Is Your Dog’s Stomach Hard? Here are 8 Possible Causes and Solutions

Is Your Dog's Stomach Hard? Here are 8 Possible Causes and Solutions

When dogs suddenly get a hard stomach, it can indicate torsion, bloating, or internal bleeding. In individual cases, it can also be caused by peritonitis, a roundworm infection, or even a stomach tumor.

There is usually only cause for concern here if the hardening is of a permanent nature, strange lumps are noticeable, or other pathological symptoms are expressed.

Since dogs rarely communicate pain, it is important to be able to distinguish between self-healing minor issues and serious illnesses.

For this reason, you will learn below about the 8 most common causes of a hard stomach and its typical symptoms.

1. Stomach Torsion

A torsion is often described by veterinarians as the “mother of all emergencies”. If left untreated, it can be fatal within a few hours.

Here the dog’s stomach rotates around its own longitudinal axis so that all gases are trapped in the stomach and at the same time the blood supply is blocked.

According to statistics, around one in 160 dogs will get a torsion. In addition to a hard stomach, there are usually other symptoms:

  • Strong pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Severe flatulence
  • Heavy breathing
  • Restless behavior
  • Retching without vomiting
  • Heavy drooling

It is still unclear what causes gastric torsion. According to statistics, however, large breeds and older dogs are affected much more frequently.

Surgical intervention is usually required to correct it. Here, the accumulated gas is first released and then the stomach is turned back into its original position.

The sooner you see a doctor, the better your chances of treatment and survival. If left untreated, it usually leads to an agonizing death.

2. Ascites

Dropsy causes fluid to accumulate in the abdomen due to the disease. Doctors also speak of “ascites” here. Typical symptoms of this are:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Strong thirst
  • Sudden throwing up
  • Groaning when lying down
  • Listlessness
  • Bloated and hard stomach
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Missing energy

As a rule, this pathological accumulation of water is only a sign of another underlying disease. The most common causes include:

  • Liver diseases
  • Bacterial infection
  • Stomach cancer
  • Internal bleeding
  • Bladder rupture
  • Cardiac insufficiency
  • Low blood protein levels

Since the causes of this can be very varied, it is important to see the veterinarian for a diagnosis. An ultrasound examination and a blood test are usually sufficient.

Treatment then depends on the cause. In the case of bacterial inflammation, medication is often sufficient, while an operation is necessary in the case of a tumor disease.

In dogs with ascites, fluid accumulates in the abdomen. The entire abdomen becomes larger and noticeably harder. In addition, this disease can usually be recognized by the fact that dogs groan when they lie down and have little energy.

3. Bloating

Every dog’s digestive system is different. Certain foods can therefore produce gases during digestion, which manifest themselves in flatulence.

For most dogs, slinging is the main cause. Because if the food is not pre-digested well enough, then the stomach and intestines have to put in an extra layer.

This is especially true for always-hungry breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, and Beagles. Other typical causes of flatulence are:

  • Gas-forming foods
  • Food allergies
  • Inferior dog food
  • Poisoning
  • Human leftovers
  • Diet change
  • Food intolerance
  • Dairy & Soy

The hardening of the abdomen is due to gases. So you shouldn’t feel any lumps or bumps. It’s usually only a cause for concern if the problem is permanent.

Since flatulence is usually caused by eating too quickly, such an anti-sucking bowl can help. Because he systematically ensures that dogs eat more slowly.

In addition, it helps to divide the daily feed into 3-6 smaller portions. If that is too stressful for you, then such an automatic feeder can also help you.

Flatulence in dogs is expressed, among other things, by the fact that the entire abdomen swells and becomes harder. The most common causes here include eating too quickly, a sudden change in diet, as well as intolerances and allergies.

4. Peritonitis

All organs of the dog are covered with a thin skin – the so-called “peritoneum”. When this membrane becomes inflamed, doctors also speak of “peritonitis”.

Most often, such inflammation is triggered by bacteria coming from an external wound. Other typical causes are here:

  • Liver abscesses
  • Pointed Bone Splinters
  • Gallbladder perforation
  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Swallowing toys
  • Bladder rupture

Peritonitis is usually recognized by swelling and hardening of the abdomen. Other common signs are here:

  • Listlessness
  • Sudden throwing up
  • Howl when picked up
  • Rapid breathing rate
  • Strong pain
  • Blood around stool
  • Dog refuses activity
  • Shock-like behavior

In most cases, immediate surgery is required to treat it. Antibiotics are then often used to fight the infection.

This disease is also a medical emergency that can be life-threatening if left untreated. So early action is the be-all and end-all here.

Dogs with peritonitis usually have an unusually hard abdomen and severe abdominal swelling. Among other things, such an infection can also be recognized by rapid breathing, listless behavior, and blood in the stool.

5. Cushing’s Syndrome

When danger is imminent, the dog’s body usually releases adrenaline and cortisol to make the body as efficient as possible in an emergency.

This mechanism is still essential for survival. However, Cushing’s syndrome increases the production of stress hormones, regardless of the life situation.

The stress hormone level is therefore permanently increased and the dog is constantly on the alert. It can usually be recognized by the following symptoms:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Constant hunger
  • Scattered hair loss
  • Fat belly
  • Belly gets harder
  • Restless & nervous behavior
  • Constant urge to urinate
  • Sudden tremors

In around 80% of cases, the cause is a pea-sized tumor in the pituitary gland. For treatment, this tumor is usually removed by surgery.

Depending on the cause, medication may be sufficient for treatment. In this case, the veterinarian should be consulted.

Dogs with Cushing’s syndrome usually get a spherical and hard stomach in the advanced stage. This disease can also often be recognized by hair loss on the abdomen, restless behavior, and severe hunger and thirst.

6. Internal bleeding

Various injuries can cause dogs to bleed internally, causing blood to pool in the abdomen. Typical causes are here:

  • Car Accident
  • Poisoning
  • Fight with other dogs
  • Case of increase

In addition to a hardening of the abdomen, there are usually other symptoms. This includes:

  • Black diarrhea
  • Pale gums
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Dog growls when petted
  • Feeling weak
  • Shallow breathing
  • Depressive behavior

If you suspect this, you should contact the veterinarian immediately. The doctor will search the dog visually and then carry out an ultrasound and X-ray examination.

If the blood loss is too great, an immediate blood transfusion may be necessary. The respective therapy depends on the suspected cause.

Various accidents can cause internal bleeding in dogs. Blood often collects in the abdomen, causing the abdomen to become larger and harder. In addition, there are usually other symptoms related to the injury, such as shallow breathing and blood in the stool.

7. Roundworm Infection

Roundworms are among the most common parasites in puppies and strays. It is most commonly transmitted through breast milk in puppies born to infected mothers.

Dogs can also get nematodes by eating other people’s faces or even infected mice, birds, and other small animals. Typical signs are here:

  • Persistent abdominal bloating
  • Feeling weak
  • Small white worms in stool
  • Noticeable hard stomach
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Tender belly
  • Weight Loss

For diagnosis, the vet usually examines some feces. If the infestation is severe, the worms themselves are in the stool. In the early stages, often only the eggs are recognizable.

Roundworms can usually be treated very effectively with medication. It is important to act early so that the worms do not spread further.

The recommended worming treatment usually takes place in 2-3 stages. In the first step, all living worms are killed. Then you have to remove the eggs as well.

If dogs have been infected with roundworms, this can be expressed by a swollen and hard stomach. In some cases, the worms can also be identified in the feces themselves. A wormer cure is usually sufficient for treatment.

8. Stomach tumor

Luckily, stomach cancer is one of the rarer types of cancer in dogs. According to studies, only around 0.5% of all dogs diagnosed with cancer suffer from it.

Abdominal tumors are not always malignant. Under certain circumstances, your four-legged friend can also be lucky. It can usually be recognized by the following symptoms:

  • Chronic vomiting
  • Blood in the stool
  • Bloated and hard stomach
  • Labored breathing
  • Sudden incontinence
  • Listlessness
  • Alternating between loss of appetite and cravings
  • Black and shiny chair
  • Weight Loss

To diagnose this, an X-ray and ultrasound examination is usually carried out by the veterinarian. The treatment then depends on the type and severity of the tumor.

If cancer has not yet spread and is still relatively small, it is usually surgically removed. Under certain circumstances, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also be necessary.

In dogs with a stomach tumor, a hardening can usually be felt in the abdomen. In addition, there are usually other pathological symptoms such as constant vomiting, a dark stool, and listless behavior.

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