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First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Inflammation of the cavity containing the abdominal organs is called peritonitis. Peritonitis can be localized or diffuse. In localized peritonitis an apron of fat (called the omentum) seals off and contains the source of contamination.


Dogs with generalized peritonitis have severe abdominal pain and are reluctant to move. Vomiting is common. Pressing on the abdomen causes the dog to groan. The abdomen has a tucked-up appearance and feels rigid or board-like, owing to reflex spasms of the abdominal wall muscles.

Dehydration, infection, and shock rapidly ensue. The pulse is weak and thready, breathing is rapid and labored, and the gums are cool and pale. The capillary refill time is prolonged more than 3 seconds. Collapse and death occur in a matter of hours.


Peritonitis occurs when digestive enzymes, food, stool, bacteria, ruptured ulcers, perforations caused by gastrointestinal foreign bodies, intestinal obstructions, rupture of the uterus, rupture of the bladder, acute pancreatitis, penetrating wounds of the abdomen, and breakdown of suture lines following intestinal surgery.


Diagnosis is made by veterinary examination.


Immediate veterinary treatment is essential for survival. Intravenous fluids and broad spectrum antibiotics are given to treat dehydration and shock. Surgical exploration is needed as soon as the dog is able to tolerate general anesthesia.

After the source of the peritonitis is repaired, the peritoneal cavity is repeatedly flushed to remove all foreign material. The surgeon may decide to pack the abdominal wound open with gauze pads to facilitate drainage of the infected peritoneal fluid. An incision left open can be closed at a later date.

Localized peritonitis may respond to fluid replacement and antibiotics alone.


There is no prevention for this condition.


Seek immediate veterinary attention if you think your pet may have this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

4 Comments For "Peritonitis"



our Beagle max developed this problem and in 2 days was in agony, he seemed to pick up the day after the first bout then went down hill. it was devastating he was in so much pain we could not believe it to see him was just terrible today is the day we have an appointment at the vets to go and see him 11th August 2011 the vet said he had a good night but it all depends on the next 48-72 hours we just hope it is good news we are devastated, if your dog starts pulling his tummy up like he is straining get him to the vets fast.

August 11, 2011 at 4:05AM  Sign In or Join to Comment

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August 11, 2011 at 6:50AM  Sign In or Join to Comment



Is peritonitis a common problem in dogs?
If so, what is the % of the cases usually result in surgery?

January 27, 2012 at 1:41PM  Sign In or Join to Comment



Our Shadoodle got sick all of a sudden. She could walk but like a drunk and dragging herself. Took her to vets. Kept her for the week end and treated her for Bacteria. She did good. That night she went into heavy panting (shock). Stayed and kept her alert all night. Took her to another vet. She had got shot with an o2 pistol and the BB lodged net to the abdomen wall. She was diagnoised with peritonitis.
Vet kept her for 5 more day. Went home on Flagyl and some other meds and was doing good. She had been on them for 6 weeks. Her white blood count had dropped from 68000 to 24000.
All of a sudden she couldn't walk had a reaction to flagyl. They put her on baytril and someother meds. Got back all right. Then over night she had a fever of 104.7. The fever was around the upper and lower intestine. She is now in surgery today. They are going to drain the fluid around the abdomen and analize then if nothing do exploratory surgery. She does great sometimes as long as she is on meds. Then over night she is down. She has a will to live and I hope after all of this she makes it.

May 17, 2012 at 3:28PM  Sign In or Join to Comment



August 19, 2012 at 10:17AM  Sign In or Join to Comment