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What to Do About Dog Stomach Gurgling

Hmm, have you noticed weird noises coming from your dog’s tummy? Is that dog stomach gurgling normal or do you need to see a vet? Find out.
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Have you ever thought your dog was growling only to realize the sound wasn’t coming from your dog’s mouth but from his stomach instead? If you have ever mistaken dog stomach gurgling for a regular pupper growl, you’re not alone.

While dog stomach growling isn’t uncommon, you shouldn’t ignore it. Like most symptoms (or weird noises for that matter), dog stomach gurgling can be completely normal — or it can indicate a real medical issue.

First, is dog stomach gurgling normal?

A dog upside down, showing off his stomach.
Is that dog stomach gurgling normal? Photography © WilleeCole | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Dog stomach gurgling is known officially as borborygmus (pronounced bor-bor-rig-mus). As Nicole LaForest, LVT, explains, “Borborygmus is a gurgling or rumbling noise that occurs when fluid or gas passes throughout the intestines.

Gas is supposed to travel through different parts of the intestines (that’s how it gets out, after all!). But when borborygmi is exceptionally loud or obvious, it might indicate discomfort.

“It is one of those symptoms that can mean anything from trapped wind — totally harmless — to a twisted stomach (GDV) — totally deadly,” says Dr. Dave Nicol, BVMS Cert MGMT of Roundwood Vets. “But usually it is a sign that something has upset the stomach and is leading to more gas being produced or the intestines moving food along more quickly to get it out as fast as possible.”

What does dog stomach gurgling mean?

Dog stomach gurgling can signify several different things. These can range from the harmless and totally normal to a severe illness or complication.

LaForest says, “The presence of stomach gurgling may occur from simply feeding table scraps, dietary changes, intestinal parasites, toxicity, immune-mediated conditions such as hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, IBS or Crohn’s, fluid in the abdominal cavity and potentially from ingestion of a foreign body such as a rock, stick or toy that may have potentially perforated through the intestines.”

“If your pet has recently had surgery or received anesthesia, stomach gurgling may be indicative of his intestines becoming mobile and responsive to the (lack thereof) drugs,” LaForest continues.

A black and white dog flipped over, showing his stomach!
What can you do about dog stomach gurgling? Photography © EmmaJanePhoto | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

What to do about dog stomach gurgling — if it’s normal

Can you hear your dog’s stomach gurgling? The sound you are hearing might signify an upset stomach. Luckily, if it’s all that is, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate the discomfort.

“If your dog is otherwise normal, then just keep a close watch and take an extra poo bag or two,” Dr. Nicol advises. “But if there is any other symptom happening like sleepiness, not eating or vomiting, then get it checked by your vet.”

If your dog isn’t exhibiting any other symptoms, diet can play a role.

“Try hard to stop your dog from scavenging,” advises Dr. Nicol. “Feed [your dog] a quality food and try to be consistent in your choice. Picking and mixing dog food based on cost — or what’s on special offer — is rarely a good idea and is going to cause more gurgly tummies.”

What to do about dog stomach gurgling — if it’s serious

While the above advice is applicable to innocuous cases, there’s more to consider if you notice additional symptoms alongside that dog stomach gurgling.

“Get a diagnosis from your veterinarian before initiating at-home care as many over-the-counter medications can be harmful if used inappropriately or frequently,” says LaForest.

“While waiting for your dog’s appointment, you could consider withholding food and water to allow their stomach to settle,” she adds. “If your dog is exhibiting other signs of intestinal upset, feeding a bland diet of unseasoned boiled poultry or fish and white rice may suffice.”

Dog stomach gurgling can also indicate the ingestion of a foreign body. “Try to rule out toxicities within your household such as chocolate, raisins, rat bait or sugar-free gum that may be the cause of your dog’s stomach gurgling,” LaForest advises.

Diagnosis of dog stomach gurgling

A physical examination will begin with feeling the dog’s abdomen and listening to his heart, lungs and intestinal sounds.

“Depending on what specifically your dog’s symptoms are, your veterinarian may recommend further diagnostics typically starting with X-rays and blood work and may discuss further testings such as a food allergy panel, ultrasound or fluid therapy if indicated to rule out a more serious or underlying condition,” LaForest adds.

Treating dog stomach gurgling

Oftentimes, dog stomach gurgling does not require professional treatment. However, in some cases, treatment may include deworming meds, adjusting of diet, fluid therapy or even surgery.

“In uncomplicated cases we mostly don’t need to treat; time is our healer,” explains Dr. Nicol.

According to LaForest, dog stomach gurgling can be resolved by withholding food, a bland diet or drugs that slow the production of gas, stomach acid or diarrhea.

LaForest adds, “If your pet is rapidly losing water, intravenous or subcutaneous fluid therapy along with an anti-nausea, antacid, anti-diarrhea or antibiotic may be necessary. If parasites are what is plaguing your pet, a dewormer or monthly preventative for worms and other parasites may be necessary.”

Top photograph:  michellegibson | E+ / Getty Images.

This piece was originally published in 2018. 

 

Read Next:How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Digest Food? (Plus, Other Dog Digestion Basics)

43 thoughts on “What to Do About Dog Stomach Gurgling”

  1. Our dog used to have this issue a few times a week. She would stop eating during her episodes. We tried a bunch of things with the vet and nothing worked.

    What finally resolved it nearly 100% was changing her drinking water 3 times a day.

    Clean water, go figure.

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  4. Our dog gets a very noisy tum from time to time. She can’t face her food when this happens. Some people say it might be naussea.
    We find a scrambled egg works.
    We have to hand feed her just very small pieces at a time. Once she has got going, the noise settles and she is fine

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  6. Wow…thank you.. thank you
    A full share article. Thank you very much. My dog was depressed for 3 days. And lying on a sad face. I am worried and I will treat my dog in the above ways.

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  16. My dog takes Pepcid when his tummy is loud and painful. It has worked great for years. He also has a probiotic for dogs that I sprinkle on his food. Good luck.

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  26. Stella Williams

    My elderly Jack Russell suffers from ongoing colitis and apart from her going off her food, one of the early symptoms of an attack is what I call her ‘gurgle tum’. The noises are incredibly loud and her belly is tight as a drum. You can feel the gas in her stomach moving. I have medication from my vet and after just two 1/4 tabs at allotted times, it nips it in the bud. Swift action is key. Prevents her getting to the bloody poo stage!
    Hope this is of interest/help.

    1. Deb Corsentino

      Hi Sella ~ I’m so glad you found something that works for your dog! Our yorkie has had two eposides of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. The second one did not get to the bloody stool stage, I believe because we brought her in to the vet as soon as there was blood showing in vomit and it progressed much more slowly than the first episode. In retrospect, I noticed, as you said, her tummy was very grumbly a day or so before and we would love to be able to nip it in the bud. Can you please tell me what medication your vet prescribed, so I can mention it to my vet? I’d really appreciate it!!

    2. sandra fiffick

      I’m having similar issues with my dog. 2 trips to vet and she still isn’t better. Could u please tell me what meds your vet gave you? I’d like to suggest it to my vet. Many thanks!!!

      1. Hi there, I would suggest that you guys do a “stool culture” test. Most stool sample over look bacteria and pathogens. Gurgling is caused by gut infection caused by bacteria /pathogens or could be even something serious like cancer. I’m only writing this because it happened to my pup and I’m extremely heartbroken.

      2. Hi Sandra’ I have this issue with our jack Russell all the time. We started him on yudigest for dogs twice a day with his food. Once in morning and last feed. His stomach is on the whole better. He still has some episodes but he picks up quicker. And they are less frequent and I haven’t had to visit the vet.

    3. Just wondering what medication your vet prescribed. My senior English Bulldog has been experiencing very loud gurgling on and off for about 4 months. My vet has suggested using Pepcid for 5 days which helps very quickly. I add rice and canned pumpkin to her meals everyday, however it seems to come back every two to three weeks. Planning to see the vet about this, but would love to discuss whatever you’ve found success with. She is wheat free and I have kept her on a very good quality kibble for many years, but maybe she’s become intolerant to it?

    4. What is the medication your vet prescribed. My Westie has these issues and it is so loud and she is so uncomfortable. I would like my vet to give her something as she keeps us up all night.

    5. What is the medication your vet prescribed. My Westie has these issues and it is so loud and she is so uncomfortable. Fd

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