Have you ever heard a loud gurgle and asked yourself, “Why is my dog’s stomach making a noise?” You’re not alone. And more importantly, you may have wondered if the dog’s stomach gurgling is something to worry about.
When it comes to your dog’s stomach making noises – what is normal?
Dogs’ stomach noises, like everything in medicine, have a fancy name. The scientific name for your dog’s stomach noises is borborygmi. These gurgling noises occur when gas moves from one part of the intestine to the other.
It is normal to have some gas in the intestines. And it is normal for the intestine to engage in motility or activity that moves the intestinal contents. Therefore, it is normal for gas to move in the intestines and soft borborygmi are therefore normal phenomena.
Normal borborygmi are calm. Try the following experiment: Put your ear to your dog’s belly. You should hear periods of silence interspersed with soft gurgles. This is what normal Borborygmi sounds like.
However, some dogs experience episodes of unusually loud gurgling in the intestines. During these episodes, the Borborygmi can be heard from anywhere in the room. These noises are not entirely normal, but they do not always represent a crisis. Sometimes they indicate that something is wrong with the intestinal tract. In other cases nothing serious than starvation causes them.
But what if the noises are loud?
Normal, calm borborygmi occur when normal amounts of gas are transported through the intestines in a normal manner. Unusually loud bowel sounds occur when the bowel contains abnormally large amounts of gas or when the bowel is unusually active. Both phenomena often occur at the same time.
Is your dog’s stomach making a noise because he is hungry?
One of the most common causes of your dog’s stomach noises is when your dog is hungry. The intestines of hungry animals do not contain significant amounts of Ingesta. (Remember how doctors use fancy words for everything? Ingesta means food in most cases.)
Therefore, they have a higher gas to solids ratio. And the empty bowel might show activity in response to the expected feeding. The result is audible bowel noises or “belly growls”. Breakfast is the treatment for this type of bowel gargle.
Are the noises because your dog ate something strange – or something he shouldn’t have?
Unfortunately, hunger isn’t the only thing that can lead to a loud gargle in the intestines. Anything that can cause gastrointestinal upset of any kind can also cause audible borborygmi.
Diet-related indiscretion, such as occurs when dogs break into the trash or enjoy novel foods, is a common cause of a dog’s stomach making noise. This type of gastrointestinal disorder is often mild (it can be compared to what can happen when a person who does not normally eat spicy food goes to a Thai restaurant).
Note, however, that dietary indiscretion in some cases can lead to very severe vomiting or diarrhea, or other complications such as pancreatitis in dogs.
Other reasons your dog’s stomach is making noises
Other potentially serious causes of your dog’s stomach noises include intestinal parasites, inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal foreign bodies, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, certain toxicities, drug side effects, metabolic problems such as liver or kidney disease, glandular disease, and even colon cancer.
What to do if your dog’s stomach makes a noise
How concerned should you be about your dog’s stomach making noise and what should you do? It depends on the circumstances. When it is morning and your dog is fine but has not yet been fed, consider offering breakfast. If he eats with his normal enthusiasm and the noises stop, there is probably no problem.
On the other hand, a problem may arise if your dog’s stomach makes noises in combination with symptoms such as mild lethargy or appetite. You should be prepared for possible diarrhea or vomiting (although these are not guaranteed to develop) and offer an easily digestible diet like cooked boneless and skinless chicken breasts with steamed white rice.
If your dog is making loud bowel noises and appears sick, you should see a veterinarian immediately. Symptoms that should trigger the alarm include excessive lethargy, significantly decreased appetite or thirst, diarrhea, and especially vomiting.
If you are unsure whether your dog needs to see the veterinarian, it is always safest to take him in. In these circumstances, it is better to be on the safe side.
Are your dog’s stomach noises painful?
Some people wonder if loud bowel noises are painful. Again, it depends on the circumstances under which your dog’s stomach is making noises. Hunger attacks aren’t particularly miserable, but the cramps associated with some of the more serious causes of loud borborygmi can be downright excruciating. Painful borborygmi are usually associated with lethargy and loss of appetite. If your dog appears to be in pain, a trip to the vet is in order.
Finally, some dogs regularly experience loud bowel noises. If you notice a dog’s stomach making loud noises many times a week, you should use the presence (or hopefully absence) of other symptoms to control your response. Dogs who regularly experience loud borborygmi associated with diarrhea or loss of appetite may have inflammatory bowel disease, parasites, or other chronic bowel diseases that should be treated.
Dogs who are feeling fine but regularly produce loud bowel noises probably have nothing wrong with (although you should get this confirmed by your veterinarian). After all, some people are more gaseous than others, and some bowels are naturally more active than others.
Tell us: Is your dog’s stomach making a noise? How do they sound What was the culprit behind your dog’s stomach noises?
Thumbnail: Photography © WilleeCole | iStock / Getty Images Plus.
This piece was originally released in 2015.