The overall wellbeing of a dog is determined by how healthy they are. Any minor crisis in their health will not only affect their day to day life but also that of their owner. Ascites in dogs is one such problem. This is a condition in which the dog’s abdomen becomes distended as a result of fluid buildup. The accumulation can be caused by a number of conditions; most of which are serious. Below we find out what these causes are, diagnosis of the condition, treatment, and drainage as well as how to get rid of ascites naturally.
Ascites in Dogs
What is ascites in dogs? Ascites in dogs refers to the unusual accumulation of fluid in the dog’s abdominal cavity. The severity of the condition depends on the volume of fluids retained. Where the amount is significant, it could lead to distention of the abdomen. Ascites results from leakage of fluid from blood vessels, internal organs, abdominal masses and lymphatics into the abdomen. There are numerous conditions that could result in this as discussed later on in this post.
Symptoms of Ascites in Dogs
Abdominal fluid buildup main symptom is a visibly distended stomach in your dog. The affected dog will also exhibit additional signs most of which will be associated with the underlying cause of ascites in dogs. These symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite
- Breathing difficulties
- Intolerance to exercise
- A cough
- Abdominal discomfort
- Weight gain
- Groaning sounds when lying down
Ascites in Dogs Causes
Most of the causes of this condition are serious and require to be dealt with immediately to prevent them from developing into chronic illnesses. They are as discussed below.
This refers to the decline of albumin levels in the dog. Although albumin is derived from the diet a dog indulges in, it also is produced by the liver. To maintain the concentration of albumin in the plasma, the kidney works to prevent its excretion in urine.
Additionally, the gastrointestinal system ought to function properly so as to ensure efficient absorption. Albumin helps to regulate the exchange of water between cell spaces and plasma. In case there is a decline, it results in blood leaking out of the blood vessels resulting in ascites.
When there is an obstruction in the abdomen, it could result in fluid leaking from the veins and lymphatics and into the abdominal cavity.
In cases of right-sided heart failures, the heart is not in a position to handle the flow of blood from the liver. As a result, there is an obstruction of blood flowing from the liver into the heart. This could result in chronic ascites.
Another form of obstruction that could see your dog suffering ascites is the presence of abdominal masses. These could be cysts, abscesses or tumors. When any masses obstruct or compress abdominal vessels, it could result in a slow buildup of fluids in the abdomen. Additionally, in case these obstructions rupture, they could cause acute ascites.
When internal organs get subjected to trauma, it is likely to cause leakage of fluids. A rupture in the gallbladder will leak bile, while a spleen rupture will leak blood. In cases where the same happens along the urinary tract, it could lead to leakage of urine. All these may lead to accumulation of fluids in the abdomen with time.
This refers to inflammation in the abdomen’s inner lining. Depending on the severity, the affected lining will produce fluids of varying amount. The condition can be caused by acute pancreatitis, perforation in the bowels as well as anything that compromises the abdominal area’s internal organs.
Other disorders that could cause ascites in dogs to include the following:
- Bleeding disorders
- Ruptured lymphatics
- Chronic liver failure
- Hookworm infection
- Portal hypertension
- Congestive heart failure
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Abnormally low protein
An ascetic fluid evaluation is necessary to diagnose ascites. The procedure involves removal of the abdominal fluid. This is then tested for the protein makeup, bacterial presence, and blood. Once ascites is confirmed, additional tests may be carried out to ascertain the cause. These include tests and procedures aimed at identifying specific malfunctions in internal organs. They are as discussed.
- An echocardiogram where heart disease is suspected
- Abdominal ultrasound to examine abdominal organs. This helps to visualize masses, evaluate the kidney, spleen, liver and the pancreas. If necessary and based on what is seen in the images, a biopsy may be conducted.
- To assess the bowel, an endoscopy will be done. This helps to evaluate the inner lining of the duodenum and stomach.
- For ascites in dogs with liver disease, a bile acid measurement test may be done too.
- Urine analysis will be done to assess kidney function.
- To check for pancreatic inflammation, a serum lipase measurements test can be done to check for any elevation.
The extent of diagnostic procedures carried out will be guided by symptoms exhibited by the dog. Your veterinarian will be in a position to advise on the same.
Ascites in Dogs Treatment
The treatment method for ascites in dogs is largely determined by the cause. As such, there is no single treatment suitable for all cases of abdominal retention. Some of the treatment options available include:
Dietary changes to Manage Ascites in Dogs
To manage ascites in dogs, the intake of dietary sodium has to be limited. This is normally used together with the intake of diuretics to help eliminate the fluids.
In most cases, the drugs prescribed will not only be an aid to excretion of excess water from the abdomen but to treat the underlying cause too. Diuretics are quite a common prescription in this condition and their dosage depends on the individual dog.
This involves drainage of the fluid and is suitable in situations where a change in diet and the use of diuretics cannot help.
In cases where the cause of ascites cannot be treated using aggressive medication, it may be necessary for your dog to undergo surgery. Liver transplants may be necessary where the dog has suffered
How to Treat Ascites Naturally
Are you wondering how to treat ascites naturally? As discussed above, some of the conditions resulting in ascites in dogs are quite serious. As such, it can be hard to treat the condition at home. However, by concentrating on a friendly diet, it is possible to minimize accumulation of the fluid within the abdomen.
Additionally and if necessary, your veterinarian could advise on how to drain the fluid from the abdomen. This way the dog will get rid of the water it has retained and you can concentrate on preventing recurrence of the same.
Like with any other condition, always remember to call your veterinarian whenever in doubt. Also important to note is that any health condition is best dealt with as soon as it is identified.