Why Does My Puppy Have A Big Belly? 5 Reasons & Symptoms

Welcoming a new puppy into your home is an exhilarating experience, but it also comes with a fair share of responsibilities, including monitoring their health.

One common concern that may arise is the appearance of a big stomach in your furry companion. So, why does my puppy have a big belly?

While a plump, round tummy can be irresistibly adorable, it’s crucial to understand that it may indicate various underlying factors, some benign and others potentially serious.

Let’s delve into the reasons why your puppy might have a big belly, ranging from overindulgence in treats to medical conditions.

Why Does My Puppy Have A Big Belly?

why does my puppy have a big belly

Your puppy may have a big belly for several reasons, including overfeeding, having parasites, bloating, abdominal hernia, or fluid buildup.

These are the most common causes, but there are other silent culprits behind this issue. So it’s best to have a thorough check-up at your vet.

Learn more about them below.


One of the most common culprits behind a puppy with pot belly is intestinal worms, such as roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms.

These parasites can infest a puppy’s gastrointestinal tract, where they consume nutrients meant for the puppy, leading to malnutrition and stunted growth.

The accumulation of these worms can force the puppy’s abdomen to swell, resulting in a pot-bellied appearance.

Moreover, some parasites can create inflammation or blockages within the digestive system, exacerbating abdominal distension.


Why is my puppy’s belly so big? Overfeeding is another common factor contributing to puppies developing a distended belly.

This occurs when well-intentioned pet owners provide their furry companions with an excess of food, often unaware of the adverse consequences it can have on their growing bodies.

Puppies have smaller stomachs and higher metabolisms compared to adult dogs, making them more susceptible to overindulgence.

When puppies consume more calories than their bodies can utilize for growth and energy, the excess gets stored as fat, ending up with a visibly enlarged belly.


Bloating, scientifically known as gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) or twisted stomach, occurs when a puppy’s stomach fills with gas and twists upon itself, sparking a rapid expansion of the abdomen.

This can stem from a variety of reasons, such as eating too quickly, consuming large meals, or moving strenuously right after eating.

Bloating is a critical concern as it can entail a potentially life-threatening condition where blood flow to the stomach is compromised, leading to tissue damage and systemic shock.

Signs of bloating in puppies may include a visibly swollen abdomen, restlessness, and unproductive vomiting.

Abdominal Hernia

This condition, known as an inguinal or umbilical hernia, happens when there is a weakness or gap in the abdominal wall through which abdominal organs or fatty tissues protrude, giving rise to a noticeable bulge.

In the case of an umbilical hernia, the protrusion typically occurs near the navel. Meanwhile, an inguinal hernia involves the groin area.

These hernias can be congenital, meaning the puppy is born with them, or they can develop due to injury or strain.

At the same time, small hernias may not always pose an immediate threat. 

They can be followed by complications such as intestinal obstruction or strangulation, which can be life-threatening.

Fluid Buildup

Why do puppies have big bellies? Fluid buildup, or ascites, happens when excessive fluid accumulates in the abdominal cavity, resulting in abdominal distention.

Several underlying factors can contribute to fluid buildup, including heart disease, liver problems, kidney dysfunction, infections, or abdominal trauma.

In puppies, congenital heart defects can also cause fluid retention and a swollen belly.

Suppose you see the signs of ascites, such as a rounded and tense abdomen; consulting a vet is the go-to move.

Symptoms Of Abnormal-Looking Belly On Pups

Symptoms Of Abnormal-Looking Belly On Pups

Symptoms of an abnormal-looking stomach in puppies may include visible distention or swelling of the abdomen, tenderness or discomfort when touched, changes in appetite, coughing, or even difficulty breathing. Let’s dive deeper into each sign.

Visible Abnormality

When your furry companion’s belly appears to have bruises, becomes swollen, bloated, or takes on an irregular shape, it’s a clear signal that something may be amiss.

This noticeable change in appearance can be attributed to various underlying causes, such as digestive problems, organ enlargement, or the presence of a foreign object in the digestive tract.

Show Discomfort When Touch

Puppies have playful and affectionate personalities and often enjoy being petted or cuddled.

However, when there’s something wrong with their abdominal region, they may exhibit signs of pain or discomfort.

This can manifest as whimpering, growling, or even attempts to avoid any contact with their belly. The puppy’s reaction serves as a clear signal that something isn’t quite right.

Difficult Breathing

Difficult breathing is a concerning symptom often associated with an abnormal-looking belly in puppies.

When a puppy’s stomach is distended or swollen due to an underlying issue, it can exert pressure on the diaphragm or chest cavity.

This pressure can make it challenging for them to breathe properly, leading to labored breathing or increased respiratory distress.

Also, suppose you notice your dog’s wheezing when breathing; check out this guide to learn why and what to do.


The presence of an abnormal belly can sometimes give rise to respiratory or gastrointestinal issues that trigger coughing as a response.

This coughing can vary in intensity and frequency, and it often signifies that there may be excess pressure on the chest or diaphragm due to unusual belly appearance.

Lose Appetite

Puppies are enthusiastic eaters, and any sudden decline in their appetite can be a clear pointer that something can go wrong.

An abnormal belly can be a source of discomfort, pain, or digestive issues. All of which explain the loss of interest in food.

What Does The Belly Of A Normal Puppy Look Like?

The abdomen of a normal, healthy puppy is often soft to the touch, with a slight roundness that mirrors its overall body shape.

When gently pressing on the tummy, there should be no signs of pain or discomfort.

The skin on the abdomen should also feel warm and smooth, without any noticeable lumps, bumps, or abnormalities.

Moreover, the belly must not appear distended or overly swollen.

While some variation of the size and shape of the stomach can occur, it should generally be in proportion to the animal’s age, size, and breed.

How To Treat A Puppy With Big Belly

How To Treat A Puppy With Big Belly

Treating a small pup with a big belly involves identifying and addressing the underlying cause.

Here is what you need to do: perform a stool test, consult a veterinarian, deworm the animal, and adjust its diet.

Do A Stool Test

The first step is to do a stool test. Collect a fresh stool sample and take it to your trusted veterinarian.

They will examine it for the presence of intestinal parasites like worms, which are a common cause of bloated bellies in puppies.

Ask A Vet

Consulting a vet is a must when dealing with any health problems. They can perform a thorough physical examination, including palpating the abdomen.

They may also order additional tests like blood work to find other potential causes.

From there, your vet will provide a definitive diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment based on the findings.

Deworm The Pup

If intestinal parasites are detected, your veterinarian will prescribe deworming medication tailored to your puppy’s needs.

The treatment often involves a series of deworming doses to ensure all parasites are eliminated.

This procedure is vital not only for reducing the size of the bloated belly but also for your pup’s overall health.

Change Diet

Dietary adjustments are necessary to alleviate a big belly in a small pup.

Transitioning to a more balanced and portion-controlled diet can help regulate the pet’s weight and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will A Dog With Bloat Still Want To Eat?

It depends. In some cases, a dog may still show interest in food, but it’s not common.

Typically, they lose their appetite and may appear distressed, signifying a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention.

How Should A Puppy Belly Feel?

A pup’s belly should feel soft and slightly pounded. It should not be overly distended or hard.

A healthy tummy must have a normal, relaxed appearance, with no signs of discomfort or pain when touched.

Any unusual or painful changes in the belly need to be promptly examined.

How Often Do Puppies Need Deworming?

A common schedule is every 2 to 3 weeks from the age of 2 weeks until about 3 months old. Afterward, you may deworm the animal monthly until six months of age.

Check with your vet! They will provide a tailored plan based on your pet’s specific needs and risk factors.

The Bottom Line

Why does my puppy have a big belly? A big belly in your puppy can be attributed to a variety of factors, from overfeeding to potentially life-threatening conditions like hernias or bloating.

Vigilance and responsible pet ownership are key.

Regular check-ups with a vet, a balanced diet, and adhering to recommended feeding guidelines will go a long way in keeping your puppy healthy and ensuring their tummy remains in tip-top shape.

Remember, if you ever have any concerns about your pet’s health or belly’s appearance, do not hesitate to consult with a veterinary professional.


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

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