Why Is My Dogs Stomach Distended

The most typical causes of canine stomach enlargement are all grave indications of potentially catastrophic underlying issues. Let’s look at it.

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)

If ignored, your dog could be in one of the most fatal circumstances. In GDV, the stomach twists, trapping food and gas and obstructing blood supply to the affected area. If untreated, this might become fatal in just a few hours. Gas that has become stuck in the stomach region and started to uncomfortably expand as a result of the bloat restricts blood flow and stops digestion.

GDV cannot be attributed to a single, universal cause. Even yet, it is typically believed to be brought on by swallowing too much air and engaging in strenuous activity just after a large meal. Other elements include:

Visit the neighborhood emergency animal clinic right away if your dog starts to show signs of GDV. Several things to watch out for are:

Feeding your dog at least twice daily can help to avoid this problem, as will delaying exercise following meals.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome, a medical disease, could be the root of your pet’s potbelly. This is brought on by an excess of the stress-related hormone cortisol. Bloat is a symptom of Cushing’s syndrome, which is most frequently seen in dogs older than six. Excessive eating, drinking, and urinating, as well as odd pacing and hair loss, all signs your pup may be going through this.


The dangerous illness known as peritonitis is brought on by a stomach or intestinal wall injury. Ingestion of sharp particles like wood splinters, bone fragments, other abrasive environmental components, tumors, and ulcers are the most frequent causes of this. The local animal emergency center must treat this extremely painful ailment right away. It is highly likely that this problem will need to be corrected by emergency surgery.


Many internal illnesses can result in fluid accumulation in the abdomen region. Ascites is a condition that may be brought on by this buildup. This disorder can be brought on by malignancies, liver disease, kidney disease, digestive issues, and heart failure. Additionally, parasites may be to blame. Ascites is one of the signs of a severe late-stage heartworm infection.

How would you handle a dog with an enlarged stomach?

An good prophylactic measure is a gastropexy, which can minimize the severity of bloat. If bloat is present 95% of the time, a gastropexy will aid in preventing the stomach from twisting. Large breed dog owners frequently choose to have the procedure performed on their puppies.

Why is my dog’s belly so bloated?

Dogs can develop an enlarged abdomen for a variety of causes, some of which are more dangerous than others.

The following are some potential causes of your dog’s bloated stomach:

Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV)

Gastric dilatation volvulus, or GDV for short, is one of the most serious and frequent causes of your dog’s bloated stomach. This specific illness has the potential to harm your dog or possibly kill it in a matter of hours.

The dog’s enlarged stomach turns, trapping the gas inside and cutting off the stomach’s blood supply, causing the condition. There isn’t really a single identifiable cause, but it is excruciatingly painful. After a meal, it has been connected to vigorous exertion and swallowing air.

Additional Risk Factors of GDV

Regarding GDV, there are certain additional risk factors to be aware of. Your dog is more likely to become ill if you only feed them once per day, use elevated bowls, serve them dry food, or eat too quickly. Other risk factors include being of a certain breed or having a history of bloat in the family.

Breeds with deep chests, such as St. Bernards and Great Danes, are more susceptible to GDV. In fact, the condition is 20% more common in dogs that weigh over 99 pounds.

Treatment for GDV

GDV cannot be treated by you on your own. You must absolutely visit a veterinarian as soon as you can with your dog. Your dog may whine, have trouble going potty, sit or sleep in an odd position as if they’re uncomfortable, or have a weak pulse in addition to having a large stomach.

In general, treatment include clearing the stomach of extra gas, regulating the heart rate, and taking care of shock. As soon as your dog is more stable, the veterinarian can perform surgery.

Preventing GDV

Since there isn’t a single known cause of GDV, prevention is challenging. Instead of feeding your dog once a day, it is advised that you do so twice or more, and include canned food in the mix. It’s also crucial to give your dog time to digest and recuperate after meals rather than forcing them to exercise after eating.

If your dog is of a breed that is predisposed, you may also want to talk about your veterinarian about a surgical treatment called a gastropexy as a prophylactic step. This can also be done when you’re younger.

Peritonitis is another ailment that can make your dog’s stomach bulge. Because it happens when the dog’s stomach or intestines have ruptured, it is highly severe.

Usually, bone splinters, tumors, or ulcers are to blame for this. Peritonitis can also result from gallbladder or urinary bladder ruptures. You may probably detect bloat and your dog may be unwilling to move because this illness is so unpleasant.

Get your dog to the clinic right away for treatment if he has this condition because it’s quite simple for him to slip into shock. The puncture needs to be fixed, infected fluids need to be removed, and the abdomen needs to be flushed out. It’s best if the veterinarian can treat him right away.

Hyperadrenocorticism, also known as Cushing’s syndrome, is a third frequent cause of stomach swelling in dogs. Your dog will appear potbellied and experience increased hunger, thirst, and urination if he has Cushing’s disease. Some dogs may also begin losing fur or exhibit more panting.

The overproduction of a hormone by the pituitary gland is typically the cause of Cushing’s disease, however an adrenal gland tumor can also be to blame. If a tumor is the cause, it can be surgically removed. Additionally, Cushing’s disease can be treated with medicine.

Another cause of your dog’s stomach appearing bloated is ascites. In turn, swelling is brought on by the buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Your dog may develop ascites for a variety of causes.

Heart failure, liver disease, kidney disease, or intestinal problems are typical causes. Puppies may contract it from several contagious infections.

Why Does My Dog’s Belly Feel Hard?

The most frequent causes of your dog’s tummy feeling hard are ascites, Cushing’s disease, peritonitis, and gastric dilatation volvulus. Bloating may also result from eating too quickly.

What Do You When Your Dog’s Stomach Is Hard?

Take your dog to the clinic immediately away if you don’t think that the hardness of your dog’s stomach is the result of eating too soon. If not treated right away, this severe case of GDV could be fatal.

Why Is My Dog’s Belly So Tight?

Ascites, Cushing’s syndrome, peritonitis, gastric dilatation volvulus, internal hemorrhage, liver dysfunction, heart failure, pregnancy, uterine infection, or other conditions could be to blame for your dog’s tight stomach. You should take your dog to a veterinarian to determine the cause and receive treatment.

What Causes Bloated Stomach in Dogs?

Dogs can experience bloating when gas becomes stuck in their intestines, just like it happens in people. Additionally, having a large meal, swallowing too much air, or exercising shortly after a large meal can all cause it.

How Do I Know If My Dog’s Stomach Hurts?

Since your dog is unable to communicate how his stomach feels, you must be aware of the warning symptoms. Gulping sounds coming from the stomach, flatulence, appetite loss, salivation, diarrhea, vomiting, licking the floor, and eating grass are all warning signs.

Why is my dog’s tummy expanding?

It is simple to write off your dog’s expanding abdomen (or stomach) as the result of eating too many cookies and getting too little exercise, then make a commitment to do better in the future. However, several medical disorders that can give the abdomen the appearance of being larger should not be disregarded.

  • Low thyroid hormone production in hypothyroidism. Due to this, dogs are more likely to gain weight and have lower metabolic rates. Usually, middle-aged and older dogs are affected by this condition. Breeds like Golden and Labrador Retrievers are more likely to experience this. The diagnosis will require a blood test.
  • Hyperadrenocorticismor The adrenal glands produce too much hormone, which causes Cushing’s disease. Despite maybe dropping weight elsewhere, the dog will frequently have a pendulous or “potty” abdomen. The majority of dogs will drink and urinate more frequently. The diagnosis will require a blood test.
  • The abdomen contains a variety of organs, all of which have the potential to grow as a result of disease processes. Dogs can also develop separate, non-organ-related abdomen tumors. To make a diagnosis, radiographs and a blood test are required.
  • A buildup of fluid in the abdomen is called ascites. This may be caused by failing organs, such as the heart or liver, or by protein imbalances in the blood. To make a diagnosis, radiographs and a blood test are required.
  • Bloat/GDV
  • This situation develops swiftly and poses a threat to life. Any dog can experience it, however it is typically seen in deep-chested breeds like German Shepherds or Greyhounds. It is possible for a dog to experience gastric dilatation (enlargement) and volvulus (twisting) after eating and exercising it. Fortunately, there seems to be a hereditary component, so not all dogs are at risk in the same way.

Perhaps your dog’s expanding waist is due to obesity. Considering that 50% of all pet dogs are overweight, it is wise to put the statistic into perspective. Have you been giving your dog more food and less exercise? Is the dog’s overall energy the same? Is the entire dog getting fatter or just the belly? Was it sudden or spread out over a few hours or days? These inquiries could help you save your dog’s life.

How can you determine if your dog’s tummy is swollen?

Quickly manifesting symptoms typically involve one or more of the following:

  • a firm, bloated belly.
  • unable to vomit yet writhing in pain.
  • Drooling.
  • When touched, the abdomen hurts.
  • additional indications of distress including panting and agitation.

How can I tell if my dog’s tummy is swollen?

  • Retching (vomiting without producing any vomitus)
  • excessive salivation (may include foamy saliva)
  • Panting
  • enlarged stomach
  • Pacing
  • Restlessness/Anxiousness
  • Weeping or whining
  • Unwillingness or inability to rest or lie down
  • higher heart rate
  • tan mucous membranes (the tissue around their teeth)
  • the impression of a broad stance with extended elbows

Not every dog with GDV will display all of these symptoms and signs. Even some of the easiest to recognize bloat symptoms are difficult to identify.

A “bloated stomach” is a broad term for the abdomen that describes swelling or distension. There are a lot of mild to severe reasons why your dog’s stomach could appear swollen, including pregnancy, heart failure, liver malfunction, uterine infection (“pyometra”), internal bleeding, GDV, and many others. The majority of these illnesses, including GDV, are extremely serious and life-threatening. It follows that any dog that “looks swollen” should always be taken to the veterinarian right away.

The Akita Rescue Mid-Atlantic Coast’s enlightening video below is quite beneficial. We are quite fortunate that they were able to capture such a crystal-clear instance of GDV/bloat in action! You’ll see that the unfortunate dog in the video is displaying a lot of the signs of canine bloat, as they point out in the voiceover. Fortunately, he was taken to an emergency veterinarian and lived.

How long before a dog dies from bloat?

Bloat in dogs is a sudden, fatal illness that, if untreated, can kill a dog in a matter of hours. The outlook is frequently bleak even when an owner does suspect a case of bloat and contacts a veterinarian right after.

What brings on a bloated stomach?

Overeating causes abdominal edema or distention more frequently than a major sickness. This issue may also be brought on by: air ingestion (a nervous habit) abdominal fluid accumulation (this can be a sign of a serious medical problem)

How can dogs’ swollen stomachs appear?

I’ve spent my entire life around large dogs and adore them. My family and I currently own 2 dogs: a 120-pound Bull Mastiff named Diesel and a female Rottweiler named Cleopatra. As you can expect, we spend a lot of money on dog food. The expenditure is justified, though, because the kisses get bigger the bigger the dog is. However, there are a few things that owners of large breed dogs must take into account that owners of smaller dogs typically do not: the size of the house and its foundation (Diesel likes to eat drywall), the need for an endless supply of poop bags, and the possibility of being literally pushed out of bed in the middle of the night. However, I could not picture a world without my gigantic friends, which is why it is crucial to be aware of BLOAT.

Bloat is a phrase that’s frequently used to characterize GDV. Gastric dilatation and volvulus is referred to as GDV. Some dogs can acquire a disease that causes the stomach to flip onto itself after fast filling with gas and/or liquid. Once spun, the gas cannot escape and keeps accumulating.

Large and giant breed dogs, as well as canines with deep or barrel-shaped chests, are at a greater risk for GDV. Additionally, it has been reported that dogs with jittery personalities, those that are under a lot of stress, those who eat too quickly, and those who have bloated parents or siblings may also be more vulnerable.

Breeds at risk:

Usually, GDV symptoms appear 2–3 hours after a substantial meal. It need not, however, be connected in any way to eating. Unproductive retching is the hallmark symptom of bloat (it looks like your dog has to throw up but nothing comes out). The abdomen feels hard to the touch and appears bloated. They can have trouble getting up or perhaps collapse, and their breathing might seem strained.

The stomach’s entrance and exit are obstructed when it becomes bloated and then turns. Extreme stomach distention reduces blood supply to the stomach and restricts blood flow to the rest of the body. Systemic shock results from substantially impaired systemic circulation. This disorder is almost always lethal if left untreated.

Emergency surgery is used to treat GDV. However, 10–30% of infected dogs die from GDV, even with urgent care and surgery.

There are a few things that can be done at home to reduce the likelihood of bloat, such as feeding your dog at least twice daily and using a bowl that is on the ground rather than one that is elevated on a stand. The greatest method to calm your anxiety would be to think about having a gastropexy as a preventative procedure. By securing the stomach to the interior of the body wall during a preventive gastropexy, the stomach is prevented from rotating when it becomes bloated. This treatment can be carried out when a puppy is being spayed or neutered. Or even during a laparoscopic procedure on larger, already changed dogs.

Bloat is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening illness, thus it is preferable to attempt to avoid it than to cure it once it happens.

If you have inquiries concerning a prophylactic gastropexy, contact your primary care veterinarian.

Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine awarded Dr. Shani Boone her degree in May 2004. Before coming to work with us as a full-time staff veterinarian, she finished her internship at Friendship. Dr. Boone is employed by our departments of Surgery and Primary Care.