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Why is my dog’s stomach making noises? A vet's guide

dog's stomach making noises
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Have you noticed your dog's stomach making noises? If your canine companion's stomach has been gurgling or rumbling, you might feel concerned, especially if they are off their food or have other symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. A little bit of gurgling or rumbling is very normal; it’s the sound of normal digestion. 

However, there are a few reasons why your dog’s stomach might be making particularly frequent or loud noises, known scientifically as borborygmi. Your first instinct is likely to consider what your dog has eaten recently, including whether you've fed them too many dog treats or whether they're eating good quality dog food that meets their particular nutritional requirements. 

Sometimes, the time of day, their behavior, or any other symptoms they have can help you work out what’s going on. So, when might you notice your dog’s stomach making noises? And what does it mean?

Why is my dog’s stomach gurgling? 

At night

Night-time is usually the longest stretch that your dog goes without food, leading to a build-up of stomach acid and, sometimes, nausea. If you notice your dog’s stomach gurgling at night, it might mean that the acid is building up in their stomach. 

You might notice that your dog often vomits early in the morning, before their breakfast. Sometimes, you can combat this by splitting your dog’s meals throughout the day and feeding them a small amount just before bed, so their stomach isn’t completely empty for so long. 

It’s also worth considering whether your dog has just had a big meal or something out of the ordinary to eat. If their routine has changed, then you might expect to hear gut sounds at a time when you wouldn’t usually. However, noisy digestion and gas can also signify other health issues. 

dog sleeping with eyes open

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After eating grass

It’s not one hundred per cent understood why dogs eat grass. However, it’s thought that they sometimes take a liking to the lawn if they have an upset stomach. Feelings of nausea or indigestion might be calmed by eating grass or, failing that, it might help them vomit, after which they may feel better. Not all grass eating is a sign of a gut upset, though; it can just be a habit, and it’s often harmless.

Grass is challenging for your dog to digest, so large amounts can occasionally cause irritation or a blockage in their stomach or intestine.

Accompanied by vomiting

If you can hear lots of gurgling from your poorly pooch’s stomach and they’re also vomiting, it could be a sign that their stomach or intestines are inflamed or that they have an infection. It could also be due to a gastric infection, a change in diet, or because they’ve scavenged something that they shouldn’t have! 

Jack Russell eating grass

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Accompanied by diarrhea

If your dog has an upset tummy, they might have diarrhea too. This might be alongside vomiting or on its own. The gurgling noises that you hear are gas and fluid moving around within the intestines, and your dog might seem uncomfortable if they’re experiencing cramping or gut spasms.

Accompanied by not eating 

Just like we don’t fancy eating when we have gas, nausea, indigestion, or other unpleasant gut symptoms, dogs often go off their food too. You might find it strange if your usually greedy dog turns their nose up at their usual grub when their only symptom is a bit of a noisy stomach.

However, this stomach noise could indicate that they feel sick, bloated, or even in pain, so it’s not surprising if they don’t want to eat. If your dog isn’t eating and you’re not sure what’s wrong, you can find out what to do here

Sick dog lying on the couch

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What could be causing my dog’s stomach to gurgle? 

Although there are many possible causes of gut noise, this list gives you some of the main ones: 

  • Dietary indiscretion  If your dog eats something they shouldn’t while out on a walk, in the garden, or around the house, it could irritate their stomach. 
  •  A change in diet  If you decide to change your dog’s food, you should always do it gradually. Otherwise, a sudden change in diet can be a shock for your dog’s guts and can lead to gas or an upset stomach. 
  • Too many treats  By the same token, if you give your dog too many treats or titbits that are particularly rich or fatty, you might cause them some unpleasant gut symptoms. 
  • Pancreatitis  Fatty foods can sometimes cause a little more than your standard bout of vomiting and diarrhea; they can prompt a condition called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is when the pancreas gland becomes inflamed, and it causes severe pain and vomiting.
  • Parasites  If your poor pooch is infested with gut parasites, like worms, this could cause their intestines to become irritated, as well as sometimes interfering with the passage of poop through the gut.  
  • Normal digestion  It’s important to remember that it’s normal for your dog’s stomach and intestine to make some noise during digestion. So, if they’re eating and drinking normally and have no other symptoms, you probably don’t need to worry. 

Should I be concerned if my dog's stomach is making noises? 

If your dog’s stomach is making noises, but they’re eating normally and are otherwise well, it’s probably normal for them. After every meal, your dog will have plenty of digesting to do, and sometimes you might be able to hear the gurgling sounds. 

On the other hand, if your dog isn’t eating or has other symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, you should consider seeing a veterinarian. 

dog sick

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What can I give my dog for a gurgling stomach? 

If your dog has a gurgling stomach but doesn’t seem unwell and is eating normally, you don’t need to give them anything. On the other hand, if they are off their food, vomiting, or passing diarrhea, you could feed them a bland diet of chicken and rice, scrambled egg, plain pasta, or white fish for a few days. 

You could also try spacing out their meals so that they don’t have an empty stomach for too long. However, if your dog’s symptoms are severe, or if they seem to be in pain, you shouldn’t try to help them at home – it’s best to get help from a veterinarian.

When to visit the vet 

Some gurgling from your dog’s stomach during digestion is absolutely normal. However, if your dog is acting unwell, seems to be in any particular pain, or you are worried, it’s best to get them checked over by a veterinarian as soon as possible. 

If their symptoms are mild, you can feed them bland food for one or two days to see if that helps. If they don’t improve in that time, it’s best to book an appointment with the veterinarian.  

Conclusion

Stomach gurgling is a vague symptom, and it can be hard to know whether you need to be worried about your canine companion. There are many reasons why your dog might be making more digestive noises, and many are mild or temporary. As always, though, if you’re concerned that you have a poorly pooch, it’s best to take them to the veterinarian for a check-up. 

Dr Hannah Godfrey is a small animal vet with a love of dentistry and soft tissue surgery. She lives in Wales with her partner, son, and their two cats.