I remember the first time I heard my dog’s stomach making noises: a strange, gurgling, rumbling sound that went on and on. I spent ten minutes going around the house, trying to find the source. What was it? Water in the pipes? An earthquake? Some sort of little monster?
In the end, the sound was coming from the very last place I expected… inside my German Shepherd, Sadie. Her face was completely placid, but her stomach was groaning and grumbling like it was storming in there. Obviously I was alarmed, thinking that we were about to have a very serious bathroom incident, but it turned out there was nothing to worry about.
But why was my dog’s stomach making noises? I immediately set out to find out.
Borborygmi: The Most Common Reason Your Dog’s Stomach is Making Noises
There are many reasons your furry friend’s tummy might be rumbling, but the most common is borborygmi.
If you have ever been sitting on the couch watching television and heard a loud, unexplained gurgle from your own stomach, you are already familiar with the main cause of loud stomachs in dogs. The technical term for this is borborygmi.
Borborygmi are simply the sounds made when gas travels through a dog’s (or a human’s) intestines. Usually these sounds are barely audible, and you would have to be very close to your dog to hear them. Sometimes, though, they can be heard from across the room. Or, in Sadie’s case, from halfway across the house!
Borborygmi are louder when there are larger-than-normal amounts of gas trying to pass through the intestines. In most instances, this doesn’t indicate a problem. It often just means that your dog ate a lot on an empty stomach or ate something that is causing more air than usual.
Other Benign Reasons for Noisy Stomach in Dogs
Did you hear that? Most of the time, a dog’s stomach making noises is nothing to worry about.
Aside from gas moving through the intestines, there are a couple other reasons why your dog’s stomach could be making noises, and they may be pretty obvious.
Just like people, dogs’ stomach growl when they are hungry. So if your dog hasn’t eaten for a while, it is not uncommon to hear his or her stomach gurgling. Typically this happens in the morning after the dog has gone all night without food, or in the evening when he starts thinking about dinner. These noises usually stop once the dog has eaten.
The other reason your dog’s stomach could be making noises is that there is more air than usual moving around inside his or her belly. This can happen if they have been panting a lot or gulping down their food too fast (which can be dangerous for other reasons). Things are usually resolved if the dog burps or, well… uses a stinkier alternative.
Change in Diet
Dogs, like most pets, are very susceptible to stomach problems when there is a change in their diet. If you switch dog food brands or add in wet food when they are used to only dry, your dog’s stomach could get a bit upset and noisy as they adapt to the change. In most cases this is temporary, however.
More Worrisome Reasons a Dog’s Stomach Could Be Making Noises
Sometimes your dog’s stomach noises can be due to something more serious, and require a trip to the vet.
Usually, a dog’s noisy stomach is at most a minor annoyance for those who have to listen to the strange sounds all day. In rare cases, though, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Here are a few more troubling reasons why Fido’s stomach could be gurgling.
She Ate Something She Shouldn’t Have
Anyone who has ever owned a dog can tell you that most dogs will eat absolutely anything. While this would be fine and dandy if they limited themselves to what their human puts in their food bowl, this is not always the case. Many dogs like to go exploring in the trash can or on the ground outside, and this can lead to them eating something that could not only give them indigestion, but could potentially endanger their life.
If you know that your dog has been digging in the trash, it is important to find out what she ate. Sometimes dogs eat things that are poisonous or even things that are not digestible, like pieces of wood, metal, plastic, or other objects, and this can cause severe problems. A loud stomach may be the first sign that something is wrong, followed by vomiting and diarrhea.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a condition that is typically thought of as occurring only in human beings. Unfortunately, though, dogs can also get this syndrome, which is similar to a chronic allergic reaction. The intestines become inflamed as a result of contact with a certain protein or parasite, and this can lead to the dog’s stomach making noises, as well as to diarrhea, vomiting, and a lack of appetite.
While symptoms like a bloated-looking stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or weight loss are more common symptoms, a dog’s stomach could also make noise due to intestinal parasites. The most common are roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms, all of which can be eliminated with medicine prescribed by your vet.
No one likes to think about cancer when it comes to their best buddy, but in some rare cases, gastrointestinal cancers can be the reason your dog’s stomach is making noises. Luckily, stomach cancers are not very common in dogs. Unluckily, they typically do not show symptoms until the illness is at an advanced stage, which is why it is important to see your vet if you suspect something more serious than a growling stomach is going on.
Other illnesses that cause gastrointestinal symptoms in dogs include kidney disease, digestive disorders, allergic reactions to medications, and gastroenteritis.
When to Worry
Luckily, most of the time a noisy stomach is more annoying than worrisome!
Okay, that last section was a bit heavy, and you may be worrying that your dog’s stomach is making noises for a much more sinister reason than you thought. In the large majority of cases, though, this worry is unfounded. Unless you know that your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t have, you should only worry about a loud stomach if the dog is exhibiting other signs that something is wrong, such as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, excessive drooling, fatigue, or other behavioral changes.
What to do about a Noisy Stomach
Usually the solution to a noisy stomach is simple, and your pal can be back to normal in no time!
Most of the time, you don’t really have to do anything when your dog’s stomach is making noises, as it will quiet down on its own eventually. If the dog is hungry, you can feed him, and if you suspect that something more serious is going on, you can take him to the vet.
One other tip that my veterinarian gave me when I asked about Sadie’s deafening borborygmi was that you can give your dog Pepto Bismol to calm her stomach if it gets to be too noisy. This turned out to be a great help! The amount of any medicine you can give depends on the size of the dog, though, so always consult your own vet before trying this remedy.