This article was updated on October 24th, 2023
There are various reasons for stomach gurgling in dogs, and many of them are no cause for concern. But if your dog is also NOT eating, it often means there’s something upsetting their digestion. In this article, we’ll discuss what you can do to help your dog and when to call your vet. Look out for special tips throughout this article from our veterinarians Dr. Liz Guise and Dr. Jamie Whittenburg.
Is there something wrong with my dog?
“If your dog suddenly goes off feed and their stomach is gurgling or rumbling, they may have an upset stomach. As long as the appetite loss only lasts for a meal or two, and your dog is not showing other signs of illness, it’s probably not a problem and you can start with the tips below.”
Veterinarian at SeniorTailWaggers.com
Tips to help a dog with a gurgling stomach who missed a meal (without other signs of sickness):
1. Switch to a bland diet such as boiled chicken (or lean ground beef) and rice. It’s easier to digest and usually palatable to dogs.
2. Walk your dog before meals to stimulate their appetite and encourage healthy digestion. Exercise stimulates smooth muscle contractions which promote gastrointestinal motility.
3. Use a slow-feed bowl if your dog is a food gulper. When dogs gulp their food, they usually swallow air along with the meal. Once your dog starts eating again, slowing down their eating may help reduce gas in the stomach.
4. Feed multiple, small meals. This will help minimize the time the stomach is empty. Smaller portions are easier to digest, so they’re less likely to upset the stomach.
5. Don’t panic. Dog appetites can vary just like humans, and it’s not unusual to skip a meal on occasion. Most dogs can live without eating for 3-5 days depending on their size, age, and health. Make sure that your furbaby has access to water. If your dog still isn’t eating after 1-2 days or refuses to drink, give your vet a call.
6. Add food toppers: Use flavor enhancers like gravies, sodium-free bone broth, or food toppers to make the food more appealing. Sometimes all you need to do is prime to pump to get your dog eating again.
7. Switch to wet food: Try mixing some canned food with your dog’s kibble, or feed all canned food. Your pooch may need a change in texture, and the canned food helps to keep him hydrated.
8. Add a treat: Try adding some lean, boiled and shredded chicken to your dog’s food to encourage eating.
9. Warm the food: Add some warm water or heat your dog’s food in the microwave for a few seconds. Check the temperature of the food on the back of your hand before offering it to Fido to avoid burning his tongue. Heated food often has a stronger aroma which may encourage your furbaby to eat.
When should I worry about my dog’s stomach gurgling and loss of appetite?
“Call your vet if your dog hasn’t bounced back after 24 hours or shows signs of illness like diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness, or depression. There could be a medical condition causing the stomach gurgling and loss of appetite, and some conditions might be emergencies.”
Veterinarian at SeniorTailWaggers.com
Call your vet within 24 hours if you also see these symptoms:
- Diarrhea that lasts more than 2 days
- Multiple episodes of vomiting
- Lethargy and weakness
- Swollen, painful abdomen
- Loss of appetite for more than a day
- Other signs of illness
An immediate vet visit is needed if your dog also:
- Appears uncomfortable or restless
- Might have eaten an object (like a sock)
- Has a distended abdomen
- Is drooling or retching to try to vomit
It’s really important to understand the potential reason behind your dog’s belly gurgling and loss of appetite. Let’s have a look at the most likely reasons.
Most likely reasons causing belly gurgling and loss of appetite
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. That’s no big deal.
However, if your dog’s stomach/belly/tummy is gurgling and they won’t eat, it probably means they have an upset stomach due to one of the following reasons:
1. Intestinal parasites
Studies show that as many as 1 in 10 dogs has roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, or whipworms. How do you know if your dog has worms?
- Worms can cause nausea, loss of appetite, and stomach gurgling.
- You may also see worms in your dog’s stool.
- Dogs with worms may also experience diarrhea and/or vomiting, weight loss, lethargy, scooting and chewing at their hind end, or a pot bellied appearance.
Learn more about Worms in Dogs (Symptoms & Treatments).
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 belly noises.
Dogs with intestinal blockages may also have a sudden loss of appetite and appear uncomfortable.
“Obstructions are medical emergencies that require veterinary care. If you think your dog might have eaten something they should not have, call your vet right away. Just because a dog is passing stool DOES NOT mean they don’t have an obstruction.”
Veterinarian Director at SeniorTailWaggers.com
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3. Twisted stomach (GDV)
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 quickly, it blocks off blood flow to other organs. A twisted stomach is a life-threatening emergency.
- An abdomen getting visibly larger
- Restlessness and pacing: the dog is in a lot of pain and cannot stay still
- Retching and attempted vomiting
- Excessive drooling
If your dog is showing any of these signs, view our Bloat Timeline and call your emergency veterinarian.
When a dog has an inflamed pancreas, digestive enzymes begin breaking down the pancreatic tissue. The digestive process releases lots of gas, which results in loud stomach or tummy sounds.
Signs of pancreatitis include:
- Decreased appetite
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Stomach pain
Diagnosis of pancreatitis can be challenging due to the lack of clear specific symptoms; many of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions (including loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea).
Learn more about Pancreatitis.
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 in your dog’s belly.
If your dog suddenly starts vomiting and loses appetite after you observe them eating something they shouldn’t (such as a sock, garbage, or mulch), the stomach gurgling is likely caused by gastritis. Other symptoms may include fever, lethargy, pain, and vomit that contains blood, bile, or froth.
Learn more about Gastritis.
6. Inflammatory bowel disease
Dogs with an inflamed bowel will usually experience loss of appetite, a gurgling stomach, and abdominal discomfort. The inflammation interferes with normal digestion, so dogs may also have diarrhea and vomiting.
Learn more about IBD in Dogs.
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.
If your dog has stomach gurgling that’s accompanied by loss of appetite and jaundice (yellow tint to the skin), vomiting, and increased thirst, there’s a good chance they have liver disease.
Learn more about Liver Disease.
8. New food
Some dogs don’t tolerate a sudden change in diet. A digestive system adjusting to new proteins and ingredients may produce extra gas that causes rumbling. Of course, if your pooch doesn’t like the new formula, they may not want to eat it.
Veterinarian Tip: When changing your dog’s food, start by mixing 1/3 of the new food with 2/3 of the old, for 3-5 days, then feed 1/2 of each for 3-5 days, and then 2/3 new food and 1/3 old food for 3-5 days, before switching completely.
What will the vet do if I take 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 they’re throwing up.
Your veterinarian will conduct a physical exam and run diagnostic tests that may include:
- X-rays or ultrasound
- Fecal exam
Depending on the findings, your vet may administer fluids and other supportive care and treat your dog with:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Anti-nausea drugs
- Antiparasitic drugs
- Surgery to remove foreign bodies
Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.