Ascites in Dogs

Ascites is a medical term for an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen. If your dog has been diagnosed with ascites, it’s important to understand that this is not a disease itself but only a symptom of another underlying illness. This can include heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, infection, or cancer. Ascites may also occur in pregnant dogs or during early stages of lactation.

Ascites is a common symptom of heart failure and fluid build-up around the organs.

Ascites is a common symptom of heart failure and fluid build-up around the organs. In this condition, your dog’s belly will feel bloated, hard and tight to the touch. The swelling can impair your dog’s ability to exercise or even eat comfortably, which can lead to further complications if left untreated.

Ascites is caused by an accumulation of fluid within a body cavity (the peritoneal cavity) or outside it (pleural space). The fluid may be caused by an abnormal amount of sodium in the blood stream that causes increased pressure on the organs; other causes include liver disease or cancerous tumors that block normal drainage channels in the abdomen or chest cavity.

Other illnesses that can result in ascites include liver disease, kidney disease, cancer, or infection.

Other illnesses that can result in ascites include liver disease, kidney disease, cancer, or infection. Heart failure is another condition that may cause ascites. In this case, it is not the heart itself that fails but rather the right side of your dog’s lung. When this happens, extra fluid seeps into your dog’s body cavity and causes him to gain weight rapidly (ascites is one symptom).

Puppies are at higher risk for ascites than older dogs.

You might be wondering why puppies are more likely to develop ascites than older dogs. The answer is simple: puppies have heart disease. Puppies are at higher risk for developing heart problems because their bodies are still developing and their hearts haven’t fully matured yet.

Large dogs are also more likely to develop ascites than small ones, because large dogs require more blood flow and oxygen to maintain their body functions, which can create a strain on the heart.

There are no home treatments for ascites.

If your pet has ascites, the veterinarian will recommend a specific treatment plan that’s tailored to their needs and symptoms. However, there are some general guidelines to follow:

  • If your pet is overweight or obese, they should work with their veterinarian to lose weight.
  • They should not eat foods high in salt as it can cause additional fluid retention. Some examples of foods high in salt include canned tuna and salted nuts (such as peanuts). The exception would be if your veterinarian directs you otherwise; some dogs with heart disease need extra sodium due to the strain on their hearts caused by ascites formation.
  • It’s best not to give supplements without first checking with your vet because some supplements can make things worse instead of better.
  • If possible, try giving low-sodium food options like cooked chicken breast without skin rather than dry kibble feedings, which contain lots of sodium just like cheddar cheese does too.

Prognosis depends on the underlying illness causing the ascites.

The prognosis of a dog with ascites depends on the underlying illness causing it. If the patient’s underlying illness is treated, then his prognosis will be better. But if an underlying disease is not treated, this could lead to worsening of symptoms and even death.

When deciding on treatment options for your dog’s condition, keep in mind that there may be other issues besides just fluid accumulation in their abdomen that you need to consider as well. For example, if your dog has developed kidney failure due to long-term exposure to toxins or continued lack of blood supply (ischemia), affecting his ability to properly filter toxins out of his body via urine production (diuresis), then adding fluids back into his system through intravenous therapy might actually worsen these side effects instead of helping them get better.

There may be an association between breeding and ascites in some breeds.

In some breeds, there may be an association between breeding and ascites in some breeds. Breed-specific conditions (also called breed-specific health problems or breed-specific diseases) are health issues that occur more often in certain dog breeds than others.

Dogs with ascites need immediate veterinary care. Ascites can be caused by many serious illnesses, including heart failure, liver disease, kidney disease and cancer. It can also be a sign of infection or trauma to the abdominal organs.


Ascites in dogs may look like a spill of water in their abdomen because it accumulates under the skin of your dog’s stomach or intestines. This condition is often accompanied by weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea as well as increased thirstiness (increased frequency of drinking).

While there is no cure for ascites, your veterinarian can provide treatment to help relieve some of the symptoms and give your dog a better quality of life. Your dog may also require ongoing care with medication and diet management to help regulate the amount of fluid in his body. However, if you recognize that your pet is suffering from any type of illness or infection, you should seek immediate medical attention so that it does not become more serious than it already is.