A closer look: Bloating (Abdominal Distension) in Dogs
Abdominal distension is a common symptom as it is often associated with a large number of conditions. Many causes of abdominal distension are life-threatening and require immediate intervention. In these cases, other symptoms are usually present alongside the distension including pain, blood in excretions, seizures, and lameness.
It is best to seek rapid care to determine the underlying cause.
There is a large range of conditions associated with abdominal distension. The accumulation of blood, other fluids, or air in the abdominal space may produce abdominal distension. The characterization of the bloating suggests the underlying disease process.
In addition to fluid and air accumulating in the peritoneal space, abdominal distension may be due to physiological changes or enlargement of organs.
Finally, some forms of hernias also cause abdominal distension. These are caused by weakness, perforation, or congenital defects in the abdominal wall muscles.
Abdominal distension can vary in severity based on a wide range of factors, including the extent of distension, whether it is acute or chronic, intermittent or persistent, localized or generalized, and progressive or stable. Regardless, with the exception of confirmed obesity or pregnancy, it is a serious and concerning symptom that requires immediate attention.
Testing and diagnosis
After a physical examination and medical history, a number of tests can be done to determine the underlying cause of the distension:
- Medical imaging (X-rays, ultrasounds)
Treatment varies depending on the condition causing the distension but can include:
- Drainage of the fluid
- Medication (diuretics)
- Symptom management
Increased fat accumulation around the midsection due to weight gain is similar to abdominal distension. Weight gain may or may not have a medical root cause, as many cases are related to overfeeding relative to activity levels.
Other symptoms that appear in conjunction with abdominal distension are dependent on the underlying condition.