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Why Does My Dog Have a Swollen Belly?

Author:

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He works mostly with dogs and exotic animals.

What is wrong if my dog has a swollen belly?

What is wrong if my dog has a swollen belly?

Your dog should not have a big belly. If they do, and it has been happening gradually, it may just be caused by fat and can be dealt with at home by putting them on a good diet.

If you notice that your dog has a swollen belly, especially if the abdomen is painful, they are eating less, having problems breathing, and also have a thin face or muscle loss in other parts of the body, get help from your vet as soon as possible.

If your dog is in pain, do something right away. A swollen and painful belly is an emergency!

Reasons Your Dog Might Have a Swollen Belly

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease (like heartworm, heart failure due to severe dental disease)
  • Parasites
  • Poisoning
  • Obstipation (late stage constipation)
  • Urinary obstruction/stones
  • Hormonal (like Cushings)
  • Torsion (a twisted stomach, liver, or other organ)
  • Pyometra (an infected and swollen uterus in a female dog that has not been spayed)
  • Other infection (like peritonitis, hepatitis, etc.)
Sometimes a swollen belly in a dog can indicate a life threatening condition.

Sometimes a swollen belly in a dog can indicate a life threatening condition.

Tests That Your Vet Might Perform If Your Dog Presents With a Swollen Belly

If the physical exam in abnormal, and the vet can tell that the dog is not just fat, pregnant, or suffering from a torsion, the side of the belly will be clipped and scrubbed before a needle is inserted. If fluid is present, a small amount will be drawn off and examined under the microscope.

The thickness (specific gravity) of the fluid will be evaluated. It will be checked for white and red blood cells, bacteria, and any other abnormalities.

Based on the results, your dog may also have his abdomen (and chest) x-rayed and then might need an ultrasound, an EKG, or even exploratory surgery and a biopsy.

A swollen belly may be from gastric torsion and your dog will need emergency surgery.

A swollen belly may be from gastric torsion and your dog will need emergency surgery.

How Will Your Dog Be Treated If He Comes in With a Swollen Belly?

Treatment is going to depend on what was found during the dog´s exam and testing.

  • For cancer (lymphoma), your dog might be put on chemotherapy, or you can discuss some alternative treatments for cancer.
  • If your dog is having trouble breathing because of the fluid and heart failure, it might be drained off and then your dog can be started on medications.
  • If the heart failure is secondary to heartworm disease, that will have to be treated too. I recommend the slow kill method, but some veterinarians will want to destroy the worms by killing them all at once.
  • Surgery for bloat, other types of torsion, pyometra, urinary obstruction, and maybe for obstipation
  • Your dog might need to be on supportive care (like fluids and hospitalization) until the cause of the problem is determined, like in cases of peritonitis.
  • If your dog is in distress because of breathing problems, the fluid might be drained off and then he can be treated with antibiotics for the hepatitis or other infection/inflammation.

A Swollen Belly Is an Emergency

A swollen belly might not seem like much, but it is one of the most serious problems you can find during your examination of your dog. Your dog may or may not get better. It really depends on the cause of the swollen belly and how quickly you find out what is wrong.

Your vet can give you a better idea on whether your dog is going to get better after the problem has been determined. Getting thing taken care of right away might mean the difference between life and death.

If you ignore the problem, your dog might end up dying in terrible pain. Find out what is wrong, and do something about it right away.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: My dog has a swollen round belly, but as his belly gets bigger, his spine and ribs begin to show more; he definitely has alot of muscle loss but is acting completly fine, eating fine, etc. Im starting to get worried about him. What could be wrong?

Answer: There is no way that your dog can be diagnosed without an exam. If he has a large belly and is losing weight, he may have a heart disease, like heartworm. Is he on a preventative?

You need to take your dog to your local vet for an exam. If he has fluid on the abdomen, they can take a sample and may be able to tell you if your dog has cancer, etc.

Question: My dog has a swollen belly, rapid breathing and eats a small amount only. What should I do? (I have no time to bring him to a vet since I'm on daytime shift.)

Answer: Your dog might have pyometra (a uterine infection), peritonitis, etc. There is no way that anyone can diagnose her problem over the internet. If you cannot take her to the vet for an exam, please ask someone you know to take her.

Question: I have a Labrador, and he is just forty-five days old. His stomach is a little big; no signs of pain or anything and he is so active. Why is his stomach large?

Answer: The most common cause for a very large abdomen on a puppy is parasites. Has your dog been checked for worms? If not, take a stool sample to your vet and have it checked.

It is also possible that it is just a normal puppy stomach. At that age a large stomach is okay. Ask your vet when you take him in for his first vaccinations.

Question: My dog's belly goes from normal to hard and is causing him discomfort. Been to vet 2x all his vitals and blood work came back good this afternoon. He got excited and wanted a walk, so I put on his harness; he walked 20ft, and he sat down. His stomach got hard, and I had to carry him in. What could be causing this?

Answer: Has your dog had x-rays of his belly taken? It sounds like a torsion, but I would expect the pain to be constant unless it is relieving itself and then happening again later.

If the x-rays are normal, the next step would be an ultrasound. If that is normal too the only other way to diagnose this is by a diagnostic surgery.

Question: My dog is 25. He's a Chihuahua-terrier mix. Over the last 24 hours, he went from weighing 12 pounds to 20. His stomach is swollen and so is his throat. I don't know what to do. What is wrong?

Answer: You need to get your dog to a vet right away. The most likely thing, considering his age, is congestive heart failure, but he may have a type of cancer that your vet will be able to treat.

At least the vet can help you figure out what sort of fluid is filling his abdomen so quickly.

Question: What if I can't take my dog to the vet when he is laying down and looking bloated and in pain?

Answer: If you do not want to take your dog to the vet because you are too busy or think it will cost too much, you should be aware that your dog might not live the rest of the night. If he has a twisted stomach or another organ, there is not much you can do at home.

If you cannot go to a vet because there is none available, like in some countries, you can try going to a feed store that sells animal antibiotics and treating the dog for an infection like pyometra. I do not know what antibiotics are available at the feed stores where you live so I cannot recommend which one you should buy. You can also try giving your dog activated charcoal to bind any poisons still in his GI tract.

Question: I have a labrador and he is just 31 days old. He has a swollen belly, but there's no sign of any pain. He is active, but why does he have a large stomach?

Answer: A 31 day old puppy should still be with his mom.

The most common cause of a swollen belly is a worm infestation. He may have a severe protein deficiency too. If you have not dewormed him yet take a fecal sample to your vet and find out what is wrong. If the test is negative you need to get him in for an exam as soon as possible.

Question: My dog's abdomen is enlarged, and his x-ray is cloudy, so his organs aren't visible. What could be the problem?

Answer: If the organs are surrounded by fluid then they are difficult to see on an x-ray. Fluid on the abdomen can be caused by heartworm infection, heart failure, and many other diseases. The only way to find out what is wrong at this point is to drain off some of the fluid and examine it.

The fluid may be pus, it may be blood, or it may just be a clear protein rich fluid. Find this out as soon as possible so that he can be treated correctly.

Question: My dog is not eating, her stools are very very soft and dark brown, her stomach is tight and hurts. And her lower back looks bumpy, also she is losing a lot of hair and her anus looks a little different than before. What kind of condition might she have?

Answer: There are numerous conditions that can cause the symptoms you describe. You need to get your dog to your regular veterinarian and find out if she has Cushing's disease.

Question: My dog´s belly is swelling up. What injection can be used?

Answer: Find out why your dog has a swollen belly before giving any kind of medication. There is no medicine for "swollen belly."

Question: My blue heeler had pneumonia a few days ago, and now her stomach is swollen; she breaths heavy and is in pain shivering with her tail down. What could it be?

Answer: Your dog might have peritonitis, a secondary infection after pneumonia. The best thing you could do is have her abdomen tapped and a vet can examine the fluids and find out if she has an infection. Get her to your vet right away.

Question: My Maltese is two-years-old, and just recently the area above her vaginal area started to swell and turn a bit purple. She has also started to breathe rapidly, but shows no sign of pain other than irritated eyes. The swelled area isn't hard, but actually very soft. Is there a way for me to help her?

Answer: It may be an inguinal hernia, but it is difficult to tell without examining it. If the hernia is just fat, it is not a problem. If it is larger, however, and some small intestine passes into the hernia and becomes twisted, the dog could suffer from necrosis, peritonitis, and even die.

I think you should take her to your regular vet and have her examined. She may or may not need surgery, depending on the severity. I cannot recommend that this is treated at home until you find out how bad it is.

Question: I have a 10-year-old, three-legged rescue Miniature Pinscher. She's licked her vulva on & off but the other day had a pee accident/leakage while holding her. We started her on Clavamox in case of UTI. A day or 2 later I noticed her belly was distended but all vitals, excrement, behavior, etc. are normal. When she wakes up in the morning, her belly isn't swollen. It's now happened three days in a row. It's not bloated and doesn't seem to be causing pain; she doesn't seem to notice. Any thoughts?

Answer: Are there any abnormalities in the urinalysis? It does not sound like a UTI.

The first thing I thought of when I read your question was hormone induced urinary incontinence. This would explain why she seems more bloated in the morning.

If she is not spayed, however, you also have to consider pyometra. She would not be more swollen in the morning.

The other thing you need to rule out is a cancer in the bladder. She should have x-rays to examine the bladder, and possibly contrast x-rays to look for soft tissue tumor that does not show up on a regular x-ray.

The last possibility is damage to the bladder, but like with cancer and pyometra the swollen abdomen would not be getting smaller during the day.

I do not know what your financial situation is like of course but I definitely recommend that you have this looked at as soon as possible. If it is a tumor, it might be removed but if it is left too long it can grow until it is too large to remove. If it is a bladder injury, it should be closed as soon as possible.

Question: My American bulldog puppy is two-months-old, vaccinated and dewormed. Suddenly, her stomach became bloated, and she can hardly walk. Why is this happening?

Answer: Your puppy may have a treatable condition like hepatitis or peritonitis. If you do not get her to your vet and have the stomach tapped no one can tell you what is going on. If pus comes out, she may be treated with antibiotics. If it is blood, she may need exploratory surgery.

It is probably a good idea to take an x-ray to find out what is going on but only after the swollen belly is examined and tapped.

My best advice to you is to get her to a vet ASAP. If you do not act as soon as possible, your puppy can die.

Question: My dog is passing worms and his ribcage area is swollen. What could this be?

Answer: The swelling may or may not be due to the worm burden. If you saw segments they are tapeworms, if you saw long worms they are probably roundworms. You need to check if the swelling is all over or only in one spot and if it is over the stomach. You most likely need to take him to your local vet as soon as possible.

Question: My dog’s abdomen is swollen. He is in a lot of pain. He cries out a lot. The x-rays the vet took show nothing abnormal. Blood tests show nothing abnormal. What could it be?

Answer: Pain is almost always a sign of a twisted organ, like a bloated stomach. The gas buildup would show up on an x-ray, but if it was a twisted liver lobe, it would not. Those organs are mostly fluid.

If you can afford it and your vet can do so, have an exploratory laparoscopy done to check your dog's internal organs. If it cannot be done, an exploratory laparotomy (a surgery to open the abdomen and look around inside) is the next best thing.

If this were you, and you were in pain and the physician could not figure out what was wrong based on x-rays and bloodwork, this is what he would want to do next.

Please do not wait if your dog is in pain.

Question: I gave my dog worm medication for heartworms, and she has blown up like a balloon. What should I do?

Answer: If your dog's face and lips are swollen, she is probably having an allergic reaction to the medication. If you have access to an emergency veterinarian, you should take her in right away so that he can monitor her breathing (the throat can become swollen too) and give her a shot for the reaction.

If you do not have access to a vet, then you might be able to give her an antihistamine. See if you have anything on the shelf at home and check the internet first to find out if it is safe for dogs.

If you have nothing available, and cannot take her anywhere, watch her closely. You can also call poison control if you can inform them of which medication you gave your dog.

© 2014 Dr Mark

Comments

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 30, 2020:

Ed, thanks for taking the time to write back. I am glad to hear he is doing better now.

Ed on July 29, 2020:

Hello Dr Mark,

Tank you for the reply, I had the surgery done the very same day of my comment. My dog had a 4.5 lbs cyst near his prostate taken out. My dog had been at the vets office since then. He came home today, watching him for the next three days as the Doctor said he might not make it because his kidney Creatine levels have been in the 4.80 range. He is still not urinating on his own as the catheter was removed today. Hoping for the best.

once again thank you for your response.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 23, 2020:

Jho, parasites are the most common cause of a swollen belly in a puppy that age, so have a fecal check done. There are other causes, of course, as listed above, but check for worms first.

Jho on July 23, 2020:

I have a 3mos old puppy. I just wanted to know the causes of swelling behind her organ. She is in pain. Thanks

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 23, 2020:

Ed, does he have ultrasound? That is one alternative to exploratory surgery, which can be hard on an older dog.

Ed on July 22, 2020:

Hello,

My ten year old pitbull is not eating and vomiting. I took him to the vet and he stated that he does not know whats wrong with him but wants to open him up to see. any suggestions would be helpful.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 04, 2020:

Shanna, if she is just constipated you can try medical treatment, but if she is obstipated (the feces beccomes dried out inside and nothing will come out) she will need treatment from your local vet.

Here are some things you can try: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/constipation-relief-fo...

Shanna on July 02, 2020:

My dog is not using the bathroom or eating but her stomach hard and her bottom is sensitive. We thought she as pregnant but she is not. Please help.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 23, 2020:

Brooklime--what was the fluid drained from the abdomen? A spay is a very simple surgery, so unless it was blood it is most likely a reaction to the anesthesia. If it was blood it is probable Von Willebrands, a type of hemophilia that Dobies are prone too.

If they did not evaluate the fluid you need to consider a referral to a university veterinary college for further workup.

Brooklime on June 20, 2020:

My fit healthy 2 1/2 year old Doberman was spayed the next day she would nt keep her food down and was peeing and drinking excessively the vet then gave her anti inflammatory and antibiotics after 3 days she was still vomiting and her stomach was starting to swell took her back to the vets said nothing was wrong but gave her a stomach liner to help keep her food down over the next few days her bloating got worse so back she went they drained out some fluid and said they believed in was a liver disease but would need to have her back in for the day to test her liver function these test concluded her liver was normal she continued to swell and become lethargic could hardly move and could nt squat to pee she was given water tablets these did not help so she has just been taken back in for more fluid to be drained and intravenous diuretics what could be wrong I’m beginning to think something has gone wrong while she was spayed

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 15, 2020:

Tim, are you sure it is not just normal age-related weight gain and changes? All dogs become a little less energetic with time, and since she is not vomiting, having diarrhea, etc it sounds pretty normal. I wish your regular vet could palpate her abdomen to give you more insight, but if everything else is okay I do not think you should worry much.

Best of luck on the job search.

Tim Sheahan on June 14, 2020:

We have a female lab mix with an apparent swollen stomach. She appeared to have gone through a false pregnancy recently, but it has been over two months since she would have been due. The physical symptoms such as enlarged and swollen nipples have reduced back to normal, but her stomach still appears bloated. Other than that, she has a normal appetite eating one meal per day and regular bowel movements. She seems a little lethargic and not as happy as she used to be or at least a bit less energetic. She is eight years old and overall seems to be happy and acting normal.

My wife tried to get her into a vet a couple of months ago when she thought she was pregnant, but because of COVID-19, they would not see her. I am now out of work and concerned about money but want our dog to be healthy.

Thanks,

Tim

unicon on May 08, 2020:

thank u this really helped me

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 31, 2020:

nanette, there are a lot of possibilities but you really need to take your dog in for an exam to find out what is wrong. Not doing so is cruel.

nanette on March 30, 2020:

my 9 year old doberman has a huge swollen belly he eats drinks alot am i being cruel can anything be done?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 30, 2019:

Kathy--have you had your dog examined by his vet? Older dogs can have heart disease, leading to edema similar to what you have described.

Kathy on December 28, 2019:

My older dogs stomach very bloated goes into his kegs n chest almost loke fluid

Margaret Ennis on October 23, 2019:

I have a bichon of ten she has a swollen tummy Vets gave blood test and tested urine and told me not to worry at her age best left alone she is eating and drinking well

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 30, 2019:

Tonya, you cannot. Your dog can die from some of these conditions.

Tonya burdette on June 29, 2019:

My dogs stomach is bloated what I do to help him from home

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 17, 2019:

Regina, has your puppy been checked numerous times for parasites? Worms are the most common reason for a swollen stomach in dogs of that age.

Regina phillips on February 16, 2019:

I have a 4 month old American Pitbull and she is updated on her shots, but she has a really large abdomen. I’m concerned although she is very active, she is eating extremely well, drinking water, and also pooping and peeing with no problems. She shows no signs of pain. Why is her stomach so big?

Aruna madhushan on September 27, 2018:

My dog is 2 month old.last day it pink of health.last night it bark in pain.after it's stomach is big and his legs are not work.what happend it?how can i get back normally?

Amber on September 26, 2018:

I have a 10 year old english bulldog. His belly has been bloates for weeks now and wont go down. This has happened before i changed his food a d it went down. This time it is not..no real symptoms are obvious just discomrt because his belly is so big.

Penny Stojcevski on September 15, 2018:

Hey,

I have a beautiful shep lab corso mix. She really looks like a cute little black lab. 60 ish pounds. She’s intact. I was really convinced two weeks ago (give or take) that she was having a phantom pregnancy. Her nipples got big, she got moody with my other dog Charlie whom is her bestest pal. They’ve grown together. Any who I recognized the signs in her. But never noticed a heat at all. Charlie is neutered but he still ties with her. And this never happened after the whole phantom pregnancy thing. No period nothing. I thought after she realized that these would resume normally. Now I noticed like a week maybe less ago that her abdomen seems harder than norm. I thought am I losing my mind?... I thought hmm maybe she’s constipated or something. I ted to panic so I was trying to rationalize before I really freak out. Which is happening now! Omg. But her abdomen is looking distended to me. She’s peeing and pooping and playing. She even got into my fridge while I was at work. So she’s her usual sassy self. I’m worried though. She’s my sweet Elektra and I love her. I’m going to take her in Monday when my vet opens.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 13, 2018:

Michael, I am not sure where you are at but you might want to find out what the cost for treating a distended abdomen costs at your local hospital. The hospital does not do any more than the vet.

If you want to learn why prices are high you can read https://pethelpful.com/dogs/why-vet-care-is-expens...

michael thompson on September 13, 2018:

if vets dint charge such extortionate prices for treatment,some might be willing to go there. but its rediculous what they charge for how little they do.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 23, 2018:

Jacky, a senior dog with a swollen belly needs to be examined and probably have xrays. There is always the possibility that it is cancer, even if the signs go away for awhile. Liver disease and kidney disease should also be considered.

I am glad that Buddy is not in pain when you mess with his stomach. He still should be checked out as soon as possible though.

Jacky on August 22, 2018:

Hello. My senior dog, Buddy, had gotten so skinny and stopped eating for awhile. It wasn't until a week ago when he started eating again, however, two days ago I noticed that his stomach is very round now and im starting to get worried. He's been eating very well everyday so I don't want to assume its something bad. He also doesn't have pain when I touch his stomach.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 12, 2018:

Serene, have you taken her in to your local vet for blood work? With those symptoms, you need to consider diabetes mellitus, Cushings, cancer, kidney disease, or even a chronic infection. Have a CBC and blood chemistry run after getting a good physical exam for her.

Serene on January 12, 2018:

Hi there,

My mutt is 7 1/2 years old and only this last week has stopped eating her food and has started drinking more. She is normal in every other aspect of her life! Happiness, eating treats, going for walks, sleeping, no pain, no whimpering. Just thirsty, won't touch her dog food and is feeling way too boney everywhere, except her belly. She eats grass in the summer and has had constipation issues before. Any ideas as to what might be her issue???

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 02, 2018:

Hi Michelle sorry I do not know of anyone up in Ontario that I can refer you to. Unfortunately that answer may be close, or it may take a lot more testing. If you feel that badly, ask for your dogs records and look for another vet (board certified in internal medicine-ACVIM). The original visit may cost more, but it may end up costing less. I with you and your Boston the best .

Michelle on January 01, 2018:

Hi. I have a 7 year old boston terrier. He has a swollen belly.. losing muscle mass as well. Sleep a lot and drinks excessively. We have had him tested for cushings... negative. Blood work shows high liver enzymes. They say no to diabeties. Now they want an ultra sound. I'm worried the vet doesn't know much. I have copies of all the blood work I was going to take him elsewhere. I just don't know what to do but all these 400 dollar tests are adding up quickly.

Vicki on October 05, 2017:

I've been getting him black walnut and a diurex he's eating a lot better but still real blodded

jake on April 10, 2017:

Dr. Mark, Thank you for the advise. I don't know if it makes any difference now. She did get blood chemistry done as well as x-ray. By the time she became blind, they did want to do an ultrasound.

Depressing and bad news, but I put her to sleep March 13th. This was one of the most devastating thing I had to do and the first dog I had to put to sleep. It would have been nice to know what was wrong with her.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 08, 2017:

Jake, the blindness with the swollen belly indicates a systemic problem. What does the blood chemistry panel show? What kind of results did you get from the CBC? If you have not done a panel yet, but have been to 3 different vets, you are wasting your time and money running around. How about x-rays? Have the vets tapped the stomach and evaluated the fluid, if any? Is she spayed?

Jake on March 08, 2017:

Took my dog to 3 different vets to see why her stomach is distended. She doesn't have cancer, does not have bloat. Her stomach has been like this going on 3 months. She still eats, drinks and goes bathroom. The ONLY problem I noticed is that she has gone blind.

Bob Bamberg on March 21, 2014:

Too many pet owners find something amusing about an overweight dog: "Boy, he's a little porker, ain't he?" They may not take a distended abdomen seriously until the dog is in serious condition. This is an informative way to remind people that a big belly isn't something to be trifled with. Voted up, useful and interesting.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 19, 2014:

That is really funny, Barbat, and I guess he would be classified as "normal variation". Some dogs are known to swallow air as they eat and drink, but that is great that you can burp him and he feels better. Is this an adult JRT? It sounds like something one of my puppies would do!

Barbat79 on March 19, 2014:

One dog of mine gets so thirsty he drinks too fast and then his belly appears to be swollen. I discovered that I needed to burp him! He even thanks me afterward! and then has room for more water, food etc. I pat the sides of his belly gently and then gently push up on the underside of his belly and out comes a huge burp...or after patting his sides, he puts his paws on my leg (positioning him in an upright or standing on two legs position) and out come the burps! Ever hear of a dog swallowing air as they drink?

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on March 19, 2014:

Here's one more thing you may want to consider if your dog's belly seems swollen but ONLY if the dog doesn't appear to be in pain. A dog may develop a belly that appears swollen, but is actually "potbellied", one of the symptoms of canine Cushing's Disease. The reason I'm aware of this is because my dog (though she doesn't have this symptom) recently had pre-op lab tests that indicated she may have Cushing's. She's currently had another set of tests the results of which were not definitive and she's scheduled for all-day blood tests March 27. (Her surgery had to be postponed.) Meanwhile I've immersed myself in veterinary-based articles about the disorder.

Other symptoms of Cushing's include: excessive thirst and urination; increased appetite; weakness of hind legs; skin and coat problems; muscle weakness and lethargy. A dog with Cushing's may not exhibit all or even most of these symptoms and those he/she has may be so subtle the pet parent only considers them a sign of aging. (Cushing's usually affects dogs that are middle-aged or older.) The "potbellied" look, combined with the increased appetite, may seem to be merely encroaching obesity.

I'm certainly not making light of the potential of bloat or any obstruction posing danger to the dog's life. Just thought I'd interject another possibility if the dog's tummy looks like the illustration at the beginning of the article., especially if it happened gradually. Of course, growth of a tumor may be gradual as well, so any change in the dog's appearance should be checked out by a veterinarian. Much better to be cautious.

However, I agree with Dr. Mark that a dog presenting with a sudden swollen belly needs to be examined by a vet asap! There's no time to delay getting the help your dog needs.

Voted Up, Useful, Interesting and shared.

Jaye

Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on March 19, 2014:

It was heart breaking, and they treated her with Baytril that gave her a seizure, and I spent a fortune on them thumping her to try to improve her lungs since they thought it was pneumonia. That was and $1800.00 bill for an overnight stay at the emergency clinic.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 19, 2014:

What a sad story, Solaras. If a dog is presented with a swollen belly, part of the workup should also be an x-ray of the chest, and if the dog has chest problems there should always be an x-ray of the abdomen. The only time the vet should not do this is if the client is unwilling to pay for the x-ray. (That happens more than you might think.)

It sounds like there was nothing to do for the tumor, but, as you point out, she could have suffered less if it was diagnosed correctly from the beginning.

Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on March 19, 2014:

Great article. When my girl had a swollen belly, they misdiagnosed her with pneumonia. I told them to x-ray her abdomen, but they ignored me at the emergency vet. It turned out to be hemangiosarcoma, and she was gone within 30 hours from noticing something was not right to being put down to end her suffering. She had a 3" diameter tumor in her heart.

Thumbs up and useful!

Brenda Thornlow from New York on March 19, 2014:

This. Is great information. Thanks so much for sharing. Voted useful!