, such as Weimaraners, St. Bernards, and Great Danes. However, any size dog can develop this condition. Canine bloat is an emergency situation and you should get your dog to a vet, like South Seattle Veterinary Hospital immediately.
Cushing’s disease is a hormonal disorder that occurs when a dog’s body produces too much cortisol. This hormone helps to fight infection, control weight and manage stress. It is also important in regulating blood sugar levels. A potbelly is a common symptom of Cushing’s syndrome, along with hair loss, thinning skin, skin infections, frequent urination, increased appetite and excessive panting. Medication can help to control levels of cortisol in the animal’s body. Your vet will do blood testing to determine if cortisol levels are elevated. In some cases, surgery can help to resolve the problem.
Abdominal Fluid Retention
Certain medical conditions can cause accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, resulting in a swollen appearance. Fluid retention can be a symptom of heart disease, kidney disease, or liver failure. Tumors or other intestinal problems can also cause this symptom. Your dog may also show difficulty breathing, lethargy, vomiting, poor appetite, and weakness. Your vet can provide a thorough examination and testing to determine the source of the problem.
The canine gastrointestinal system can be subject to a number of problems. Some are preventable, but others are not and can lead to a veterinary emergency. If you have concerns about your dog’s swollen stomach, make an appointment with your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.