Customers with plans underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company and administered by C&F Insurance Agency, please click here to access your plan.

Abdominal Swelling

Abdominal Swelling

The stomach area is larger than normal, usually accompanied by abdominal pain. Abdominal swelling can be caused by something as innocent as eating to much, which is more common in dogs, especially larger breeds. Although a swollen stomach isn't always a life-threatening emergency, it might be, as more severe medical conditions may cause the abdominal swelling. Always go to the veterinarian when your pet has a swollen stomach. Timing is critical; a swollen stomach can be very dangerous.

How to Recognize

Abdominal swelling in dogs and abdominal swelling in cats is easily recognized. Your animal will have a pot-bellied appearance that isn't normal. People are most familiar with swelling in the abdomen of puppies; an indicator of a parasitic infection. To recognize an enlarged belly, it is important that you pay attention to your dog or cat when it is healthy. Look at your animal from the top and sides. Look closely at the stomach from these positions. If you look at your animal every day, you will notice any swelling that has occurred.

Causes of Abdominal Swelling

There are a variety of causes of abdominal swelling in dogs. Your dog may have developed pancreatitis, it may have ingested a foreign body, or it may have a tumor or mass on an organ. Your dog may also have heart disease or heartworm disease which can cause the abdomen to fill with fluid. Other causes for a swollen abdomen in dogs is overeating, bloat and intestinal parasites. Abdominal swelling in cats can be attributed to many of the same things. Cats can ingest foreign objects, they may be suffering from cancer or have a mass on an organ, or they can be in heart failure. Cats do not eat as great a quantity of food as dogs do, so a pot-belly due to over-indulging is rare. Cats may display a swollen abdomen when they have a large load of intestinal parasites.


If your dog of cat has a swollen abdomen, it is important that you take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. Swollen abdomens rarely have no cause, and the symptom can indicate a condition that could be potentially fatal. It is never a good idea to ignore a swollen abdomen in a dog or cat. When your animal sees the veterinarian, the vet will palpate your pet's abdomen. The vet may determine that radiographs are necessary to look for foreign objects, masses or tumors. Your vet may choose to perform an ultrasound study of your pet's abdomen. Do not be surprised if your veterinarian asks for your permission to run blood tests.

Similar Symptoms

There are no symptoms similar to a swollen abdomen. You may notice that your pet's abdomen swells briefly after it eats a good meal, but this type of swelling disappears quickly.

Possible Conditions

There are a variety of conditions that can cause the abdomen to swell. In dogs, pancreatitis, heartworm disease, intestinal parasites, and masses are the most common culprits. In cats, heart failure is typically seen. Deep-chested dogs are prone to bloat, or gastric torsion. This condition is life threatening when not diagnosed and treated promptly.

Treatment for Abdominal Swelling

The way your veterinarian decides to treat a swollen abdomen will depend on the cause of the swelling. In many cases, medication is prescribed. In more severe cases, hospitalization and surgery may be required. Be sure that you understand the diagnosis before you decide how you will go forward. Some causes of abdominal swelling in dogs and abdominal swelling in cats can progress quickly and turn fatal.

Pet Insurance

When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.

Get a Free Pet Insurance Quote