Causes of a Distended Abdomen in Pets

A dog with chronic abdominal distention should have a full medical workup

The clinical presentation of a distended abdomen in pets can have many causes. The three big causes of abdominal distention are excessive fluid buildup, fat buildup, and gas accumulation. Masses or tumors may also cause a distended abdomen.

Any dog with chronic abdominal distention should have a full medical workup, including an exam, blood work, and x-rays and ultrasound if indicated. Treatment of abdominal distention will depend upon the specific cause revealed by this initial workup. Causes of fluid buildup may include metabolic disease of the liver, kidney, pancreas; heart disease; chronic intestinal disease; as well as cancer. Prognosis for a pet with a distended abdomen will depend upon early identification and treatment of the underlying causes.

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