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Abdominal pain in dogs

Pitbull dog under a blanket advice

A shivering or shaking dog may be one in pain.

© Shutterstock

Is your dog shaking? Or its stomach is hard? Or swollen? These are all signs that your dog may have stomach pains and will need to see the vet.

By Dr Holly Graham BVMedSci BVMBVS MRCVS

Updated on the 11/08/2020, 13:41

Stomach pain is a sign that your dog needs to see a vet urgently. There are many different causes of stomach pain and, while a vet may be able to give you a rough diagnosis of what could be causing it, often dogs need more testing to decide the cause.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

My dog has stomach pain when touched

Signs of stomach pain include: yelping or whining; wincing or flinching when touched; shaking or shivering; abdomen guarding – tensing and tucking their stomach up when touched; snapping/growling or biting.

If you are concerned that your dog may have a sore abdomen, it’s essential that you consult a vet, as lots of conditions can be serious. Conditions that may cause stomach pain include: gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract, peritonitis or gastric dilatation volvulus (a twisted stomach). While some of these problems are uncommon and much less likely, they are considered emergencies.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

My dog has stomach pain and is shaking

Dogs may shake for a number of reasons. However, if they appear to be shivering or shaking, this can be a sign of pain. Most dogs do not express pain vocally like humans, so may be quieter than normal and may be sat away from their owners, shaking. If you think your dog may be in pain, consult a vet as soon as you can.

My dog's stomach is hard but with no pain

A distended abdomen can be caused by a multitude of different problems, and can be a sign that something is wrong with your dog’s health. While this may be nothing to worry about, it’s always something that needs to be checked out. If your dog’s stomach is hard and painful, they need to be seen by a vet as soon as possible.

Problems such as tumours, heart disease and hormonal disorders can make your dog’s abdomen look more rounded and can make it feel firmer than normal. Usually these conditions aren’t painful, and require blood tests and x-rays or ultrasounds to help diagnose the problem. Dogs are very good at hiding pain, and while they may not appear painful to us, sometimes tensing their abdomen and making it more firm could be a sign of pain.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

My dog's stomach is swollen but with no pain

Lots of different diseases can cause your dog’s stomach to look swollen. If your dog’s stomach looks different to normal, please seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. If your dog’s stomach looks swollen or bloated, and is painful you must speak to a vet as an emergency. Your dog’s abdomen may look bigger for a number of reasons. Hormonal disturbances such as Cushing’s or diabetes give pets a ‘pot bellied’ appearance, and can make their stomach look more rounded and lower than before.

Cardiac problems cause fluid to build up in the abdominal area, giving a similar look. Large tumours are something else to consider. If your dog is female and isn’t neutered, a condition called pyometra – or an infection of the uterus – must also be considered. Unfortunately, getting to the bottom of the problem requires further testing by a vet.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

Why is my dog having stomach spasms?

In most cases stomach spasms won’t be visible in your dog’s muscle. Signs of a stomach spasm may include: trembling, whining or shaking; lethargy; pacing or being unable to settle; abnormal posturing – raising their hind quarters higher in a praying position, or guarding their abdomen by lifting it higher; vomiting or diarrhoea; a swollen abdomen – this may be firm or bloated in appearance; heavier or faster breathing; a gurgling sound coming from their abdomen.

If you are concerned your dog has any of these symptoms, please consult a vet as soon as possible. While some conditions may be minor, other causes of these signs may require emergency treatment.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

Is there a home remedy for a dog's bloated stomach?

Unfortunately, there are no recommended home remedies for a bloated stomach, as this is always something that requires veterinary attention. While some conditions causing a bloated stomach may not be serious, others are an emergency and if left untreated can be fatal.

My dog's stomach is hard but not bloated

A hard stomach may be a sign of pain. If a dog has a sore stomach, they often tense the muscles to protect their internal organs. Abdomen guarding is nearly always a sign of pain and should be checked by a vet.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

What can I give my dog for abdominal pain?

Treatment should not be attempted until a vet has established the cause of the abdominal pain – so no treatment should be attempted at home. All causes of abdominal pain require different treatment, and sometimes that can even be surgery. Human medications should not be given to your animal, and your pet may require prescription medication that is only available from a vet. Please consult a veterinarian, before giving any medication to your dog.

Why is my dog’s stomach cramping?

It may be cramping for a number of reasons, and it is important to work out the cause of this. Signs of cramping are usually related to pain, but this requires investigation. As there are so many different problems that can cause this, it’s best to get checked over with the vet.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

How can I help my dog with gas pains?

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do at home to help with what could be gas pains. A build up of gas or signs of abdominal cramping need to be checked by a vet. Until the cause has been determined, it isn’t safe to give dogs showing abdominal pain any medication – as lots of commonly used drugs can make the problems worse. While gas pains could be the start of a simple gastroenteritis, they could also be the signs of a life-threatening stomach torsion (or GDV), so consult a vet, if you have any concerns.

What home remedy can I give my dog with gas?

There are no home remedies that are recommended. Remedies that may be found online may be ineffective at best, but could also be harmful to your dog. If left untreated, conditions causing gas or abdominal pain can be fatal. Please consult a vet, before giving your dog anything.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

Can I give my dog Tums for gas?

Never give your dog any treatment without seeing a vet. Treatments that aren’t designed for animals can be dangerous, or can affect what a vet may need to use.

Can I give my dog Pepto-Bismal for gas?

Human medications are often not safe for animals, and you should never attempt to treat your pet at home. Please see a vet, if you have any concerns, as problems can get worse or become fatal if left untreated.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

When should I see a vet?

Abdominal pain, bloating or a swollen abdomen are all signs that your pet needs to see a vet as soon as they can. If you notice any changes in the look of your pet's stomach, or if they seem painful – book an appointment for a check over. Remember that your pet may not cry when they are uncomfortable, and may instead be quiet and shaking. Describe your dog’s symptoms on the phone to a vet, as some conditions can be an emergency and may require urgent treatment.