Of the top of your head, can you list three or more potential causes of a swollen abdomen in dogs? How about if the dog is a puppy?
Tilly was a happy, active puppy. Nothing was obviously wrong with her except her pot belly. Maybe she was eating a bit too much? Maybe that’s how a puppy ought to look? Because Tilly seemed perfectly healthy, her mom decided to wait and ask about it at Tilly’s vaccination appointment.
Tilly did not vomit, she didn’t have diarrhea and had a healthy appetite. In the absence of any other signs of illness, Tilly’s mom didn’t see a reason to rush to a clinic right away.
A puppy that is acting sick is always an emergency. But what about a normal puppy with a big belly?
At the veterinarian
The most common cause of a swollen belly in puppies are roundworms. Puppies can acquire the infection from their mother. If the mother has been infected as a puppy, some of the worm larvae can make their way into the blood. From there they travel into body tissues where they settle in the form of cysts.
If the female later becomes pregnant, it activates the larvae. They leave the cysts and move back into the bloodstream. They can then infect the unborn puppies.
That’s why puppies are routinely dewormed several times until they are twelve weeks old.
Symptoms of a roundworm infection
Potbellied appearance is the most common sign of roundworms. The sooner you pick up on that and take your puppy to a vet, the better.
The most obvious problem with a roundworm infection is that they steal the food as it passes through the intestine. Puppies need nutrients. A roundworm infection can lead to signs such as:
- reduced growth
- weight loss
- dull coat
- mucus in the stool
Unlike some other intestinal parasites, roundworms are visible to a plain eye and you can observe the spaghetti-like worms in your dog’s poop.
Roundworm infection complications
A massive infestation can become life-threatening. It can also lead to intestinal damage, obstruction, and even rupture.
How did Tilly do?
Tilly’s infestation was caught early. She was deformed and a week later her belly looked the way it should.
Testing for Abdominal Enlargement in Dogs