If you hear a gurgling sound coming from your dog’s tummy, you might immediately assume he has an upset stomach. That could be one possible explanation, but there are others. Here’s some information on what might be causing that odd sound, and how you might be able to eliminate the issue by changing your dog’s food or taking other measures.
There’s actually a name for that rumbling in your dog’s stomach – “borborygmi” (also known as “borborygmus”). Just like in humans, this rumbling can occur for many reasons. Sometimes, it’s just a normal part of the digestive process. Other times, it happens because something is wrong. Here are a few of the most common causes:
1. Swallowing air
When your dog eats too fast, he can swallow a lot of air. This can lead to burping, as well as stomach gurgling.1 If your pooch regularly has a rumbling in his or her tummy after eating, you might want to consider changing the way your dog eats. You can put his or her food in what’s commonly referred to as a “slow bowl.” This is a specially designed bowl that, as the name implies, forces a dog to slow down when eating.
2. He’s hungry
Have you ever noticed your stomach rumbling when you haven’t had a meal in a while? Well, the same thing can happen to your dog. These noises occur due to movements inside the gastrointestinal tract. They usually occur before breakfast or dinner.2
3. The digestive process
Borborygmi is often nothing more than a normal part of the process of breaking down food. Not only is food moving through the gastrointestinal tract, so are the gases created by digestion. If a dog eats after a prolonged period of not having any food, that can make gurgling louder than it normally would be.3
4. Indiscriminate eating
If you’ve had a dog for any period of time, you know that dogs tend not to eat just their food. Some dogs will eat just about anything they can get a hold of, including toys or garbage. When this happens, the gastrointestinal tract will have to put in extra work to digest it. That, in turn, can lead to loud rumbling.
Causes for Concern
In the vast majority of instances, grumbling in the tummy might mean little more than an upset stomach. There are, however, some rare occurrences when it means something more serious. Here are a couple of examples:
This is one of the most severe medical emergencies involving dogs. Canine bloat is a sign that the dog’s stomach has actually flipped. When this happens, blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract is cut off. If this is not treated immediately, it could be fatal. Signs of bloat include collapse, difficulty breathing, a suddenly enlarged stomach, and weakness. If you suspect bloat, get your dog to the vet or an emergency clinic immediately.4
When it comes to your dog, upset stomach problems can result in diarrhea. If you hear a lot of rumbling in your dog’s tummy, that could mean he’ll soon have an attack. This could be due to a change in your pet’s food, some sort of food intolerance, or swallowing something he or she shouldn’t have. You’ll need to keep a close eye on this situation. If your pet has diarrhea for more than a few days, get him or her to the vet. Also, make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water so you don’t run the risk of him or her becoming dehydrated.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
IBD occurs when the immune system attacks the lining of the digestive tract. This can make it very hard for a dog to properly digest food and get the nutrients he or she needs. It can also lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and more. Along with gurgling sounds, IBD symptoms include weakness, lethargy, bloody stools, difficulty going to the bathroom, and weight loss.5
What Can You Do About It?
If your dog’s upset stomach occurs frequently, you might want to consider changing his or her food. Look closely at the food you are feeding your pet. Many dog foods are high in carbohydrates, which can be difficult for your pup to efficiently metabolize. These kinds of foods typically contain grain by-products that can increase the chances your dog will be gassy.6
You might want to consider giving your dog a probiotic product. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help ensure a proper balance between good and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. They can help improve your dog’s digestion and reduce gurgling sounds.7
If your dog is eating too fast, you can try other things in addition to the aforementioned “slow bowl.” If you have another dog you feed at the same time, the fast eater might see this as a type of competition. He or she might want to eat as fast as possible and get over to the other bowl to finish off what’s left. Try feeding your dogs in separate locations to keep the competitiveness to a minimum.
Also, leave a few hours in between meals, so your dog can completely digest his or her food. Watch the way your pet exercises just before and just after eating. If he or she gets too worked up, that can contribute to gassiness.
The Bottom Line
If your dog’s stomach makes gurgling noises, it’s usually just a normal part of digestion. It might be because he or she is eating too quickly, or eating the wrong type of food. Your pet might just be hungry. If you’re concerned, check with your vet.
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