Largely harmless, and usually nothing for pet parents to be alarmed about, a dog's gurgling stomach may make unsettling sounds, but as in people, the stomach is simply reacting to gas moving through it.
However, unlike the awkwardness a person may feel, say, when her stomach growls during an important meeting, dogs don't feel similarly embarrassed, and their tummy gurgling doesn't affect them adversely at all.
Technically known as borborygmi, stomach noise usually occurs for a few different, completely normal reasons. But even if it is an inconsequential bodily function most of the time, in some cases, borborygmi can be a symptom of a serious medical issue, such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, liver disease, parasite infection, leaky gut syndrome, or a gastrointestinal obstruction.
Furthermore, if your dog's gurgling stomach is disturbingly noisy, nonstop, or at any time is accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, and other clinical signs of illness, have your dog examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Benign reasons for a dog's gurgling stomach
If your dog's tummy is gurgling, which typically is a soft sound interspersed with periods of silence, says Dr. Karen Becker of Mercola, it's often a normal reaction of the digestive system, as per the following:
- If your dog has an empty stomach and she's hungry, it can cause the stomach to gurgle, a readily recognized occurrence in people, too.
- If your dog eats too quickly, it may bring on a bout of stomach gurgling.
- If your dog has just finished eating and her stomach starts gurgling a little, it indicates the gastrointestinal tract is doing its job of breaking down the food in the digestive process.
- Inhaling oxygen while eating too quickly or gulping air when heavily panting during exercise can cause dogs to burp and their stomach to gurgle.
When your dog's stomach gurgling is not normal
If your dog's gurgling stomach is disturbingly loud, ongoing, and accompanied by any of the following clinical signs, it's important to have your veterinarian examine her to diagnose the underlying cause of the boraborygmi, and treat accordingly:
- Lack of appetite.
Diagnostics will likely include full blood work, urinalysis, fecal evaluation, abdominal radiographs or abdominal ultrasound, a pLI to rule out pancreatitis, and specific testing to rule out underlying endocrine disease.
Abnormal reasons for stomach gurgling
Although in most cases you won't have to worry about the occasional session of stomach gurgling in your dog, when you observe the clinical signs of illness, it could be caused by one of the following medical problems:
Dietary indiscretions, also known as "indiscriminate snacking" on rocks, string, stuffed toys, sticks, socks, bones, paper, rancid meat, and a buffet of other non-edibles can be at the root of loud stomach noises in dogs, which may or may not be a medical emergency —
ranging from an upset tummy from spoiled food you can sometimes treat at home to life-threatening gastrointestinal tract blockages. To be on the safe side, if you don't know what she consumed, but are concerned it could be lodged in her GI or even toxic, see your veterinarian or go to an emergency veterinary hospital immediately.
Stomach gurgling can be caused by parasites such as giardia, coccidia, and cryptosporidium, says Dr. Becker, and also parasitic worms like whipworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.
Dysbiosis, commonly known as leaky gut syndrome is caused by an overgrowth of bad bacteria and inadequate good bacteria, which inflames the membranes of the intestine, often producing stomach noise.
An underlying disease such as inflammatory bowel disease could be the cause for stomach gurgling says Dr. Carly Fox, staff doctor at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, New York.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas and causes digestive enzymes to cause damage to other organs, including the gastrointestinal system ergo stomach gurgling.
When the liver can no longer do its job of removing toxins from the body, it becomes a serious health issue with signs, including vomiting, lethargy, and others, which may include borborygmi, says Dr. Fox.
When to see a vet about your dog's stomach gurgling
If your dog's tummy is rumbling first thing in the morning, it's generally because he's hungry and it's time for breakfast, or at least a snack to hold him over if you don't generally feed him until later in the day.
Nevertheless, if the gurgling is ongoing and accompanied by any of the clinical symptoms listed, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible to have your dog evaluated.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.