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What are Stomach Making Noises?

It is normal for a dog’s stomach to sometimes make gurgling and rumbling noises.  The noises are usually caused by gas moving through the digestive system.  The medical term for gas moving within the intestines is called borborygmus. Usually borborygmus is not audible, unless you place your ear against your dog’s stomach. If your dog is having frequent, loud noises coming from within his stomach it could be a sign of a serious condition.  Additional symptoms to watch out for include vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, lethargy, fever and diarrhea.

A noisy stomach may be caused by:

  • Intestinal parasites
  • Hunger
  • Swallowing air
  • Pancreatitis
  • Foreign object in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

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Why Stomach Making Noises Occurs in Dogs

Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites can make dogs very sick. Some intestinal parasites can also be transmitted to people. Intestinal parasites can be a very serious problem in puppies (causing poor growth and development). Common intestinal parasites include hookworms, roundworms, tapeworm, coccidia and giardia. Intestinal parasites can cause a swollen abdomen, vomiting, diarrhea, failure to absorb nutrients, emaciation, intestinal obstruction and lethargy.

Hunger

Hunger may be causing the gurgling and rumbling in your dog’s stomach. Hunger pain noises are more common prior to breakfast or before dinner. Many veterinarians suggest 2 or 3 smaller meals instead of one meal. An empty stomach can cause your dog to vomit bile.  An empty stomach and bile cycle is called bilious vomiting syndrome.

Swallowing Air

If your dog hurriedly consumes his meals, he may be swallowing a lot of air along with his food. The excess air in the intestines will cause a noisy stomach.  Not only can eating too fast cause a noisy stomach, it can also cause choking, stomach discomfort, flatulence and vomiting. Some researchers believe that swallowing excess air while eating can also lead to gastric dilatation-volvulus (bloat). Bloat in dogs is a life-threatening condition. 

Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a gland that produces digestive enzymes and hormones.  If too many digestive enzymes are produced, they can start breaking down the dog’s pancreas. Inflammation of the pancreas can be caused by a high-fat diet, obesity, trauma, genetic predisposition, diabetes, medications, and hypothyroidism.  Additional symptoms may include repeated vomiting, pain, distended abdomen, loss of appetite, dehydration, fever and weakness.

Foreign Object

If your dog swallowed a foreign object (rock, toy, plastic, stick, fabric) it will cause a painful blockage in the digestive tract.  Additional symptoms may include gagging, vomiting, not eating, constipation, and lethargy. An intestinal blockage can lead to necrosis of the intestinal tissue and/or a perforation of the intestinal walls.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is the inflammation of digestive tract. The digestive tract inflammation may be caused by genetics, diet, infectious agents, and immune system abnormalities. Your dog may have mucus in the stool, loose bowel movements, anorexia, depression and vomiting.

What to do if your Dog is Stomach Making Noises

If your dog is frequently having a noisy stomach which is accompanied by other symptoms, he should be seen by a veterinarian.  A veterinarian will want to know your dog’s medical history, details of the symptoms and the timeline of when they started. The veterinarian will perform a physical examination on your dog which may include taking his weight, temperature and heart rate, and palpitation of his abdomen. He may recommend a complete blood count, serum chemistry panel, abdominal x-rays, urinalysis and a fecal exam. 

Internal parasites are treated with deworming medication, followed by a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of your dog’s bedding and toys. Also recommended is a complete cleanup of feces from your yard. A foreign object in the intestinal tract may need to be surgically removed. Mild cases of pancreatitis in dogs are usually treated with a low-fat diet and pancreatic enzyme supplementation. IBD in dogs may be treated with a change in diet, immunosuppressants, antibiotics and corticosteroid medications. 

Prevention of Stomach Making Noises

Intestinal parasites can be prevented by having your dog on a deworming medication treatment plan. Frequent, smaller meals can help prevent hunger pains and bilious vomiting syndrome. It is best not feed your dog fatty table scraps, which may trigger pancreatitis. If your dog is eating too fast and you have other pets, it is best to feed them separately.  This way he can be more relaxed, not worrying that the other dog is going to eat his food.  Feeding your dog small meals 2 to 3 times a day may help his hunger pains and his anxiety.  There are special “slow feeder” bowls available in stores.  An inexpensive bundt cake pan or a flipped over dog bowl can be made into a “slow feeder” for your dog.

Cost of Stomach Making Noises

The treatment of an intestinal parasite such as hookworm may range from $200 to $300.  The cost of treating pancreatitis, which can mean continued monitoring by your veterinary caregiver, can be $2200.