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Gurgle, gurgle. Rumble, rumble. You've surely heard the sound coming from your pup before. Turns out, there's a word for that talking tummy: Borborygmus (pronounced bore-bore-IG-mus), or borborygmi, is a fancy word for stomach noises. This rumbling noise is created as gas moves through the intestines. While these can often be normal stomach sounds, it's important to understand why your dog's stomach makes this loud noise and when it may indicate a problem. If you're wondering, "Why is my dog's stomach making noises?" and "What should I do if my dog's stomach is gurgling?" you've come to the right place.
Why Is My Dog's Stomach Making Noises? Common Causes
Similar to what you may have experienced, a dog's tummy may regularly make noise. Some rumblings are expected as gas plays a normal part in the dog's gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Your dog's normal belly rumbles are typically caused by one of two things:
1. Air Consumption
While dogs don't drink carbonated beverages like humans do, they still consume their share of air. Have a quick eater? Generally speaking, the faster a dog eats, the more air they swallow in the process. This air has to go somewhere, and if it's not belched up, it makes its way along the gastrointestinal tract and announces its presence in the form of a rumbling tummy. This isn't a medical concern as the intestines are built for some gas to travel through them as part of the normal processing of food.
2. Hunger Pains
As a dog's stomach empties and prepares for its next meal, intestinal juices are often released in preparation. The release of these digestive juices and movement within the intestinal tract causes the tummy growling we associate with hunger. An empty belly often may make slightly louder noises than a full one, simply because there's no food in the intestines to absorb or block some of the volume.
Why Is My Dog's Stomach Making Noises? Less Common Causes
Occasionally, more significant reasons may cause borborygmi. Anything that affects your dog's GI tract can cause an increase — or decrease — of intestinal movement and associated noise. Some of the more common illnesses associated with stomach noises include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Intestinal parasites
- Hormonal diseases
- Intestinal cancer, such as lymphoma
- Gastrointestinal blockage caused by a foreign body
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE)
- Bloat, or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)
- Ingestion of a toxic substance
- New medication
- New food
Additionally, you may have heard how eating grass may cause your dog's stomach to gurgle. However, contrary to popular belief, dogs aren't always feeling sick when they eat grass. Dogs may eat grass because they're bored, enjoy the texture or taste or they're seeking an unmet nutritional need. But eating grass isn't usually a cause for concern.
If you find yourself thinking, "My dog's stomach is gurgling often" or if you notice your dog eating quickly, you can try some easy solutions. Many dog food bowls are available with the intention to slow down their eating. The "Brake-Fast" bowl is one example. As the dog navigates the built-in bowl "obstacles," they eat more slowly, chew more and swallow less air, all of which lead to a healthier GI tract and less prominent intestinal sounds.
Occasionally, a dog may need more feedings spread out over the course of the day if you routinely hear stomach noises between meals. More often than not, only younger dogs may need more frequent feedings.
When Should I Seek Veterinary Care?
In and of itself, there's no need to be alarmed if you hear your dog's stomach gurgling. You should seek veterinary care when your dog's stomach rumbles are accompanied by other physical signs. Some of the more common signs that point to a problem include:
- Decreased appetite
- Deceased energy
- Loose stools
- Hypersalivation (a sign of an upset stomach)
- Hunched or praying posture, with the rear end higher than the front quarters, a sign of abdominal pain
If you're questioning your dog's tummy noises, a general rule is to give a mild sign 24 hours to see if it improves. If any signs of GI worsen — or other GI signs develop — don't wait the entire 24 hours. A visit to your veterinarian can make all the difference in leading a happy and healthy life with your furry friend.
Dr. Laci Schaible
Dr. Laci Schaible is an accomplished small animal veterinarian and considered a thought leader in veterinary telehealth and veterinary law. She received her D.V.M. from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and her law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law. She lives in Florida with her son, the world's largest standard poodle, and two toilet-trained cats.