You may notice that over time your dog’s belly begins to sag a little bit. There are several reasons why your dog’s belly could be sagging, and not all of them are medically related. It is still a good idea to schedule an appointment with your vet to rule out any underlying causes.
Often though, like us, dogs eventually get saggy skin around our chin and belly areas. In this article, we will look at a few causes of why dogs have a saggy belly.
Why does my dog have a saggy belly?
First and foremost, some dog breeds just do. It is part of their natural appearance. This is seen in breeds that have extra skin around their jowls, neck, and body. Some of the common breeds that have a little extra skin are types of hounds; bulldogs, bullmastiffs, pugs, Dogue de Bordeaux, and of course, Shar-Peis.
If you have a breed where droopy skin is just part of its charm, more likely than not, your dog will have a saggy belly.
Your dog’s age
Your dog’s age can be a significant factor in them having a saggy belly. As they get older and begin to lose collagen in their skin it just naturally gets looser. With age, their skin becomes looser around their stomachs as well as other areas of their bodies. In certain breeds of dogs, it is more prominent than with others.
Fluctuations in weight
Like with humans, if dogs gain and then lose a significant amount of weight, their skin doesn’t just magically snap back into place. They will be left with visibly saggy bellies.
Medical reasons that can cause a saggy belly
If your dog is not a breed that is typically prone to have looser skin and you notice that your dog has a saggy belly, it’s time to visit your vet. Some medical conditions can be the root cause of a saggy belly.
Puppies that have saggy or distended bellies should be taken to the vet. Puppies are highly susceptible to getting parasites in their early weeks. If you notice that your puppy has a saggy or descended belly, you should schedule a vet appointment.
Your vet can analyze a stool sample to determine if your puppy needs to be treated for parasites.
Cushing’s disease (or hyperadrenocorticism) affects dogs’ adrenal glands. It causes them to overproduce hormones. As a result, your dog will start to lose muscle tone and fat can be more prominent in certain areas. This disease can be caused by a few different underlying conditions, such as causing adrenal gland tumors, pituitary gland tumors, or extended use of steroids over time.
Cushing’s is a serious disease, as, over time, it not only causes a saggy belly, but it can make other areas lose definition as well.
It is important to make a vet appointment as soon as possible. Your vet will run a series of tests so that they can pinpoint exactly what the root cause is.
Malignant or benign tumors can cause your dog to have a saggy belly. Tumors can displace skin and the fatty areas of your dog’s belly. Tumors may feel hard or like pockets of fat. You may notice that the areas around these have looser skin that begins to sag.
Why does my dog have a saggy belly after being spayed?
If you notice that your dog has a saggy belly after being spayed, it can be due to one of two things.
Firstly, your dog could be suffering from torn stitches. As you probably know, keeping your dog from being too active can be difficult. If your dog has just been spayed and does not have exercise restrictions, your dog can tear its stitches. This can lead to your dog developing a hernia.
A hernia is a tear in either the tissue or the muscle. They are not always a cause for concern, but they can be serious. Your vet can give you information on how to monitor it. If it is more serious, it may require another surgery to correct the hernia.
Some dogs can react to being spayed by gaining weight afterward. This is due to hormonal changes. If your dog gained a significant amount of weight after being spayed and then lost weight, you will see a residual flap of saggy skin.
Why does my dog have a saggy belly after pregnancy?
When dogs get pregnant, they go through a ton of hormonal changes. You also have to remember that to fit all those puppies, your dog is going to gain a significant amount of weight. Even after their puppies are born, that excess skin isn’t going to spring back into place like it was before they had puppies.
The hormones that your dog is going to experience also affect the mammary glands and saggy skin. If you’ve rescued an older dog that has a saggy stomach, it can often be an indicator that your dog has given birth at some point in its lifetime.
What to do about my dog’s saggy belly?
When it comes down to it, a saggy belly is something that you cannot change. While you can change their diet, exercise, and put them on medication if required.
If your dog’s saggy belly is simply due to breed type, age, or weight loss, you should just embrace the charm of your dogs’ excess skin.
If it is a medical issue, while there is no true fix for saggy skin, your vet will craft a plan to help you prevent further progression of any backend medical conditions that may cause your dog’s belly to sag.
How should a dog’s stomach feel?
You should regularly check your dog’s stomach. This is important because many medical issues that can cause changes in your stomach can be very severe if they go unaddressed. This is something that you can do yourself. If you notice something abnormal, it is time to contact your vet and make an appointment.
Using your fingers and palms, you should feel your dog’s stomach in circular motions. You want your stomach to feel smooth. Also, watch for any signs that they are experiencing discomfort or pain. Lastly, check that the lower part of your dog’s stomach is not distended (or bulging).
When you should worry is if you feel any lumps or growths. These can both be fatty or fibrous lumps of varying sizes. Be sure to make a checklist if you notice a lump. Your vet will want to know how long it has been there, if it has changed in size, and if it caused your dog pain, limited mobility, or labored breathing.
If you find a lump, you need to schedule an appointment. If your dog is in clear distress, you need to either visit an emergency vet. Otherwise, make it very clear to your regular veterinarian that upon noticing your dog’s stomach feels irregular, that your dog has exhibited clean pain or discomfort.