Like any average American, you’ve probably had one too many slices of pie at Thanksgiving dinner. If so, then you know how uncomfortable a full or bloated stomach can be.
Among other symptoms, you feel sluggish, groggy, or grumpy at best. At worst, you may sweat and experience nausea. In other instances, your stomach may be telling you that you ate something you’re allergic to or, worse, something spoiled that shouldn’t have been consumed.
Dogs can have these same experiences, which can sometimes cause serious, even fatal, health emergencies. That’s why it’s important to not only know how much your pet is eating, but also what they’re eating.
Food motivated dogs that are driven by their powerful noses may even be enticed by week-old garbage smoldering in the day’s heat if we aren’t careful enough to watch them and to intervene.
If your dog’s tummy has been making strange or loud gurgling noises, you may be wondering how serious, if at all, the sounds are. There are a few things to consider, symptoms to watch out for, and remedies to be aware of if the gurgling seems to be troubling you and Fido.
Most serious of all is the threat of canine bloat, which unlike the bloating you feel after one too many helpings of a delicious dinner, is a fatal health risk that is much more than just a full belly.
- What are stomach noises in dogs?
- Causes of a gurgling stomach in dogs
- 1. Canine bloat
- 2. Indigestion
- 3. Hunger pains
- 4. Canine tachyphagia
- Why does the gurgling happen at night?
- Symptoms that may accompany the loud gurgling
- 1. Eating grass
- 2. Diarrhea
- 3. Vomiting
- 4. Loss of appetite (dog won’t eat)
- What to do if the sound becomes severe?
- Home remedies to stop canine bloat
- Purchase a slow feeder
- Dietary changes
- Preventative surgery may be recommended
- 1. Can I give my dog Pepto Bismol for an upset stomach?
- 2. Should I try to settle the upset stomach myself?
- 3. Do excessive gurgling noises mean my dog’s stomach has flipped?
What are stomach noises in dogs?
If you’re noticing some rumbling in your dog’s tummy, it isn’t necessarily cause for alarm. Your playful pet may eat a lot of kibble in order to make up for that energy exerted during a game of tug-of-war or a run with you through the local park.
Our bodies are typically smooth-running machines when it comes to digestion, but that does not mean they are always quiet. An occasional rumble or gurgle in your dog’s belly is typically just a sign that their body is processing their food. However, this is not always the case.
Causes of a gurgling stomach in dogs
When looked at as an isolated symptom, a gurgling stomach can be anything. Abdominal noises are so common in dogs that veterinarians even have medical terminology to describe these sounds: canine borborygmic.
Depending on what other symptoms are accompanied with it, the issue could vary from something that should be a serious concern to something that will pass and subside on its own. Here are some of the reasons why a pet may have a vocal tummy:
1. Canine bloat
Canine bloat, known to veterinarians as Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus or GDV, is a serious, life-threatening condition that can result in fatality within hours.
While abdominal sounds aren’t a direct result of canine bloat, it can be a symptom of it.
Bloat will typically occur from a dog eating too much and/or too quickly and when this happens, the stomach will often make noises as it attempts to digest the quick influx of food.
Other symptoms of canine bloat you should look for include:
- Hard or stiff abdomen
- Signs of pain when you touch the abdomen
- Excessive salivation
- Attempting but unable to vomit
Acids that help us break down food in our bellies can sometimes become too acidic or the body can produce too many of these enzymes, resulting in indigestion or acid reflux. Burping and/or stomach sounds are a common symptom if indigestion is what’s occurring.
3. Hunger pains
A canine’s loud belly could be telling them and you that they haven’t had enough to eat. Typically, dogs are very active and even thrive on frequent exercise. However, when they finish a long day playing at the dog park, it’s likely they’ll need an extra helping of food to make up for all that energy burned.
If you’re a new pet owner, it could be that you haven’t found the proper portions for your faithful friend.
If so, you can easily follow the suggested amount which veterinarians determine based on weight, age, and level of activeness. Some things to consider when researching portion sizes for Fido:
- A healthy dog figure will have a waist and ribs should be slightly felt on sides
- Note if your dog doesn’t eat everything in their bowl (maybe try less next time)
- Note if your dog eats every last bite in their bowl and licks it or stares at it (maybe try more next time)
- Use a measuring cup to note which portion sizes are working
- Refer to the back of the dog food package, which will have serving suggestions
- Always talk to your vet before switching to a new food source or drastically changing their portion size
For dogs that have no dietary restrictions or issues and receive moderate exercise every day, you may find these allocations helpful:
- Dogs from 50 to 100 pounds may require 230 grams to 600 grams of food per day
- Dogs weighing 20 to 75 pounds may need at least 130 grams to 400 grams of food
- Puppies or small breeds (5 pounds to 20 pounds) need at least 50 grams to 180 grams
4. Canine tachyphagia
This is a fancy way of saying that your dog eats too quickly. Most dog-owners will lovingly call their pet a food inhaler or a food vacuum, and while their passion for cuisine is just another personality trait that we find adorable about them, it is one of the leading causes of stomach issues, including canine bloat.
When dogs eat too quickly, they run the risk of becoming a victim of bloat, as they take on excess air which becomes trapped in their stomach.
Canine bloat may sound like something as simple as being very full after a meal, but it can actually cause the stomach itself to rotate inside the body, effectively shutting down organs and causing fatal blood circulation issues.
Some ways to keep your “food inhaler” from enjoying their meal too fast include:
- Placing large rocks in their food bowl
- Feeding them a little at a time
- If you own more than one dog, feeding them separately so they don’t feel stressed to eat their food quickly so the other one doesn’t steal it
- Purchasing a special feeding bowl which can be found online or at your local pet supply store
Why does the gurgling happen at night?
Unless weight-restriction, routine, or strict medical advice from a veterinarian suggests otherwise, dogs should be fed no more and no less than twice a day.
For many households, this means a bowl of kibble or wet food in the morning and another at night. If food is the source of your dog’s gurgling or stomach making loud noises, then you may be witnessing the noises at night while they rest beside or in your bed, but not in the morning since you’re typically out of the door and headed for work or to run errands by then.
The night is also a peak hour for a lot of the body’s processes. When we are resting, our digestive system uses extra, unused energy to process food. This could be another reason why you notice these sounds more so at night.
Alternatively, high-energy breeds or young, rowdy puppies may use up a lot of their body’s stored energy during the day from running, jumping, and playing.
This may leave their stomach feeling very empty at night, giving the stomach acid nothing to dissolve and therefore upsetting the stomach. They may experience more loud stomach noises at night than during the day.
Symptoms that may accompany the loud gurgling
These noises should only become worrisome for your pet if it persists and/or is combined with any of the symptoms listed below.
1. Eating grass
Studies show that there’s a wide array of reasons why dogs may eat grass. While some suggest it’s a dietary supplement since they desire a meat and plant-based diet, others insist that grass acts less like a vitamin and more like a stimulant meant to instigate vomiting. However, veterinarians and animal experts report that only a small percentage of dogs would vomit as a result of consuming grass.
Canine grass eating could be a sign to you that they’re not getting all the nutrients they need from their dog food.
- You can aid this by administering vitamins or nutrient-rich supplements to your pet every morning or even substituting a meal that isn’t kibble once a day.
- Try giving them unseasoned dog-friendly veggies (such as carrots, broccoli, kale, or any dark, leafy green) cooked in coconut oil (a wonderful supplement for dogs that promotes a healthy coat) or even just mashed sweet potatoes with nicely chopped raw veggies on top. (Tip: Never season your pet’s food with excess salt and especially not pepper, as it can cause adverse effects in dogs.
- Always avoid nightshade plants which include eggplant, any kind of pepper, tomatoes, and even potatoes.)
Generally, if your pup is occasionally nibbling on some grass, it’s most likely not a cause for concern. However, if it’s in combination with other symptoms and a grumbling stomach, then it’s in your four-legged family member’s best interest that they visit a vet’s office as soon as possible.
While diarrhea isn’t a common symptom of canine bloat, it is an important symptom to look for when and if your pet is experiencing stomach discomfort or you suspect a digestive issue.
Dogs can experience soft stool from something as simple of as stress. For animals, stress can occur from almost anything: change in diet, change in environment, change in routine, or even the introduction of a new family-member or new next-door neighbor.
More likely, however, irritable bowels are the result of a digestive issue, such as worms or bacteria, dehydration, or even something they ate. Diarrhea is only a serious symptom if it persists longer than 2-4 days.
It is especially important to pay attention to if it is accompanied by obvious discomfort, vomiting, lack of appetite, dehydration, and lethargy.
Bloody stool, which can sometimes just look extremely dark in color, verging on black, is cause for an emergency vet visit, as it could be the first sign of internal bleeding or any number of fatal health conflicts, such as parvovirus.
If you suspect canine bloat, don’t worry so much about your pet vomiting. Due to the issues of their stomach, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to.
They will, however, try their best to vomit, mostly coughing up extra saliva. If they are attempting to vomit a great deal of the time, then you should get to the nearest emergency room because it’s likely they’re experiencing canine bloat.
An isolated incident of vomiting that isn’t coinciding with other symptoms, is likely just your pet’s attempt to rid their body of something that has disagreed with their digestive system. In this regard, they are self-diagnosing and self-curing themselves.
Other cases of vomiting, however, especially in abundance or for more than a couple hours, could be a sign of poisoning or toxicity.
Excessive vomiting will cause your dog to dehydrate, as well. A gurgling stomach accompanied by vomiting up bile could be issues with their diet or even an empty stomach.
4. Loss of appetite (dog won’t eat)
Most dogs are highly food-motivated animals, because of this, it’s common for them to express discomfort or physical ailing by not eating. In some ways, this symptom isn’t a symptom at all as much as it is a way of your dog communicating to you that something doesn’t feel right.
A lack of interest in food could be the symptom of almost any physical or even mental ailment, including canine bloat.
When combined with a rumbling tummy, it’s likely your pet is experiencing some form of indigestion and you should pay extra attention to both their behavior and eating habits.
If you typically let your pet outside to do his or her business, make a point to walk out there with them and watch instead of letting them go independently. This will help you find other symptoms, if any, such as diarrhea, bloody stool, eating grass, and/or vomiting.
What to do if the sound becomes severe?
If your dog’s noisy stomach does not subside, then it’s time to call your vet or visit a nearby emergency animal hospital. While loud sounds may be no cause of concern, the regular occurrence of sounds, especially when combined with other symptoms, should not be ignored.
On your way to the vet, the best thing you can do is keep calm. Dogs respond to our emotions, so if you’re anxious, they will feel anxious.
If you have a friendly neighbor, a roommate, or partner, have them drive you to the vet while you sit in the back with your dog and gently pet their head. Avoid petting their stomach and do not administer any food or water to them.
There isn’t necessarily a treatment for your pup’s tummy gurgles as it is typically a sign of proper digestion.
However, as expressed, if a vocal stomach is occurring often, for several hours or days, and/or in combination with any of the symptoms discussed above, your dog needs to visit a vet as soon as possible.
In the case of canine bloat, perhaps the most serious form of digestive issues as it often coincides with death when not treated, medical attention is always needed. If you suspect your pooch is suffering from bloat, immediately get to a vet’s office. Call ahead of time and let them know the situation so they can appropriately prepare, and better help prevent cardiac arrest (which can happen with canine bloat).
The steps for veterinarians treating bloat or gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) will typically be a surgery called gastropexy. In all cases of canine bloat, surgery is required. There is no other way to help the stomach return to its original internal position.
Home remedies to stop canine bloat
Try the following mitigation methods to help stop the loud noises from your dog’s stomach.
Purchase a slow feeder
Purposefully slowing down eating is one of the best resources for GDV preventative care. There are several affordable products in the market to help dog-owners feel more at ease when feeding their pooch.
These “slow feeders” will often break up kibble or wet food in a way that makes a dog have to work to eat, effectively slowing them down and helping them avoid bloat.
Some of these can even feel like a fun game to your pet, such as large “food toys” that contain dry food much like a piñata contains candy. Fido will have to paw at this toy in order to get his or her food, something that’s entertaining to them (and for you!) as well as safe.
Another preventative care tip is to introduce healthy starches to your dog’s diet. These include bananas, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. However, it should be noted that this will not prevent and especially will not treat canine bloat.
Only a visit to the vet and a surgical procedure will effectively treat bloat. This is only meant to help settle an upset stomach or a lacking diet.
Preventative surgery may be recommended
Because canine bloat is a leading cause of fatality in dogs, the veterinary community is constantly funding and performing research on this health complication.
While a lot is still unknown, what they have found to be true is that it is hereditary. Many animal lovers and behaviorists urge breeders and owners to not let their dog reproduce if bloat has occurred in them. Some breeds are more susceptible to GDV and it is especially common in Great Danes.
Veterinarians may recommend Great Dane pet-parents to take a huge preventative measure and schedule surgery before bloat has the chance to occur. This preventative surgery is called gastropexy which aims to secure the stomach, helping prevent torsion, or stomach-turning, which is the deadliest process of canine bloat.
1. Can I give my dog Pepto Bismol for an upset stomach?
While it is generally safe to administer the correct dosage of Pepto Bismol to your furry friend (one teaspoon per 10 pounds), veterinarians always recommend checking in with them before doing so.
Certain medicines found in Pepto which don’t adversely affect humans could be hard on the canine digestive system.
Likewise, Simethicone, a medicine that helps relieve gas can also be given to dogs to help them with an upset stomach. However, it’s difficult for the typical dog-owner to know exactly what is ailing their dog.
What could appear as some painful gas or simply an uncomfortable stomach could be a more serious issue, such as canine bloat which can cause the stomach to twist, effectively hindering a dog’s ability to relieve themselves.
What’s more a twisted stomach, referred to by veterinarians as volvulus or torsion, cuts off the body’s ability to take in material, be it food or any medicine you attempt to administer.
A likely occurrence if you try to give your dog Pepto Bismol is that it will end up in their lungs, further complicating the severity of their situation.
2. Should I try to settle the upset stomach myself?
While an upset stomach is usually no cause for alarm, it could be more than just an upset stomach.
Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to communicate with our pets and so it’s hard for us to know exactly what they’re feeling or going through. The most important thing to remember as a dog-owner is that you should never diagnose your companion yourself.
While they’re stomach gurgles, they show lack of interest in food, and they lay sprawled out on the floor with a round belly, you may just think they’re full from a yummy meal, when really, they could be experiencing early signs of canine bloat or GDV.
Before treating your dog, yourself, you should get the opinion of a veterinarian first.
3. Do excessive gurgling noises mean my dog’s stomach has flipped?
Frequent, prolonged gurgling noises do not necessarily mean the stomach has flipped. This could be a case of indigestion, too much food, too little food, or the result of eating dinner too quickly. If the gurgling is happening alongside any of the symptoms listed below, get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Attempts to vomit
- Salivation or drooling
- Whining, groans, or other signs of pain or anxiousness
- Preventive Vet: Bloat in Dogs: What It Is, the Symptoms, and Treatment
- American Kennel Club: Preventing Torsion When Bloating with Prophylactic Gastropexy
- VCA Hospitals: Diarrhea in Dogs