Hemoperitoneum in Dogs


Hemoperitoneum in dogs is a life threatening situation that can be caused by either a rapid blood loss or a very slow blood loss. Your dog has a fighting chance if the blood loss from this condition is slow and gradual, but if it is rapid, it may cause your pet to go into shock or cause acute anemia.

If this situation is not immediately treated, it can take your dogs life very rapidly.

Your dog’s abdominal cavity is the largest hollow space in their body and sits between the diaphragm and the top of the pelvic cavity. It contains several vital organs such as the liver, pancreas, spleen, and kidneys; as well as the adrenal glands.

The term Hemoperitoneum is defined as blood entering this very large cavity and accumulating in this space between the inner lining and the internal abdominal organs. If there is large amount of blood accumulating, it can lead to several life threatening situations for your dog.


There are four potential causes of Hemoperitoneum in dogs; Traumatic injury, Abdominal tumors, Hematomas, and Coagulpathies. All of these potential causes can result in a large amount of blood entering into this space. Once entered, it begins to stretch the abdominal wall musculature which is your dogs system of muscles in this part of the body.

After this process starts, distension will take place, and this will cause a sudden pain and discomfort in your pet. Once this occurs, your pet will become both agitated and stressed. If this extension is rapid enough it will cause pressure to immediately build on the diaphragm and your dog will have a difficult breathing.

A rapid loss of blood also leads to both a loss of blood pressure and tissue perfusion. Tissue perfusion is where the process of the nutritive delivery of arterial blood to a capillary is passed over or through, and this can lead shock in your dog. If it continues, it can cause acute anemia. If your dog is faced with this situation and is not treated immediately, they may not survive there ordeal.

The most common of the four causes is some type of a traumatic injury that has occurred in your dog. They may have been violently hit by something such as a car or a blunt object, or worse yet, someone has kicked them causing this potentially life threatening situation. You may never know the exact cause.

The next most common cause is a tumor in your dog’s abdomen. These types of tumors can bleed very slowly and not cause a lot of damage, or they can erupt suddenly and flood this large vessel with blood.
If the blood loss is slow, your dog may reabsorb this blood from the cavity in a process called auto transfuse.

This is basically the same process that happens when bruises occur and it is the body’s natural healing ability to reabsorb the blood and the bruise disappears.

However, this is still a threat to your dog, as there is an underlying condition that caused the tumor.
The next potential cause is what is referred to as Haematomas. These are generally small localized collections of blood that actually exist in a bruise. They are small sacs of blood that your dog’s body immune systems naturally create to keep any type of internal bleeding to a minimum.

In most cases, they will dissolve on their own, but they can also burst and send blood into the cavity.

The final potential cause is from your dog’s blood not clotting properly, a condition known as Coagulopathy. This is a clotting disorder that can cause bleeding in your dog in several parts of their body. Rodent poison can instantly cause this condition as that is exactly what it is designed to do.


There are several symptoms that you will need to watch for with Hemoperitoneum in dogs. The first will a sudden weakness in your dog that may result in a collapse almost like they have suffered a heart attack. If this does happen, immediately check their abdominal area. Feel for any type of distention or protrusion.

If it feels like they are extremely bloated, they are; but it is not water, it is blood. Look very closely at their skin. If they have this condition you will be able to see several areas of bruising, which is a chilling sign that they have some type of a bleeding disorder.

But the most significant symptom will be in their gums or the inner linings of the lips. These should always be a pinkish coloration; if they are pale in color; your dog needs immediate medial attention.


Your veterinarian will have to run several blood tests as well as fluid tests to properly diagnose this condition. Once diagnosed, if it is severe enough, your dog may have to undergo a blood transfusion to replace the lost blood.

Your veterinarian may also do a belly wrap to try to ease the distension as well as oxygen therapy to help with the red blood cell count and restoring oxygen back into the blood caused by the anemia.

Vitamin K will also be administered to help with the blood clotting process in your pet. The proper blood clotting process in your dog’s immune system can correct this situation on its own unless it is severe. There have been several reported cases where a dog has collapsed but slowly regained strength on their own through this process.


Hemoperitoneum in dogs can be a slow form of bleeding or it can be a sudden rupture that places your dog in a life threatening situation. Vitamin K is essential in your dog for normal blood functions, as without it, clotting can not occur.

A normal multi-vitamin supplement given to your dog daily could very easily prevent this situation from ever occurring. If it is a trauma induced cause, this daily supplementation may save their life.

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