Symptoms, Causes And Treatment of Ascites in Dogs

Ascites in dogs are an abnormal buildup of abdominal fluid, which can occur in any dog. But it is the result of an underlying disease. Therefore ignoring the symptoms can be detrimental to your dog’s health. Knowing the symptoms of ascites, what it can mean for your dog, and how it is treated. This is helpful for any pet owner.

What are Ascites?

Ascites are common in cases of organ failure or low protein levels, such as in the case of nephrotic syndrome. Fluid and blood can leak from diseased organs into the abdominal cavity, blocking blood vessels due to parasite migration, leaking into the tricuspid valve in the heart, or high blood pressure.

This fluid accumulation can cause discomfort, pain, and difficulty breathing because the fluid exerts pressure on the body parts. It is most likely to occur if the underlying condition is not treated successfully.

Ascites refer to the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, leading to dilatation of the abdomen. It is a secondary condition to a more serious problem such as heart failure, liver disease, or cancer. And should be investigated immediately to identify and treat the underlying condition.

Symptoms of Ascites in Dogs

Common symptoms of ascites in dogs include:

Abdominal dilatation due to fluid accumulation

loss of appetite

shortness of breath

abdominal discomfort

stomach pain

Because of the range of serious conditions that can cause ascites, other symptoms may be present that may indicate an underlying problem. And your vet should be informed. These may include:



loss of stamina






decreased defecation



difficulty sleeping

excessive panting

yellow or blue gums

health benefit

increased urination

increased thirst

causes of ascites in dogs

Underlying causes of ascites in dogs include:

Chronic liver failure

Congestive heart failure

Hookworm infection, especially in young dogs

Hypoalbuminemia, or low albumin levels

Kidney failure



Nephrotic syndrome


Portal hypertension

Right heart failure

Read – Cushing’s Disease In Dogs, Symptoms, Treatment, and Cost

Problems That Can Cause Ascites in Dogs

Liver Problems: Portal hypertension is a liver issue that commonly causes ascites in dogs. The free fluid caused by liver problems usually looks like water and is caused by decreased blood circulation and low protein levels in the body.

Internal bleeding: Internal bleeding can occur if an internal organ is injured. This blood can collect in the abdomen.

Bladder rupture: If the bladder cannot empty normally or there is pain, it may burst. As a result, urine can accumulate.

Peritonitis: Peritonitis is an infected abdominal lining that is inflamed. This can result in ascites.

Cancer: If cancer is causing inflammation in the lining of the stomach, then it can cause ascites. Ascites can be caused by a hemorrhagic tumor or by circulatory problems.

Heart failure: Similarly, liver problems can lead to ascites, and congestive heart failure can lead to circulatory problems and can lead to ascites. This is a common cause of ascites in dogs.

Kidney Problems: Kidney dysfunction can cause a dog to develop ascites. This is due to the protein being lost through the kidneys.

Diagnosing Ascites in Dogs

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination and may recommend taking X-rays to see this. Is there any abnormality in the abdominal cavity causing free fluid and ascites. If ascites are noted on X-rays, your vet may order blood tests, urine tests, and ultrasound to rule out the condition’s underlying cause.

A needle may be inserted into your pup’s abdomen to see if a liquid is present. If so, this fluid can be analyzed by a laboratory. So that it can be seen what kind of fluid it is, and it helps to find out where it is coming from.


Treatment of ascites depends on what caused it in the first place. Here are three types of treatment for ascites in dogs:

Surgery: Sometimes, surgery will be needed to remove the cause.

Water withdrawal: Your veterinarian can relieve the pressure by draining fluid. A procedure called abdomincentesis may need to be done regularly if the root cause of ascites is not treated with surgery, medications, and dietary changes. The fluid can usually be removed without sedation or anesthesia using a needle and syringe. But it only helps manage the symptoms of ascites and not its underlying cause.

Medication and diet: Various medications, such as special diets, and diuretics, such as the low-sodium type, will usually be used as part of ongoing treatment.

How to Prevent Ascites

It is difficult to prevent. The good thing you can do to help keep your four-leg friend healthy and prevent ascites from occurring is regular veterinary exams and blood tests to look for any abnormalities in his body. It can help detect those diseases, which can cause ascites in the early stages and can prevent fluid from building up in the abdomen.

Living and Management

Continue to monitor symptoms and give regular medications if prescribed. Also, restrict dietary salt, as it helps control fluid accumulation associated with some causes of ascites, such as liver damage, heart failure, and low protein levels in the blood.

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