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Peritonitis Symptoms in Dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

Peritonitis in dogs can be life threatening and requires immediate veterinary attention. Primary peritonitis is uncommon, typically spread to the peritoneum by blood from another location. Secondary peritonitis is more common and is a result of surgery, injury or disease.

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The peritoneum is the lining of the abdominal cavity and abdominal organs.


A bacterial, fungal or viral infection of the peritoneum is called peritonitis. It occurs in humans, dogs, cats and other animals.

Primary Peritonitis

When your dog has an infection, disease, ulcers or lesions effecting organs, peritonitis can spread from original site to the peritoneum though the blood vessels. Primary peritonitis usually develops slowly and can take days or even months to show symptoms.

Secondary Peritonitis

Secondary peritonitis develops fast and spreads quickly. It is caused by bacteria, foreign objects, fecal matter and other infectious agents introduced directly through surgery, injury or trauma to the abdominal area.

Peritonitis Symptoms

Dogs with peritonitis may have the following symptoms: dehydration, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, weakness, swollen abdominal area, depression or shock. Shock symptoms include pale gums, weak pulse, fast heart rate and rapid breathing. Immediate veterinary care is necessary to prevent death.

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About the Author

Daniel Cobalt

Daniel Cobalt lives in Georgia and has been writing online for over five years. He has a technical certificate in printing from the Philadelphia Printing School. His areas of expertise include fitness, home schooling, parenting, personal relationships, small business ownership and pet topics including breeding, training and responsible ownership.

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