A painfully sore abdomen is bad news.

A suddenly sore abdomen, or acute abdomen in veterinary parlance, is a pet emergency that you can do little about yourself. It is a potentially fatal condition that needs immediate professional veterinary attention. Don't mess around with this one - it is that serious and often only surgical intervention of one sort or the other can rectify the situation!

Clinical symptoms include sudden onset of abdominal pain, drooling, retching or vomiting, crying, restlessness and laboured breathing. Abdominal pain may be indicated by the animal having its chest on the ground with its hindquarters in the air - the so called "prayer position"(more common in dogs). The abdomen is very painfull when palpated and may appear bloated.In cats with a blocked bladder you often wont see a distended abdomen but the bladder will be very enlarged and painfull when palpated.

Possible causes of an acute abdomen include:
1) Bloat (usually diet related)
2) Gastric torsion or intestinal obstruction (can be with or without a foreign body)
3) Urinary obstruction caused by stones (common in male cats)
4) Ruptured bladder (often seen after pet has been knocked down by a vehicle)
5) Acute Pancreatitis
6) Ruptured uterus (usually when pregnant)
7) Peritonitis
8) Some poisons

Without swift professional intervention, the symptoms of a sore abdomen will worsen. The pulse and breathing become erratic, the mucous membranes become pale, the animal goes into shock and death is almost certain.