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Is Your Dog’s Stomach Gurgling and He’s Not Eating? Top Reasons

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vet inspecting dog's stomach

You’ve probably heard it before. Your dog’s stomach is gurgling and rumbling while he’s lying beside you on the floor. There are various reasons for stomach gurgling in canines, and many of them are no cause for concern. But if your dog isn’t eating, there may be more to it.

When dogs lose their appetite, it often means there’s something upsetting their digestion.  Let’s look at the reasons for dog stomach gurgling and not eating and what to do about it.

Why is my dog’s stomach gurgling and won’t eat

dog not eating, next to his food bowl

Normally, digestive gas and air passing through the gut makes gurgling sounds called borborygmi. You’ll probably hear it when your pup is hungry or if he gulps his food and swallows air with dinner. That’s no big deal. 

However, if your dog’s stomach is gurgling and he won’t eat, it probably means he has an upset stomach. There are several causes of digestive disturbances.

1. Intestinal parasites

whipworm microscopic view

The most common parasites in canine digestive tracts are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. A heavy parasite load can give your dog nausea and cause his stomach to gurgle or rumble.

Other symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Stomach gurgling/pain
  • Weight loss and/or lethargy
  • Dull hair coat
  • Pot-bellied appearance.

2. Obstruction

dog with sock in mouth

If your dog ingests a foreign body like a piece of rubber or a sock, it can get stuck in the intestines. When this happens, food won’t move through the system, but air can push past the object and cause gurgling noises. Dogs with intestinal blockages may also have a sudden loss of appetite and appear uncomfortable. Obstructions are medical emergencies that require veterinary care.


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3. Twisted Stomach

In some dogs, gas fills the stomach causing it to flip and trap the gas. This produces loud gurgling noises. If the stomach isn’t untwisted, it blocks off blood flow to other organs. A twisted stomach in dogs is a life-threatening emergency. Signs include depression, anorexia, and abdominal discomfort.

4. Pancreatitis

When a dog has an inflamed pancreas, digestive enzymes start breaking down the pancreatic tissue. The digestive process releases lots of gas which results in loud stomach sounds. 

Symptoms include:

  • vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • stomach pain
  • decreased appetite and/or lethargy
  • fever

5. Stomach or intestine infection (Gastritis/infection)

If the stomach or intestines have a bacterial infection, the microbes can produce extra gas that makes rumbling sounds.

Symptoms:

  • diarrhea,
  • nausea, and loss of appetite. 

6. Inflammatory bowel disease

Dogs with an inflamed bowel will usually experience loss of appetite and abdominal discomfort. The inflammation interferes with normal digestion so dogs may also have diarrhea and vomiting along with stomach gurgling.

7. Liver disease

A healthy liver filters toxins from the bloodstream. But when the liver is diseased, it’s a serious medical condition that requires veterinary attention. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

8. New Food

Some dogs don’t tolerate a sudden change in diet well. As the digestive system adjusts to breaking down different proteins and other ingredients, it may produce extra gas that causes rumbling. Of course, if your pooch doesn’t like the new formula, he may not want to eat it.

Is stomach gurgling normal? What if my dog won’t eat?

Most stomach gurgling in dogs is a normal result of food and gas moving through the digestive tract. It can be more pronounced when the stomach is empty such as first thing in the morning or just before a meal.

If your dog suddenly goes off feed and his stomach is rumbling, he may have an upset stomach. As long as the anorexia is mild and only lasts for a meal or two, it’s probably not a problem But if he doesn’t bounce back or experiences other symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, or depression you should call your vet.

Four things to try at home to help a dog who is not eating & has a gurgling stomach

If your dog isn’t eating and his stomach is gurgling, there may be some things you can try at home to soothe his digestive system. 

  • Switch to a bland diet such as boiled chicken and rice. It’s easier to digest and usually palatable to dogs. 
  • Walk your dog before meals to stimulate his appetite and encourage healthy digestion. Use a slow-feed bowl if your dog is a food gulper to see if slowing down his eating helps reduce gas in the stomach.
  • Feed multiple, small meals to minimize the time the stomach is empty. Smaller portions are easier to digest so they’re less likely to upset the stomach.

If none of these things help your pooch, or if he has vomiting and diarrhea for more than a day or two, contact your vet. 

When should you call your veterinarian?

vet holding a dog and cat

Dogs that stop eating and have a gurgling stomach may have an underlying condition that requires veterinary care but that doesn’t mean you have to call the vet at the first sign of anorexia. It may resolve with a bland diet and time. However, you should call your vet when your dog shows certain signs.

  • Vomiting and diarrhea that lasts more than a few days
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Swollen, painful abdomen
  • Loss of appetite for more than a day or two

What will the vet do if I bring my dog in?

When you take your dog to the vet for stomach gurgling and not eating, be prepared to give a history of your dog’s symptoms, any feeding changes, and how long since your dog has eaten. You should also collect a fresh stool sample and a sample of your dog’s vomit if he’s throwing up. 

Your veterinarian will conduct a physical exam and run diagnostic tests that may include:

  • X-rays or ultrasound
  • Bloodwork
  • Fecal exam 

Depending on the findings, your vet may administer fluids and other supportive care and treat your dog with:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Anti-nausea drugs
  • Antiparasitic drugs
  • Surgery to remove foreign bodies

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Author

  • Dr. Liz Guise, Veterinarian

    Dr. Liz (Elizabeth) Guise graduated from the University of Minnesota with a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (DVM). She worked as a veterinarian for two years before working for the US Department of Agriculture for 13 years.

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Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.

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