Home » Dog Care Tips » What Does A Normal Puppy Belly Look Like: Normal Vs Big Belly

What Does A Normal Puppy Belly Look Like: Normal Vs Big Belly

Pawscessories is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

When it comes to our puppies, we want to ensure they are as healthy as possible! That’s why we need to learn what a normal puppy belly looks like.

In this article, I will discuss what is considered a normal puppy belly, why your puppy might have a big belly, and what to do about it. I will also provide tips on keeping your puppy healthy and ensuring their stomach is in tip-top condition.

Let’s dive in.

What Does A Normal Puppy Belly Look Like

What Does A Normal Puppy Belly Look Like?

A puppy’s belly should appear smooth and soft to the touch. It should not look swollen, and their belly skin should not be super tight. Of course, after they consume food or drink water, it will appear slightly distended and tauter, but this is normal.

When you feel your dog’s stomach, it should feel squishy, and you should be able to move it around. However, if a dog’s belly ever feels stiff or is excessively distended, this could be a sign of a health issue.

In addition, as puppies grow, their bellies can sometimes appear slightly distended or bloated. Again, this is normal and nothing to worry about. 

However, suppose your puppy’s belly seems swollen all the time or is accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or loss of appetite. In that case, there may be cause for concern.

It can sometimes be tough to determine what a normal belly looks like since all dogs will have variations in their size and shape. If you’ve had your puppy for a while and their belly seems different, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian.

Is It Normal For A Puppy To Have A Big Belly?

Why Does my Puppy have a big Belly

Generally speaking, a puppy’s belly should be soft to the touch and slightly rounded. A typical puppy belly is not hard, big, or swollen. If you notice that your puppy’s belly is hard, bloated, or swollen, this could be a sign of a health problem.

However, do not mistake pudginess for a swollen belly. Often, puppies will have a bit of a chubby tummy due to all the growing they are doing. This is especially true for large breed puppies.

The puppy’s belly should be smooth, soft, and loose. It should move when you touch it. If your puppy’s tummy is tight and looks or feels like there is a visible mass to it, your puppy could be suffering from worms, bloat, or another health concern.

You will be able to tell by the way your puppy acts and how its belly looks. In addition, If you look from different angles and feel their belly, you will likely be able to see something that is not normal.

Also, if a dog just finished eating or drinking, their stomach will be slightly more distended than normal. But, again, this is not something to worry about and is perfectly normal. The same thing happens to us humans after a big meal.

If you think your dog has a big belly, let’s go over some of the reasons that can cause this.

8 Reasons Why Your Puppy Has A Big Belly

There are a few reasons a puppy can have a big belly.

Before diving into the reasons, I wanted to mention that “big” is a general term. What you might think looks big for your puppy’s belly could be expected.

So in this list, I will mention why a puppy’s belly can appear big. I will also share some ways to identify which of these reasons might be causing your puppy to have a big belly.

#1 Growing Puppy

What Does A Normal Puppy Belly Look Like

As your puppy grows, their belly will start to look bigger. This is especially true for large breed puppies. If you have a giant breed puppy, their stomach can appear distended, but it could be completely normal.

Puppies are growing, so having a big belly can be normal, and there is no need to worry if this is the case. However, if this is not why your puppy’s stomach is big, other signs and symptoms will help you identify the problem. 

If their belly feels normal and they have no symptoms indicating a problem, this is likely the reason for the big belly.

#2 Parasites

Puppies are susceptible to many different types of parasites. The most common are roundworms and hookworms. These intestinal parasites can cause a puppy’s belly to become bloated or distended.

Other parasites such as whipworms, tapeworms, and coccidia can also cause a big belly in puppies. These are all treatable with medication prescribed by your veterinarian.

Symptoms of parasites in a puppy include:

  • A big, bloated, or distended belly
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Dull coat
  • Decreased energy
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

If you think your puppy may have parasites, you should take a fresh stool sample to your vet for testing. They will be able to identify if there are any parasites present and prescribe the appropriate medication.

#3 Overeating Or Drinking

What Does A Normal Puppy Belly Look Like

Just like humans, if puppies eat too much, their stomachs will appear distended. This is not a cause for concern and is completely normal.

If you notice your puppy always has a big belly after eating, ensure you feed the appropriate amount based on weight and age. You can find this information on the food label or by asking your veterinarian.

In some cases, you might be feeding them the right amount, but they are just eating too fast. 

You can try slowing down their eating by using a puzzle toy or slow feeder. This will make them work for their food and slow down the rate at which they eat. This can also happen to puppies that drink too much water. This is more common in warmer weather or if they play a lot and are thirsty.

Again, this is not something you really need to worry about. Just make sure they are eating and drinking an appropriate amount and at a calm pace.

#4 Abdominal Hernia

An abdominal hernia is a condition where part of the intestines or other organs protrudes through a weakness in the stomach wall. This can cause the belly to appear bloated or distended. Also, when feeling the stomach, you may be able to feel a bulge or mass in the abdomen.

In addition, hernias can be caused by trauma, genetics, or congenital defects. They are more common in breeds such as Yorkies, Poodles, and Dachshunds. 

Symptoms of a Hernia in puppies include:

  • Mass in abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Decreased energy
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Difficulty breathing

If you think your puppy may have a hernia, the best thing to do is take him or her to the vet for an examination. They can tell if your puppy has a hernia and what type it is. Hernias can be treated surgically.

#5 Bloat

What Does A Normal Puppy Belly Look Like

Bloat is a condition that can be life-threatening. It occurs when the stomach twists on itself and cuts off the blood supply. This can cause the stomach to fill with gas and become distended. Bloat can occur from overeating, drinking too much water, or exercising immediately after eating.

This is why many dog care professionals will tell you not to exercise your dog for at least an hour after eating.

Bloat is most common in large dogs with deep chests, such as Great Danes, Weimaraners, and Saint Bernards. But, it can occur in any size dog. 

Symptoms of bloat include:

  • Distended abdomen
  • Hard Belly
  • Unsuccessful vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Pacing
  • Drooling
  • Pain in abdomen

#6 Fluid Build Up

Fluid build-up can occur for many different reasons. However, it is most commonly seen in senior dogs and dogs with heart conditions. This is because the heart cannot pump the blood as efficiently, which causes fluid to back up in the chest and abdomen.

However, it can happen in puppies as well. One reason might be if they have congenital heart defects. Another possibility is if they have a condition called Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). This is a birth defect where there is an abnormal connection between two major arteries near the heart. 

Other causes of fluid build-up include liver damage, ruptured bladder, or cancer.

Some symptoms of fluid build-up in a puppy’s abdomen include:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing (wheezing)
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lethargy
  • Bloated belly
  • Mouth breathing
  • Collapse/weakness

If you think your puppy might have fluid build-up, it is important to take them to the vet immediately. If left untreated, the fluid build-up can be fatal. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause but may include medication, surgery, or lifestyle changes.

#7 Cushing’s Syndrome

What Does A Normal Puppy Belly Look Like

Cushing’s syndrome is a condition that occurs when the puppy’s body produces too much of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that helps regulate many body processes such as blood sugar, metabolism, and inflammation.

Cushing’s syndrome can be caused by adrenal or pituitary gland tumors. It can also be caused by long-term use of corticosteroid medication. 

Some symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome in puppies include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Decrease energy
  • Weight gain
  • Increased drinking and urination
  • Excessive Panting
  • Thinning hair coat
  • Potbelly appearance

Cushing’s syndrome can be a serious condition if left untreated.

#8 Other Causes

There are many other possible causes of a pot belly in puppies. Some other possibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Ingesting foreign objects
  • Infections
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Intestinal blockages/obstructions
  • Pancreatitis
  • Allergies

If your puppy has a pot belly or just seems more prominent than usual, and you are not sure what the cause is, it is best to take them to the vet for an examination.

The vet can determine what is causing the big belly and recommend treatment.

How To Prevent A Puppies Belly From Bloating

You can do a few things to help prevent bloating in your puppy.

Here are some tips to help:

Train Your Puppy To Eat Slower

The first thing you can do to reduce your puppies’ bloating is to train them to eat slower. The easiest way to do this is by either hand feeding your puppy and restricting how fast they eat. You can also get a slow-feed dog bowl.

The idea behind a slow-feed dog bowl is that it will make your puppy work a little harder to get their food. This will help them eat slower and hopefully prevent bloating.

Related Reading: 7 Simple Steps To Feeding Your Puppy (#4 Is Crucial)

Control Water Intake

control water intake

Similar to controlling how fast they eat, you can also control how much water your Puppy drinks. Of course, you should always ensure your puppy is adequately hydrated. If you notice your puppy is drinking a lot of water, try to reduce their access to water for a bit.

Multiple Meals

Another way to help reduce bloating is by feeding your puppy multiple small meals throughout the day instead of one or two large meals. This will help them digest their food better and hopefully prevent bloating.

Avoid Exercise After Meals

Finally, you should try to avoid exercise directly after your puppy eats their meals. This can help prevent bloating by allowing the food time to digest before they start running around.

In addition, this is just a best practice to get used to since exercising a dog after eating could cause bloat. This is the most severe form of bloating and can be fatal if not treated quickly. It’s essentially when the dog’s stomach twists and gas gets trapped.

This is more likely to happen when dogs eat and start running around or playing immediately afterward. So, it is best to just get in the habit of not exercising your puppy right after they eat.

Ditch Food High In Fat

Another general tip to help reduce your puppy’s chances of developing a pot belly is to ditch food that is high in fat. Fat takes longer for the body to digest and can lead to weight gain and a pot belly.

Foods high in fat also increase a puppy’s chance of bloat and pancreatitis. So, next time you are considering giving your puppy a taste of your human food, think twice if it’s high in fat.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

When Should A Puppy Lose Its Belly?

What should a Puppy Belly Look Like

As your puppy grows, they will start to fill out their belly, and it will become less pronounced. This usually begins around six months of age but can vary depending on the breed. Large dog breeds typically have a longer growing period and may not reach their full adult size until one to two years of age.

What If My Puppy’s Belly Is Really Hard?

A hard or bloated stomach can signify a serious health condition, and you should take your puppy to the vet immediately. This is never a good sign and can indicate a life-threatening situation. If you feel your puppy’s belly and it is hard, do not wait to see if it goes away on its own. Get to the vet as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

Understanding what a normal puppy belly looks like is crucial for all dog owners. Knowing what to look for, you can catch health concerns early on and get your puppy the treatment they need.

A normal puppy belly should be soft and not too pronounced. However, suppose you notice your puppy’s belly is big, hard, or bloated. In that case, you should take them to the vet immediately as this could indicate a severe health condition. 

You can help prevent bloating by feeding your puppy multiple small meals throughout the day, training them to eat slower, and avoiding exercise after meals.

Following the tips in this post can help keep your puppy healthy and avoid any severe stomach issues.

Other posts you might find interesting: 

How To Train A Puppy To Sleep In A Dog Bed | 5 Simple Steps

My puppy Won’t Stop Biting Me – I’ve Tried Everything!

7 Simple Secrets To Potty Train Your Puppy Like A Pro