Dealing With Your Dog's Abdominal Pain
The causes of pain in the abdomen are many and varied. They may be serious or due only to a dietary indiscretion, and are often transitory in nature.
Symptoms will vary slightly according to the gravity of the condition and the location or cause of the pain. However, the following symptoms will be seen to varying degrees according to the severity of the pain.
Restlessness or moving from one spot to another every few minutes. Dogs with gastritis often try to find a cold spot to lie on and rest with their abdomen on, say, a stone floor. Salivation is often present and vomiting is quite usual. If this is recurrent, and it is suspected that a bone or other foreign object has been swallowed, contact your veterinary surgeon immediately.
Poisons. Certain irritant poisons produce acute abdominal pain and such cases should be dealt with in the way suggested. If a poison is suspected but its precise nature not known, an emetic (a lump of washing soda pushed down the throat) will empty the stomach of any left there. These cases should receive veterinary attention, as by the time the symptoms of abdominal pain are seen a fair proportion of the agent will have been absorbed from the intestines.
Food poisoning is perhaps the commonest cause of abdominal pain, especially in the young dog or the scavenger type. Dogs with a "dustbin stomach" often pick up stale or "high" food, and the resultant diarrhoea and abdominal pain is nature's way of getting rid of it and also teaching the animal a lesson! Unfortunately the lesson does not always work.
Intestinal Colic. The dog may whimper occasionally in cases of indigestion associated with attacks of colicky pain, and gentle massage of the abdomen often relieves these cases. Ordinary bicarbonate of soda (1/2 teaspoonful-1 dessertspoonful) in milk or water will also greatly assist these cases of mild colic. If the pain is severe, ½-1 teaspoonful of brandy may be added to this mixture. Local warmth, such as a covered hot water-bottle, is important in these cases, and assists in alleviating pain.
Foreign body. If there is any suspicion of the animal having swallowed a foreign body, e.g., stones, sticks, bones, needle, a ball and so on, it is as well not to give anything by mouth until he has been seen by a veterinary surgeon. Above all, do not give a purgative as this will often produce injury to the bowel wall around the foreign object, and, of course, subsequent peritonitis. If a foreign body is really suspected, the least done the better, except for keeping the patient warm and quiet. A little brandy, white of egg and water (not giving more than a total of i teaspoonful of fluid at any one time) may be given if pain is very severe or if the vomiting is very frequent.
Whelping is a time when abdominal pain is evident. Any cases of straining or of abdominal discomfort about nine weeks after the last show of colour should be regarded as suspicious. Even bitches that are said to have "never been let out" sometimes produce a litter most unexpectedly!
Constipation. The opposite to enteritis, i.e., constipation, can produce straining with little or no result. In such cases of abdominal pain it is important that the state of constipation is verified, as owners often mis-diagnose this not very common complaint in dogs.
TREATMENT AND CARE OF COMMON TROUBLES 23
Frequent straining can come from diarrhoea, and it would not be the first time that a whelping case was thought to be one of constipation.
Where the cause is definitely attributable to constipation the following is the best course to adopt: Firstly give 1 dessert-spoonful-2 tablespoonfuls of olive oil or medicinal paraffin according to the size of the dog. Make the diet as fluid, light and laxative as possible by eliminating biscuits, etc., and substituting a little All-Bran. Half the initial dose of oil should be given after the meal, and exercise should be given ½-1 hour after feeding. If no bowel action is seen within 12 hours of the initial dosing a dose of Epsom salts dissolved in a little milk should be given. A dog of 30 lb. weight should receive a level teaspoonful of the salts, and others according to size. If this has not produced a bowel action within 6-8 hours it is advisable that the animal should be given an enema (see p. 46) or be seen by a veterinary surgeon.
Injury. In cases of abdominal pain associated with a recent injury it is best to have the animal examined by a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible. Above all, give nothing by mouth, especially if there is any vomiting. Such injuries may only be severe bruising of the abdominal muscles; on the other hand, internal damage may be severe and will be aggravated by any food or liquid entering the stomach.
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