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Hemoabdomen in Dogs (Internal Abdominal Bleeding)

What Is Hemoabdomen in Dogs?

Hemoabdomen in dogs refers to internal bleeding within the abdominal cavity. This type of bleeding occurs inside the body and can be quite concerning. The abdomen, encompassing organs like the liver, spleen, stomach, and intestines, is the primary site where blood accumulates. However, blood can also gather in other areas such as the chest cavity, known as hemothorax.

Discovering hemoabdomen typically involves a veterinarian’s physical examination and diagnostic tests. While the bleeding itself may not be visible, there are observable signs that may indicate its presence. These signs, along with the underlying causes and treatment options, are crucial for understanding and addressing this condition quickly and effectively to ensure the best possible outcome for your dog.


The symptoms of hemoabdomen in dogs closely resemble those of external bleeding. This similarity arises because whether the blood remains inside the body or exits externally, it still compromises the cardiovascular system’s functionality. If your dog is experiencing hemoabdomen, you may observe:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Mental dullness
  • Changes in mucous membrane coloration (pale, blue, muddy, or unusually pink or red)
  • Coolness of the skin, typically noticeable around the ears, feet, and tail
  • A distended abdomen, though this might not always be apparent

It’s crucial to promptly consult a veterinarian if your dog exhibits any of these symptoms. If necessary, contact an after-hours emergency clinic. Veterinarians typically recommend immediate evaluation since these signs are commonly associated with potentially life-threatening conditions, regardless of whether your dog has a history of internal bleeding. A dog’s condition can deteriorate rapidly in cases of significant blood loss.


Several factors can lead to hemoabdomen in dogs, categorically falling into four main groups:


Internal bleeding in the abdomen can result from traumatic injuries. While some wounds, like penetrative injuries from impalements, gunshots, or bites, are evident upon occurrence, others may not exhibit obvious external signs. Blunt-force trauma, such as falls, impacts, or collisions with vehicles, can also induce severe internal bleeding without conspicuous external injuries.

Abdominal Tumors

Tumors affecting abdominal organs like the spleen or liver, whether benign or malignant, have the potential to disrupt blood vessels and trigger internal bleeding. Hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer commonly involving the spleen, is a frequent non-traumatic cause of hemoabdomen in dogs. However, definitive identification of hemangiosarcoma or other treatable tumor types typically requires surgical intervention and histopathological examination.

Post-Operative Bleeding

Following abdominal surgery, reopened blood vessels may result in post-operative bleeding. The emergence of hemoabdomen-related symptoms following surgery suggests significant blood loss, necessitating immediate attention.

Coagulation Disorders

Abnormalities in the blood coagulation system can lead to bleeding in dogs. Common causes include poisoning from anticoagulant rodenticides, immune disorders, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), liver disease, and disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), a condition that may develop secondary to infections, inflammation, or cancer. Coagulation disorders have the potential to cause bleeding at various sites throughout the body, demanding prompt treatment.


When a dog presents with symptoms of internal bleeding at the veterinary clinic, the veterinarian promptly assesses the situation. For dogs in critical condition, immediate interventions such as intravenous (IV) fluids, transfusions, and oxygen therapy may be necessary before identifying the underlying cause.

Simultaneously, the veterinarian gathers information about the dog’s health history, including symptoms observed at home, their onset and progression, and any potential injuries or exposure to toxins.

Once the dog stabilizes, diagnostic testing commences, which may entail:

  • Complete blood cell count: This test evaluates red blood cell and platelet levels, crucial for blood clotting, and screens for signs of infection or inflammation.
  • Blood chemistry panel: Measuring electrolyte and protein levels in the blood helps assess organ function.
  • Urinalysis: Further examination of kidney function and detection of infections or blood loss.
  • Blood clotting times: Assessing coagulation disorders.
  • X-rays of the abdomen and chest: These imaging studies help identify signs of bleeding and cancer.
  • Abdominal ultrasound: Confirms the presence of blood or other fluids and detects tumors.
  • Examination of abdominal fluid samples: Provides additional insight into the condition.

These diagnostic procedures aid veterinarians in accurately diagnosing hemoabdomen and determining appropriate treatment strategies.


Treatment for hemoabdomen varies depending on the underlying cause:

  • Trauma:

Minor injuries causing abdominal bleeding may heal with medical management, including fluid therapy, transfusions, medications to promote blood clotting, and supportive care like belly wraps. However, severe injuries often necessitate surgical intervention to halt bleeding and repair or remove damaged tissues.

  • Abdominal tumors:

Benign tumors can typically be successfully removed via surgery. However, hemangiosarcoma poses a significant challenge, with only about half of diagnosed dogs surviving longer than six months even with surgery and chemotherapy. While definitive identification of tumor type is typically not possible before surgery, veterinarians can discuss prognosis based on their examination and diagnostic findings.

  • Post-operative bleeding:

Mild cases may be managed with belly wraps, fluid therapy, medications to aid blood clotting, and supportive care. However, significant blood loss often requires surgical closure of bleeding vessels.

  • Coagulation disorders:

Dogs poisoned by anticoagulant rodenticides typically recover with treatment using prescription vitamin K medications. Immune-mediated diseases may require management with immunosuppressive drugs, along with addressing underlying health issues like infections. Supportive care, including transfusions, may also be necessary.

Tailored treatment plans, based on the specific circumstances of each case, are crucial for effectively managing hemoabdomen in dogs.

Living and Management

After experiencing hemoabdomen, dogs require vigilant monitoring during their recovery phase. It’s essential to adhere to the veterinarian’s guidance regarding home care and scheduling future check-ups. If you observe any recurrence or worsening of internal bleeding symptoms instead of improvement, promptly contact your veterinarian for immediate attention. Consistent follow-up and observation are key to ensuring the well-being of your dog post-hemoabdomen.

Hemoabdomen in Dogs FAQs

Can masses lead to internal bleeding in dogs?

Yes, both benign and malignant masses have the potential to cause internal bleeding in dogs. Diagnostic testing is necessary to ascertain the type of mass involved. In some cases, surgical removal of the mass (or as much as possible) followed by biopsy sampling for identification may be the best course of action.

Are certain dogs more susceptible to hemoabdomen?

While any dog can develop hemoabdomen, certain causes may be more prevalent in specific breeds. For instance, hemangiosarcoma of the spleen is frequently diagnosed in older, large-breed dogs such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers.

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