A dog’s stomach should typically feel soft to the touch. If your dog’s stomach feels unusually hard, that may indicate that they have a digestive problem. Cushing’s disease, peritonitis, and gastric dilatation volvulus are among the common stomach conditions that result in a hard stomach. You should immediately take your dog to the vet if their stomach is hard.
Many diverse conditions, including various stomach problems, infections, and internal bleeding, can result in a hard stomach.
Being a responsible pet parent means keeping a watch out for stomach problems. If left untreated, stomach troubles in dogs can result in major medical complications, therefore you don’t want to abandon your dog in pain. Take your dog to the vet right away if they exhibit signs of a stomach issue, such as vomiting or diarrhea.
Why then is my dog’s tummy more rigid than usual? This article will discuss the causes of a dog’s hard stomach and what you may do to treat it. The following information is important if your dog’s stomach is unusually hard.
Should the stomach of my dog feel hard?
For this portion of the physical examination, start by looking at your dog’s stomach. Look for lumps and bumps, learn how a dog’s stomach should feel, and learn how to check for musculoskeletal problems. After reading the last piece in this series, you should be fully equipped to examine your dog for a screening.
How to Check Your Dogs Stomach
The examination is rather simple: gently massage your hands into the stomach of your dog, beginning slightly behind the ribs. You will be acquiring a sense of what is typical and then keeping an eye out for any upcoming alterations, just as with all other sections of the body.
If your pet has just eaten, you might feel a bulge in the left side of the tummy, which is where the stomach is located. This is common immediately after eating. Continue moving your hands lightly over the entire area as you move toward the back of the body. A dog’s stomach should not be bloated and should feel soft. A hard stomach in your dog may indicate bloat and necessitate emergency medical care.
any physical examination (palpation) that makes you sigh or have trouble breathing.
Any sign of pain is serious and needs to be treated right away; sudden, intense abdominal pain is referred to as an acute abdomen and can be brought on by a number of illnesses, such as pancreatitis (pancreatic inflammation), sepsis (a stomach infection brought on by a ruptured bowel or foreign object like a foxtail), bleeding into the stomach (from rat bait or a ruptured spleen), trauma, tumors, or abscesses.
One of the main symptoms of bloat or GDV is a hard, rigid, or enlarged abdomen. This requires quick intervention.
What should you do if a dog has a hard stomach?
Your dog’s stomach must be bloated, hard, or have an unusual shape for the disease to be true bloat and not weight gain. Make a quick call to your veterinarian if you observe this. You should take him to the emergency vet if it is after business hours. Bloat typically happens when food or gas causes the dog’s stomach to expand.
Why is my dog’s belly so fatty and solid?
A dog’s abdomen that is larger or fuller than usual and protrudes beyond the body’s typical shape is said to have abdominal enlargement (see image).
Another phrase with a similar meaning is abdominal distention, which frequently refers to cases of abdominal enlargement that are more severe.
What are some causes of abdominal enlargement?
Depending on the age and gender of the dog, abdominal enlargement can occur for a variety of causes. It could be a straightforward issue or perhaps a typical one in some animals. But belly expansion can also be a sign of a serious underlying illness.
Simple reasons for belly growth include:
- Worms in the intestine: Many worms in the intestine can enlarge the abdomen and give a pet a “pot-bellied appearance.” Since pups are more prone to have worms than adult dogs, this is frequently seen in them. In most cases, a straightforward deworming regimen will solve the issue.
- Obesity: When a dog eats excessively, doesn’t exercise enough, or does both, weight increase usually results. Obesity causes abdominal fat to build up and may cause abdominal enlargement. Obesity in dogs may also be a symptom of hormone imbalance (see below).
- Female pregnant dogs typically exhibit belly expansion around the middle to end of pregnancy. The majority of dog owners are aware when their female dog has given birth and anticipate that an abdominal bulge will appear. Spaying female pets who are not reproducing is the simplest technique to prevent pregnancy, ideally while they are young. Try to keep track of when your dog gets spayed if she hasn’t already “You will be ready for potential belly growth from pregnancy and in heat (ready to mate).
- Organ enlargement: The belly may appear bloated if one or more abdominal organs have grown in size. Organ swelling is frequently a symptom of a deeper ailment, such as an infection, inflammation, tumor, neoplasia, or another condition.
- Abdominal fluid that is not constrained: An abdominal fluid buildup is usually cause for concern. Urine, blood, or an effusion—a fluid that escapes from body tissues and gathers in the abdomen—can all be considered free fluids.
- Free pee in the abdomen implies a damaged bladder that is leaking urine; this typically happens after trauma like being hit by a car.
- Free blood in the abdomen is linked to malignancies, bleeding diseases, surgery, trauma, and some types of surgery.
- Effusions may form due to a variety of conditions, including liver illness, heart disease, malignancies in the abdomen, and inflammation of the abdominal lining. Always look into effusions to determine the underlying reason.
- Cancer/tumor: Abdominal organ-specific malignancies and tumors frequently cause abdominal hypertrophy.
- Heart disease: Heart failure can cause the liver to grow and can also lead to an accumulation of free fluid in the abdomen, which can enlarge the abdomen.
- When the thyroid gland is unable to create adequate thyroid hormone, hypothyroidism occurs. Even if these dogs eat less and move more, they still get lethargic and put on weight. Over time, fat deposits surrounding the abdominal organs cause a protruding abdomen.
- Cushing’s Disease is a condition that affects the adrenal glands “hyperadrenocorticism. Dogs with the condition frequently have abdominal enlargement as a result of liver enlargement, abdominal fat buildup, and weakening body walls.
- Gas buildup: Large volumes of gas can become trapped in the stomach and intestines of some dogs, particularly large deep-chested breeds like Great Danes, St. Bernards, and German Shepherds, leading to major abdominal distention. Sometimes the intestines and stomach twist, resulting in a life-threatening condition that calls for immediate surgery.
How do we determine the cause of abdominal enlargement in my dog?
A thorough history and physical examination serve as the starting point for the investigation. The “history of disease” for your dog includes information regarding the duration and speed of any belly enlargement as well as any circumstances that may have occurred before you became aware of the change. For instance, “hypothyroidism” may be present in an overweight, middle-aged dog with a history of sluggish, steady belly expansion (low thyroid hormone). In contrast, bleeding into the abdomen is more likely to occur in a young dog who has been struck by a car and exhibits acute abdominal distension. A thorough medical history provides the vet with crucial hints regarding what is causing the belly bulge.
“A thorough history and physical examination are the first steps in the search for solutions.”
A comprehensive physical examination includes checking the dog out from head to tail, palpating the abdomen, and using a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs (gently squeezing or prodding the abdomen with the fingertips to identify abnormalities). A thorough examination may find other anomalies that could account for the abdominal enlargement, such as heart disease, organ enlargement, an abdominal mass, the presence of free fluid, or intestinal gas.
The history and physical examination are crucial, but more testing is typically necessary, and your veterinarian could advise performing screening tests. These straightforward examinations reveal details about the pet’s general health. Complete blood count (CBC), serum biochemistry profile, and urinalysis are the three most popular screening tests.
What might these screening tests indicate?
(a)Complete Blood Count: This straightforward blood test reveals details on the various blood cell types. These include platelets, which aid in blood clotting, white blood cells, which fight infection and respond to inflammation, and red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to the tissues. The CBC identifies the presence of aberrant cells in circulation and offers information about the quantity, size, and shape of the distinct cell types.
The CBC may show anemia, a condition where there are less red blood cells than normal in the blood. Mild anemia in a canine with belly enlargement may indicate hypothyroidism or another chronic illness. An abdominal tumor or more severe anemia may indicate bleeding into the abdomen as a result of trauma. An increase in white blood cells may be a sign of an infection, inflammation brought on by a tumor, or an accumulation of fluid in the belly.
(b) Serum biochemistry is the study of serum’s chemical composition (the liquid part of blood). Serum contains a variety of chemicals, including as proteins, enzymes, lipids, carbohydrates, hormones, electrolytes, and more. The health of the body’s organs and tissues, including the liver, kidney, and pancreas, can be determined by measuring the levels of various chemicals in the blood, which also aids in the early detection of diabetes.
Abnormal biochemistry findings in canines with abdominal distension may reveal which organ is impacted and what the issue might be. Examples include:
- An underlying liver condition or maybe Cushing’s disease may be indicated by excessively high levels of the liver-related enzymes alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and gamma glutamyltransferase (GGT).
- Abdominal distension may be caused by an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen due to extremely low levels of albumin, a blood protein.
- Serum globulins are immune system-produced proteins that can indicate the presence of malignancy, an infection, or inflammation.
- A dog’s elevated cholesterol level may be a sign of underlying hypothyroidism.
- Very low blood sugar levels may indicate a pancreatic cancer called an insulinoma.
The chemical and physical characteristics of urine are examined during a urinalysis. A urinalysis is crucial for the accurate interpretation of the serum biochemistry profile in sick animals, especially in those with renal or diabetic disease.
What other tests might be done to investigate abdominal enlargement?
Additional testing might involve: Depending on the outcomes of the history, physical exam, and screening tests:
1. Specific blood testing: If a specific disease or sickness is suspected, specialized blood tests may be done. There are numerous specialized tests, some of which include:
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, 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.
Why is the tummy of my dog bloated?
Never try to determine the reason of your dog’s stomach problems yourself as this can be risky as stomach swelling in dogs can be deadly as well. Get your dog to a veterinary hospital or an emergency vet right away if the abdomen of your dog appears bloated or out of the ordinary.
Several factors can result in a dog’s stomach swelling:
Untreated gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), also known as “the mother of all emergencies,” can be fatal to a dog in a matter of hours. Bloat occurs when food or gas causes a dog’s stomach to expand. GDV occurs when the bloated stomach rotates, trapping the gas inside and cutting off the blood flow to the stomach.
There doesn’t seem to be a single cause for GDV, however swallowing air plays a role, and strenuous exercise right after eating may also act as a trigger. GDV is quite painful. GDV’s actual cause is still up for debate. Several of the several potential factors that could raise a dog’s risk of GDV include:
- having a large chest. The danger of bloat is highest in breeds like the Great Dane, St. Bernard, and Weimaraner; in fact, dogs above 99 pounds have a 20% chance of bloat. Small dogs can also have the illness, though it is uncommon.
- simply giving your dog one meal each day
- elevating the food and water bowls.
- a history of bloat/GDV in the family
- eating too fast
- Dogs 7 to 12 years old are more at risk since they are older.
Bloat must be treated immediately with emergency care, which may involve decompressing the stomach to release extra gas, controlling shock, and establishing heart stability. Once the patient is stable, surgery is frequently performed. Do not hesitate to take your dog to a veterinary hospital right away if his or her abdomen appears enlarged or distended or if the animal exhibits any signs of discomfort.
Bloat is difficult to prevent because so many factors may contribute to its development, but there are a few things you can do to lower your dog’s risk, such as:
- Give your dog at least two meals every day.
- Add canned goods
- Make sure your dog has a nap after a meal; avoid vigorous exercise when you’re full.