Signs of abdominal cramping in dogs

Updated February 21, 2017

Abdominal cramping in dogs may indicate a problem as simple as indigestion, or as serious as kidney disease. Other possible causes include bacterial infections, ulcers, pregnancy complications and pancreatitis. If your dog experiences ongoing abdominal pain, take him to see a veterinarian to discover the exact cause. Before you can determine that your dog suffers from abdominal pain in the first place, you need to understand the physical warning signs.

Arched Back

If you notice your dog walking with an arched back, this can indicate abdominal cramping. Specifically, the dog would appear to stretch the centre of its back upward, with its feet firmly tucked in. This symptom may also indicate other problems, such as neck or back soreness, so if the problem persists, contact a veterinarian to receive an exact diagnosis.

Sudden Loss of Appetite

If your active, healthy dog begins rejecting its food, the problem may point to abdominal cramping. If the loss of appetite is accompanied by an arched back, you can assume with even greater confidence that the animal suffers from abdominal cramping or pain. Only a veterinarian can find out for sure, but monitor the dog carefully. If it begins vomiting or showing signs of diarrhoea, you can more likely assume a digestive problem.

Weakness and Fatigue

If your dog suffers from abdominal cramping, you can expect to see a lethargic demeanour, slow movements and overall listlessness. The dog may lie down constantly while rarely sleeping. While the problem may work itself out in some cases, you should take your dog to a veterinarian if the fatigue persists for more than 24 hours.

Distended Abdomen

If you suspect abdominal cramping, gently place your hand over the abdomen and feel for any signs of bloating or expansion. When a dog suffers from cramps, the abdomen may feel especially firm or stretched to its capacity.


In addition to moving slowly, a dog with abdominal cramps likely will exhibit stiff movements. Joints may remain firm with every step, sometimes giving the impression of limping. As with other symptoms, stiffness may also indicate a problem unrelated to the abdomen, but if you find several of these symptoms working in conjunction with one another, begin treating the abdomen. Try depriving the dog of food for 24 hours and then feeding him bland chicken and rice until the problem subsides.

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