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My dog's stomach is gurgling . . .
Spidey1978 posted:
I have a year and half old Bichon-Frise. She had parvo at the age of 6 months but has been fairly healthy over the past year. On Jan. 16, we took her to the vet because the noises her stomach was making woke us up at night. It was a gurgling, squeaking sound as if her stomach was upset. I noticed she had not really been eating or drinking very much. She also woke us up in the middle of the night to let her out. We thought she need to use the restroom but she went out to eat the grass outside. Those were the only symptoms as she was still very playful during the day and was not lethargic at all. She also was having normal bowel movement, going to the restroom. There was no diarrhea or vomiting.

Without blood work, the vet could not tell us anything. Unfortunately, we could not afford bloodwork or medication. We hoped that it was just something she ate and decided to see what happened. I forced some water down her with some syringe for the next couple of days as well as fed her some chicken broth. After a few days, she slowly began to go back to normal and there were no more stomach noises. Around 3:30 a.m. this morning, however, the noises started again. She had us let her out twice to eat grass. This only happens during the wee hours of the morning. The night before she was very playful and running around. We don't understand would this could be since this is her only symptom. As of 11:00 a.m. this morning she did eat a little of her dog food and had some water earlier this morning.

Is there anything you can tell me or suggest?

Thank you. Natalie
Kathy_Snyder_DVM_DACVIM responded:
The signs you describe above are really quite vague, so there are many possibilities as to what is going on. Ultimately, I think you'll have to save up and have your vet perform the bloodwork they recommended. However, there are a few specific things that I'd think about based on what you're telling me:

1. It could just be that your dog has a sensitive stomach and is going to get a slight amount of GI upset every now and then. If so, switching to an easily digestible diet may help decrease the frequency of these episodes. Your vet can make a good diet recommendation if you'd like to try a diet change and see if your dog gets better.

2. There is an endocrine disease we see in young dogs called Addison's disease. This is caused by their bodies not making enough steroid. Typical signs are vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, and often the course of these clinical signs is what we call "waxing and waning". This means they'll feel bad one day, then good the next. You have to have a blood test performed by your veterinarian to diagnose this condition. It's easily treatable and dogs do very well with this disorder--live long and healthy lives. But if it's not treated, it can be life-threatening.

3. There is a condition called bilious vomiting syndrome that occurs rarely in dogs. It usually causes GI upset/vomiting in the early morning hours, as you have described. We suspect this disorder is caused by a motility problem in the GI tract. Treatment consists of feeding a meal just before bedtime (late-night meal or snack) and sometimes medications to help the GI tract move more effectively. So you could also try moving your dog's evening meal to just before bedtime and see if that makes a difference.

Again, there are many, many possibilities. So be sure to visit with your veterinarian if your little lady continues to feel poorly.

Good luck!
Spidey1978 responded:
But she has not vomited or had diarrhea at all, just stomach noises in the early morning off and on for the past week and a half. Could she still have any of the diseases/sicknesses you mentioned without vomiting or diarrhea?

Thank you.
Kathy_Snyder_DVM_DACVIM responded:
Yes. Dogs don't "read the book" when it comes to signs they show or don't show. Some will have only 1 sign while others have 5 signs and both dogs have the same disease. You really need to visit with your vet to get this figured out.

Good luck!
sharondf99 replied to Spidey1978's response:
Hi Spidey,

My dog has done the same thing back in January. I took him to the vet and they found that he has acid reflux which caused an ulcer in his stomach. Bring this up to your vet. I had been looking up the exact same things as you described and could not find an solid answer at all. It is easy to treat, just a diet change and some meds for a couple of weeks. Good luck!
chilipepper54 replied to Spidey1978's response:
Any updates on this? My chihuahua has the exact same symptoms you described. He has been on digestive enzymes with no success.
Jennandpuppy02 replied to chilipepper54's response:

Did you end up finding out what was the issue? I have a Chihuahua as we'll with the same symptoms. She does seem fine with eating, but then again this dog have never refused a piece of any kind of food! It's very strange behavior for her, especially since it's only in the middle of the night. Thanks for your feedback!
Jakecoded1 replied to Jennandpuppy02's response:
Same with my pug. Same exact thing. Right now.
notdaunted responded:
Happened to me loads of times over 40 years of dogs - usually in the middle of the night

Slice of bread and butter - lashings of butter to make it acceptable - start from the middle soft bit until tentatively taken. Do persevere - if you do and the dog eats it - only you will be awake listening to a snoring dog !
nancylporter replied to notdaunted's response:
This usually only happens to my dog once every two or three months and only lasts for the one night. He doesn't have any other symptoms besides being very restless and absolutely will not let me sleep. I usually get up to let him out to go to the bathroom, bring him back in & go back to bed. It's never long until he is pawing at me again. I get up again to see if he needs to go back out & he doesn't want to. His appetite is good & everything else seems normal. He does have a sensitive stomach. I think the slice of bread & butter is worth a try.
jeannie109 replied to Jennandpuppy02's response:
I have a 10 yo female chihuahua that was diagnosed with Addison's disease 3 years ago. She was put on steroids and is generally fine now. But, occasionally she wakes me up with that growling in her stomach. It's just once in a while like twice a month and she doesn't seem to be in distress. I am always worried that it means she might go into crisis which is very scary. I almost lost her twice to Addisonian crisis. She gets fed every morning and evening around 7:30 pm. I am just wondering why the growling occurs, and if it is a sign that she might need her fludrocortisone or prednisone increased that day.


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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