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Doc Sara
Doc Sara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 952
Experience:  I am a dog and cat veterinarian with a lifetime of experience in our family veterinary hospital.
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My dog is in sever abdominal pain. Yelps when touched on

Customer Question

My dog is in sever abdominal pain. Yelps when touched on tummy, won't get up or move, when made to he yelps with every single step. Shaking and increased heart rate, breathing hard when pain is at worst. Gurgling in stomach. Stomach doesn't seem to be swollen, maybe tight in some areas. Hard to tell because he is protecting that area and won't budge or move. So only have access to limited areas of stomach. Yesterday he had a hard time swallowing it seemed like.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 2 years ago.

Hi there - I'm Dr. Sara. Thanks for sending in your question - I'm sorry that your pup isn't feeling well. I know that it can be frustrating and scary.

When dogs have severe abdominal pain combined with possibly vomiting or unproductive retching (like they're trying to vomit but nothing is coming out), then our biggest concern in for a condition called GDV (gastric dilation volvulus) or "bloat". Bloat is an absolutely life threatening emergency. In the early stages they can have severe pain but no obvious abdominal distention, so even though you're not seeing a big belly, this could still be bloat.

Another thing that I see quite frequently that can be very painful but isn't as life threatening is back pain. Sometimes, for no reason we can pinpoint as owners or vets, dogs can develop severe back pain. (think about the last time you "threw your back out" or woke up feeling sore or painful). When your back is sore, it hurts to do pretty much anything, so in dogs this can manifest as you've described with a reluctance to move or vocalizing when being touched. Dogs tighten their abdominal muscles to help stabilize and protect the painful back, so often their bellies will feel hard or even look distended and they'll react to you touching their belly because they're afraid it'll make their back hurt. In some cases pets with back issues will also show weakness or stumbling in the back legs or all four legs.

A physical exam and an X-ray can usually readily differentiate the two conditions, or potentially uncover something new or different. I would suggest calling your vet ASAP and having him seen so that he can be checked for bloat. Untreated, bloat is fatal. Treatment for bloat usually involves surgery to untwist the stomach and tack it in its original normal place. Treatment for back pain usually consists of pain medications, rest, and anti-inflammatories.

Please keep in mind that I'm giving you my educated guess based on your description - the best way to sort out what is going on is to have him examined in person

Please let me know if you have any other questions for me.

~Dr. Sara

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He has hip dysplasia and is not being treated... This is my mother's dog. I've been trying to figure out what is going on. After you mentioned the back pain I rubbed firmly down his whole neck and spine and got no response, not even a twitch, but when I got to his back legs around his hip he jumped in pain and yelped turning his mouth toward me in a snapping was (as to say stop) he's a very sweet dog.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
But like I said, he also has gurgling sounds coming from his stomach that can be heard clear across the room. He just won't move... It seems like he's guarding his stomach more than his hips because he didn't budge earlier when I pulled on and rotated slightly on his opposite back leg.
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for the update and reply!

I'm glad that his back doesn't seem to be painful. If he is usually a very sweet dog and he has offered to bite you in response to your probing, this does suggest that he is in a lot of pain. Hip dysplasia can be very painful and I have seen some dogs with bad hips slip and fall, causing themselves a great amount of pain when they go splay legged (like bambi slipping on the ice).

The stomach symptoms combined with severe pain are very worrisome to me. I wish that I could be of more help, but the only way to really get to the bottom of what is happening is to have him examined in person by a vet. We are unfortunately very limited in what we can accomplish online. Given that bloat is a possibility and it can be deadly, I have to urge you to get him examined as soon as possible.

Please keep me update on how he is doing and let me know if I can help

~Dr. Sara

Expert:  Doc Sara replied 2 years ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Doc Sara