1. Animals with abdominal pain should be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible, particularly where this is accompanied by other signs of illness such as vomiting, inappetence, straining to urinate or defecate, pale or yellow mucus membranes, weakness or diarrhoea.
  2. If your pet has abdominal pain and a history of trauma seek immediate veterinary attention.
  3. When lifting animals with abdominal pain or swelling for transport, place your arms around and not between the legs to avoid placing any pressure on the abdomen.


Pain originating from the abdominal wall or cavity.


Signs vary depending on the underlying cause, but abdominal pain is often characterised by:

  • Vocalisation, wincing or attempts to bite when picked up or touched under the abdomen
  • Resentment of attempts to touch the abdomen
  • Restlessness, inability to sit in one position
  • Audible gut sounds
  • Obvious distension or bloating of the abdomen
  • Licking at flank

Animals with pain originating from the abdominal wall may have obvious signs such as bruising, wounds, an obvious swelling or other signs of trauma.

Abdominal pain is usually acute (sudden in onset) but may be chronic.


Abdominal pain may be due to:

  • Pain originating from the abdominal wall (for example, due to trauma)
  • Pain originating from any organ within the abdomen (the liver gallbladder, pancreas, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, adrenal glands, kidneys, bladder, prostate (male animals), ovaries or uterus (female animals), spleen or abdominal lymph nodes)
  • Pain originating from the lining of the abdomen (the peritoneum)
  • Referred pain from another body part (particularly the spine)


Veterinary care depends on the underlying cause. Aside from a physical examination, your veterinarian may perform blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound, and specific tests for particular conditions.

Exploratory abdominal surgery may be required to achieve a diagnosis and fix the problem (for example, removing a gastrointestinal foreign body or gall stones).