Is Burping in Dogs Normal?
Burping in dogs happens for the same reason that it happens in humans: its main purpose is to expel gas from the digestive tract. However, there are several other dynamics going on in dogs due to different anatomical features and differences in diets.
Burping in Dogs vs. Burping in Humans
In humans, burping is often triggered by the excessive drinking of carbonated beverages such as beer and soda; whereas in dogs, belching is more commonly triggered by eating too fast and swallowing air.
Another big difference is that in humans, excessive air in the stomach may cause pain and excessive burping, whereas in certain predisposed dogs, a stomach filled with gas puts a dog at risk of bloating (a condition wherein the stomach flips on itself like a hammock; this can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition known as "gastric dilatation volvulus").
Of course, not all dogs who burp will end up bloating, but this is something to keep in a corner of the mind, especially in predisposed dogs, such as as those who are large and deep-chested (great Danes, Irish wolfhounds, Dobermans).
Is Burping in Dogs Normal?
There are several potential causes of burping in dogs, and identifying the underlying triggers is important so to reduce its incidence. While an occasional burp in dogs is normal, increased burping and acting sick is often not.
Not All Forms of Burping in Dogs Are Created Equal!
Next time your dog burps, watch carefully what he is doing. Is it just noise and air coming out? Or is your dog burping and then smacking his lips and swallowing afterward? In such a case, you may be looking at a case of regurgitation.
Although some causes of burping may be obvious, some require more in-depth testing to find out what's triggering it. This is just a general guide, so please report to your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
4 Types of Burping in Dogs
- Burping From Eating Too Fast
- Burping From Aging
- Burping and Swallowing Due to Digestive Problems
- Burping From Other Problems
1. Burping From Eating Too Fast
Let's face it: When it comes to eating, dogs are gluttonous creatures by nature. Sure, it is possible to occasionally stumble on a finicky dog, but on average, dogs are blessed with a healthy appetite that at times may even appear voracious (lab owners are surely nodding their heads upon reading this).
Dogs that eat very fast are prone to aerophagia, the medical term used to depict the tendency to ingest excessive air. The behavior of eating fast like there's no tomorrow comes naturally to dogs considering their past evolutionary history.
A dog's ancestors often adhered to a "feast or famine" lifestyle due to the intermittent supply of food. This means that they dealt with times when there was food in abundance followed by lean times when they were starving.
Since back then refrigerators and freezers had yet to be invented, and since a dogs' ancestors were entirely on their own, eating as much as they could in one sitting was the best practice before the vultures would dive in and other opportunistic animals would scavenge the remains.
In a domestic setting, dogs who eat fast are often seen in multi-dog households due to competitive eating behaviors which promote aerophagia, explains Dr. Claudia Kirk, a board-certified veterinarian specializing in internal medicine.
Unfortunately, eating fast can also predispose dogs to bloat. It has been estimated that dogs that eat quickly have a 15 percent higher risk of developing bloat, which is likely related to increased swallowing of air, explains veterinarian Dr. Jerold S. Bell.
If she eats her food very fast or pants a lot, she may be ingesting a lot of air. That is the most common cause of burping in dogs. Usually in these cases, I will put a rubber dog toy in the middle of the food bowl, so she has to slow down to eat around it— Dr. John, veterinarian
2. Burping From Aging
If you have noticed your senior dog burping more, you are not imagining things. As it happens in humans, as dogs age, things tend to slow down and this includes digestion.
For starters, consider the impact of wear and tear on the esophagus (the food tube connecting the throat with the stomach) after years and years of food passing through it. Aging often leads to impaired swallowing reflexes in dogs which causes aerophagia and the subsequent increase in belching and flatulence, explains veterinarian Dr. William D. Fortney.
On top of this, consider that older dogs tend to suffer from several other pitfalls that are associated with aging such as decreased gastrointestinal motility, decreased gastric acid, decreased digestive enzymes and decreased absorptive capacity.
3. Burping and Swallowing Due to Digestive Problems
Is your dog burping and swallowing? Burping in dogs may be a sign of a dog's upset stomach. If your dog is burping and then swallowing, your dog may be showing signs of what's known as "silent regurgitation." There are two forms of regurgitation in dogs: overt regurgitation and silent regurgitation.
Overt regurgitation is regurgitation that dog owners notice because regurgitated material comes out of the dog's mouth. Silent regurgitation, on the other hand, is much more subtle and insidious: the dog burps up stomach contents, but they don't make it out of the mouth. The dog instead swallows them and dog owners may fail to notice.
Excess burping, lip-smacking and burping and swallowing in dogs can be due to heartburn or gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD). In such cases, an H2 blocker like famotidine (Pepcid) may help. There are many other possible digestive disorders that may be affecting your canine companion. Ask your veterinarian for help if you suspect your dog is burping a lot and has silent regurgitation.
4. Burping From Other Problems
And then you have dogs burping due to a variety of underlying disorders that require veterinary attention. Following are just some underlying problems that may contribute to burping in dogs.
Problems With Teeth
Dogs suffering from dental problems or periodontal disease may eat fast and swallow their food, which can predispose them to excessive burping. It's important in this case to have those gums and teeth taken care of.
Problems With the Larynx
Laryngeal paralysis in dogs is now recognized as a "trifecta disorder" affecting the dog's rear legs and esophagus, on top of the larynx. The technical term now is Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy. (GOLPP).
Laryngeal issues are known to cause stridor and respiratory distress. Rear leg issues are known to manifest as weakness, difficulty navigating slippery floors and difficulty rising from lying down. Esophagus issues are manifested as silent or overt regurgitation which can potentially cause aspiration pneumonia, explains Lara Marie Rasmussen, a board-certified veterinary surgeon.
Problems With the Respiratory Tract
Excessive burping can occur secondary to respiratory tract problems. Excess panting may lead to increased ingestion of air. In particular, some dog breeds that have been selectively bred to have certain facial features cause issue when it comes to breathing.
The term brachycephalic is used to depict dogs who have a short and wide skull and distinctive pushed-in face. There are several brachycephalic dog breeds that are quite popular nowadays including boxers, pugs, English bulldogs and many others.
Bulldogs, in particular, are known for having some quite exaggerated brachycephalic traits such as stenotic nares (narrowed nostrils), excessively long soft palates and tracheal hypoplasia (abnormally narrowed windpipe). This predisposes them to Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS).
The Bulldogs' and other brachycephalic dog breed's conformation causes these dogs to swallow a lot of air during inspiratory efforts, leading to a gas-filled stomach and abnormal GI motility, explains veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Rozanski.
Problems With Organ Failure
Increased burping accompanied by vomiting may be suggestive of a decreased motility issue allowing air and food to move back up rather than normally transiting through the gastrointestinal tract.
This can happen as a result of waste building up as it may happen with organ failure, or the presence of a mass in the abdomen or some primary disease process such as inflammatory bowel disease, explains veterinarian Dr. Kara.
Problems With Anxiety
Some dogs prone to being anxious, may be more likely to swallow air and develop burping and stomach problems. In some cases, excess anxiety may even predispose to bloat.
According to veterinarian Dr. Jerold S. Bell, research has revealed that fearful, nervous, or aggressive dogs had a significantly higher incidence of bloat compared to dogs with happy temperaments. Stress has been known to be a precipitating factor, with many dogs developing bloat after being kenneled or after or long car ride.
How to Reduce Excessive Burping Episodes in Dogs
There are several steps that dog owners can take to reduce the instances of excessive burping in dogs. Of course, the first step is seeing the vet so to rule out any underlying disorders and treating them accordingly. Veterinarians Stephen J. Ettinger and Edward C. Feldman in the book "Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine" claim that aerophagia in dogs can be reduced by:
- Avoiding situations that may cause nervousness in the dog
- Discouraging rapid eating
- Reducing competitive eating among dogs in the household
- Feeding several meals a day
- Exercising the dog to stimulate motility and defecation
- Consulting with the vet for possible pharmacological intervention
As seen, burping in dogs can be caused by a variety of problems. If your dog is burping, check with your vet to have things sorted out and resolved accordingly. If your dog is burping and acting sick, play it safe and see your vet or emergency center soon than later.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2019 Adrienne Farricelli