July 04, 2024

What those tummy gurgles actually mean...

What those tummy gurgles actually mean...
Dr. Chris Brown


You know the scene. You’re relaxing on the couch and suddenly that orchestra starts up in the stomach of your bestie.

But the big question is…are those gurgles a tummy upset brewing or are they just hungry?

Well, I thought I’d show you how to decipher those sounds! And save you from that unpleasant surprise on the rug. So here goes…

Can they be normal?

Tummy gurgles actually have a name. They’re officially called borborygmi. That name probably explains why we just call them gurgles! But they can be completely normal. In fact, a (quiet) gut sound every 3 seconds is considered normal ‘digestion’ and is just the stomach emptying or the intestine contracting.

What makes a ‘gut sound’ a more worrying ‘gurgle’?

It’s the fact they’re audible. And more frequent. In fact, without a stethoscope, you probably shouldn’t be able to hear regular stomach sounds.

But what makes them loud is the presence of gas and extra liquid. They amplify the noise. And gas and extra liquid are indicators of a digestive system that’s upset…

So how can you tell a hungry tummy from an upset stomach?

It’s the big question! So look for these key factors…

  • The volume: If it’s loud enough to easily hear it, it’s more likely to be a tummy upset.
  • Time of day: A quiet gurgle around meal time makes a hungry tummy more likely. Any other time of day, think stomach upset.
  • Their behaviour: If they seem relaxed and even hassling you for food, think hunger pains. If they seem on edge, off their food or keen to get outside, think gut upset.
  • The smells: Yes, that gas has consequences! Anything pungent, it’s likely to be the gut upset talking. No smells, think hunger.


Based on what I see at the vet hospital, here are the most common causes of those gurgles…
⁃ Eating too much
⁃ Eating rich, fatty foods
⁃ Drinking from dirty puddles or water bowls
⁃ Viruses
⁃ Diet change


So what can you do?
1. Don't force food on them. Anything else into that upset stomach is only going to cause more diarrhoea and even vomiting. So no food for 24 hours is a great start. And they will handle (and even appreciate) the break from food…
2. Calm their digestive system. After treating thousands of gut upsets, I’ve learned how to quickly bring relief and stop the sloppy stuff. My Tummy Tamer uses kaolin to soothe, activated charcoal to absorb toxins and live probiotics to bring the balance back to their gut bacteria. Having it on hand might just save you from that vet visit.

And it's great for cats too.


The Tummy Tamer
The Tummy Tamer

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