Dog stomach gurgling: what does it mean?

If you’ve ever been interrupted by a gurgle when snuggling your dog, you may have wondered what all the noise was about. 

Those tummy rumbles have various causes, and soft intermittent gurgles are perfectly normal. But sometimes gurgling can indicate a serious health issue. Below we reveal the common causes of dog stomach rumbling and when you should be concerned. 

Common causes of dog stomach gurgling

Normal digestion – In most cases, dog stomach noises are nothing to worry about. Just as our own tummies can gurgle randomly throughout the day, our furry friends can too. It’s a normal part of digestion and breaking down food. Also known as Borborygmi, gurgling noises often happen as gas moves through the gastrointestinal tract.

Hunger – Hunger growls are slightly louder than typical digestion sounds, and occur when your dog has gone a while without food. If your dog has regular hunger rumbles, try introducing smaller, more frequent meal times. 

Air – If your dog eats too quickly they can ingest air at the same time, which can lead to excessive gurgling. If eating too fast is an issue for your dog, try using a slow feed bowl or making a game out of meal times. 

Change in diet – A sudden change in your dog’s diet can play havoc with their digestion. You should switch their diet gradually to avoid an upset tum. 

Eating something they shouldn’t – Dogs are notorious scavengers and will eat almost anything. But if they eat something new or too rich, this can result in stomach gurgling. Even those seemingly innocent table scraps can send your dog’s tummy off kilter. 

When is dog stomach gurgling a cause for concern? 

The above causes are relatively harmless and aren’t a huge cause for concern. But when gurgling is paired with any of the following symptoms, this could indicate a more serious problem. 

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Lethargy 
  • Excessive drooling 
  • Excessive gas
  • Dehydration 
  • Swollen, bloated abdomen
  • Hunched posture 

These symptoms could be caused by:

Gastrointestinal obstruction – If your dog has eaten a ball, a toy or rocks, for example, this can cause an obstruction in the intestines. This is an emergency and will require a surgical procedure. 

Inflammatory bowel disease – Dogs can develop IBD just as humans can. The condition causes an inflammation in the intestines and disrupts normal digestion. IBD can be managed with medication and a special diet. A vet will conduct blood tests and recommend the correct form of treatment. 

Bloat – Bloat is a serious condition which can be fatal if left untreated. In bloat cases the stomach fills with gas and twists creating a swollen, bloated stomach. If you notice signs of bloat, see your vet immediately. 

Liver disease – Liver disease stops a dog’s liver from removing toxins from the body. The condition is a serious health problem and requires immediate attention from a vet. Medications and dietary changes can help manage symptoms. 

Pancreatitis – Pancreatitis is often caused by eating foods too high in fat. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, this can cause damage to the pancreas and other organs due to digestive enzymes. You can manage your dog’s symptoms with medication and a special low-fat diet. 

If your dog adopts the ‘prayer stance’, with their head and shoulders down and front legs stretched, this can signal your dog has abdominal pain. Always see your vet if you notice gurgling and the above symptoms. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

But if your dog experiences the occasional gurgle after a meal and they’re happy in themselves, it’s usually nothing to worry about. 

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