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My Dog Has A Hard Belly. Should I Be Worried?

Customer Question

My dog has a hard belly and seems to be uncomfortable. She threw up clear I think. I'm thinking she may be constipated. Ate something maybe abstracted? Help! I don't have a lot of money to take her to a vet. Is there anything I can do from home? Mineral oil? tums? I don't know. She needs help I think.

Thanks Shawna

Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  miacarter replied 9 years ago.

Hello there.

I'm sorry to hear about your girl. There are a couple of things you can try at home, but I would also call your vet to discuss the situation and I would strongly recommend a visit to the vet if you don't see any improvement within the next few hours.

It's possible that she could simply be constipated, so you could try giving her two teaspoons, twice daily.

You may also want to try rubbing her stomach in a clockwise motion (if you're standing over her back). This can help move everything along. Heat can also be helpful, as it can relax the muscles. A heating pad on a low setting works well. If she's in pain and uncomfortable, she may be tensing even more, so the heat and stomach rub may really help.

If she appears to be having difficulty going to the bathroom due to constipation or a hard stool, you could try her on some canned pumpkin. Not pie filling - just plain pureed pumpkin. It can help loosen up the stool naturally. Just a few spoonfuls with your dog's meal is all you need. (Oddly, it's also effective in helping with diarrhea! )

I would also be sure that she's drinking sufficient amounts of water. Sometimes, when a dog is ill, she may not eat and drink what she should. Dehydration can also result in a firmer stool and constipation. If you suspect she's not drinking as much as she should, you can add unflavored Pedialyte to her water in a 50-50 mix, as this will help keep her better hydrated on what water she does drink.

How is she eating? If she's not eating well, or vomiting continually, I would be concerned for something more serious like an obstruction in the intestinal tract or bloat. Symptoms of a more serious problem include vomiting (especially projectile vomiting), blood in the feces or vomit, tender abdomen, bloated, hard drum-like abdomen and failure to defecate.

In any event, I'm going to give you a few things to look for on your girl, just to be sure that there's not an emergency situation taking place. But I would definitely get her to the vet for an exam if you don't see improvement soon.

Her temperature can also be checked rectally with a bit of vaseline on the thermometer - this can give you an idea of her general condition. It should be between 100-102. Anything below 100 or above 103 is a serious problem. A fever could also cause chills and shivering, so this is an important thing to check.

Checking the gums is an indicator of your dog's circulation. If there's internal bleeding, anemia, a disruption of normal blood flow, or serious illness, the gums will turn very pale, almost white in appearance. This means that the blood is not properly receiving oxygen or there's a loss of blood or red blood cells.

Normal gums will be bright pink to a pale pink. Abnormal gums are white with greyish, blue, or yellow.

Here is a link to a photo of normal gums:

Here is a link to a couple of photos of pale gums:

I should note that I've seen perfectly healthy dogs with gums that are slightly paler than those pictured in the "normal gums" picture, but there's always a distinct pink tone.

For more information on checking your dog's gums, visit:

Also, you can check capillary refill time. If you apply firm pressure to the gums, the area should turn pale and then quickly return to normal (you can try this on your own skin to see what I mean). If there's no difference, or if your dog's gums take a long time to return to normal, there could be a problem. The gums should return to normal in no less than one second and no more than two 1/2 seconds.

You should also offer some food. If she's hesitant to eat, you can offer a bland diet of plain white rice with plain chicken or boiled hamburger. This will be more appealing than her normal food, but it will also be easy on the stomach in case this is the root of her problem.

If she won't eat, you can give a spoon of pancake syrup every six hours to keep her blood sugar from dipping too low. If she won't lick it from a spoon, you can rub it directly on her gums.
Hypoglycemia triggers all sorts of other parallel problems that you'll want to avoid and pancake syrup is a good way to do that.
For more info on hypoglycemia, visit:

I would also try to get her to take in some extra fluids. You can do this by adding unflavored Pedialyte to her water in a 50-50 mix - this should help with hydration, as many pets don't drink and eat properly when they're feeling badly.

To determine how dehydrated she is, look at her skin. If you pinch the skin between her shoulder blades up into a "tent", ideally, it should flatten right out. The more dehydrated she is, the longer it will take the skin to return to normal. So I would monitor this several times a day to ensure that she's not getting worse.

Here's a good site with some home remedies for constipation, including mineral oil:

And more on obstructions, bloat, etc.:

I hope your girl is feeling better soon!

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