November 8, 2013
Dogs with swollen or distended abdomens

Causes of distended abdomens:

(i) Parasites/Parasite-borne diseases: Roundworms (especially in puppies) or heartworms.

In lots of cases, you may see your puppy with a round pot belly and think that the puppy is overeating. But in a healthy puppy, a full stomach after eating could be differentiated from a pot belly due to internal parasites relatively easily. When it is as a result of parasites, the general body condition of the puppy is bad. The ribs may be showing, the legs spindly and you may notice pale gums, tongue and other mucus membranes.{{more}}

A puppy with a full stomach after eating will be happy and cheerful, with good muscle mass over its entire body and in the “pink” of health.

(ii) Non-infectious/Acquired disease: Heart disease (leading to congestive heart failure, which is characterized by ascites, an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen).

This occurs because the heart is unable to pump the blood adequately throughout the circulatory system, and fluid seeps through the blood vessels and ends up in the abdominal cavity. It may also collect in the chest cavity, giving rise to difficult breathing.

(iii) Miscellaneous disorders: Gastric dilatation-volvulus, chronic hypertrophic gastropathy, which causes gastric obstruction, due to pyloric stenosis (narrowing of the junction between the stomach and small intestine), or ileus (decreased intestinal activity, following surgery, obstruction, or disease).

(iv) Foreign bodies: in stomach, small intestine, colon, or rectum. In this case, I am referring to foreign bodies like stones or other objects that the dog may have ingested.

Tumors: in stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, liver, or kidney.

(v) Endocrine disorders: Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease) or pyometra (uterine infection).

(vi) Nutritional/ Metabolic disorder: Malabsorption syndrome, which causes hypoproteinemia (protein deficiency) leading to ascites.

(vii) Infectious diseases: Histoplasmosis or coccidioidomycosis (both fungal).

(viii) Congenital diseases: Chronic hepatitis (commonly in Dobermans, Labrador Retrievers, American and English Cocker Spaniels, Bedlington Terriers, West Highland White Terriers).

What to do: Some types of abdominal distension may or may not be an emergency, depending on the severity, cause, other signs of illness and the dog’s overall status (getting worse, improving, stable). Contact your veterinarian immediately for specific advice about your dog’s situation.

(ix) Other: Obesity or pregnancy.

What to do: If your dog’s distended abdomen is due to obesity, consult your veterinarian about a weight-loss plan. If your dog is pregnant, contact your veterinarian about prenatal care.

For further information, contact:
Dr Collin Boyle Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd.
Tel: 456 4981