Author: Ruth Darlene Stewart-Chairperson National Beagle Club Health and Genetics Committee

This grouping of symptoms that I have personally labeled "Beagle Colic"  seems to affected an ever increasing number of beagles.  I named it "Beagle Colic" as it reminds of colic in a horse.  Some of the symptoms are : bloating, eating large quantities of grass, licking everything in sight; especially feet, vomiting, belching, stretching, rolling in pain, crying out in pain, drinking large quantities of water and having a tight abdomen.  Many owners report "burping" their beagle seems to help.

Not all beagle have all symptoms but there seems to be a common "licking pattern".  They will lick wall, rugs, themselves, everything is a panic type state.  Some beagles will ingest foreign objects during this period, like rugs, socks, and other fiber type material.  Close attention should be given to any beagle that does ingest foreign material.  If the fibers are not vomited  up or do not pass through the gut completely;  they can cause intestinal complications that can be life threatening.   There is one case where some fibers were passed;  but others adhered to the intestinal wall.  Massive infection occurred and the beagle could not be saved.

Food seems to be a trigger in most.  Usually the problem starts 30-60 minutes after a meal....but not always.  Studies on beagles with this problem have not shown conclusively any abnormality but some common suspected problems are:

In 2011 this article was sent to me. Epliepsy...Lickies It discusses two dogs (not beagles) with very similar problems and they diagnosis was a form of epilepsy. This is a very interesting theory. I have gotten a report of two beagles with this that did indeed have grand mal seizure in addition to these other symptoms. If you have a beagle with these symptoms please contact me as more information and case studies are needed.

My beagle would present with frantic licking, eating large amounts of grass, drinking water, rolling on floor, panting, burping and crying out with apparent GI spasm type pain. When it first occurred she was under two years of age and I thought "BLOAT".   A quick trip to the vet and GI distress was diagnosed but not bloat.  Over the next few years we ran extensive tests including multiple lab tests, x-rays, GI series, Barium series and  various food trials.  An exact cause of her sporadic episodes was never found.   Placing her over my shoulder and "burping" her like a baby did help; as well as massage of her tight abdomen.

Ultimately all beef, soy, and wheat was eliminated from her diet.   Her food is soaked in water and is of a soft meal type.  She gets three small meals per day instead of one normal size meal.  This has greatly reduced her episodes but they have not been totally eliminated.  She is nine now and doing well.  It has been almost 6 months since her last episode and I believe that was triggered by my husband sneaking her a couple pieces of steak--again the beef connection.

Here are comments from other owners of beagles with similar symptoms.

I have a 12 year old that licks when her tummy is upset. Here's a few things that have helped: she gets a Tums every morning with breakfast :-) She gets no dairy - yogurt seems to trigger the licking for her; I keep her busy & exercised, sometimes its like she needs a hobby (saw more licking when I was preoccupied with puppies last fall) When she starts to lick obsessively, she gets a GasX - the licking blows up their tummies with all that air in there (my vet suggested the GasX) I also interrupt licking and give her something else to do. Also other people have seen a link between liver problems & the licking, so while her liver values are normal, I still give her milk thistle a few times/week 'just in case'. They might also look at changing foods. I feed raw & sometimes if the meat isn't totally thawed or the pieces are hard for her to chew, it seems to make it worse. Last summer she licked up 50 feet of carpet fibers - luckily they came out 36 hours later on their own (threw up) but that could have been a catastrophe. Besides which the licking is really annoying :->

We have three that will do this. I will never forget that the first time that I experienced it. She was 9 months old and was just licking up a storm and then wanted to eat grass. I thought I was experiencing bloat! I rushed her into the emergency clinic (after hours of course) and they did x-rays, umpteen blood tests and all came back normal. It's an upset stomach. We've given antacid tablets or pepto bismol which work well, but doesn't totally help all the time. If they can get enough grass, and then vomit, it seems to help. I'll never forget another instance too, whereby I gave a cherry flavored Rolaids...and well, about an hour later, she through up, and of course I panicked because I thought she threw up blood. I realized at the Emergency Clinic (after hours, yet again), what it was and then felt a little embarrassed! But, when it comes to the dogs, I would rather be safe than sorry! I've also been given Sulcrate Suspension Plus by the vet which also helps. I haven't tried GAS X though? How much of that do you give? I couldn't agree more with the licking being annoying! They seem to just totally focus on the licking and are oblivious to anything else. My very first one, I can actually now get her to stop by just sitting with her and rubbing her tummy and talking calmly to her. Sometimes too, I wonder if stress of some sort triggers it?

Mine don't do the rolling thing. I sometimes have to burp them myself by gently massaging their sides...air comes out of both ends. I used to think this was from eating frozen pooh! My girl tends to do this in the winter. The other two who live with my friend and are her dogs...are the same. More so during the winter months. I know it's not the pooh. What is interesting with these three dogs...I have to wonder if it's a somehow inherited trait. All three are from a certain others who are not related at all, have never licked. The offspring of the one bitch has not passed it on to her children...thank doG!! It's most annoying! With my one friends bitch, if she cuddles her in a blanket and sits with her, she'll stop. It's almost like a compulsive behavior or something! This is when I wish I was a genetic expert!!! :0)

But I'd have to describe our beagle as being more bloated, almost like she is due to whelp.  Huge.  And she is more anxious ...and walks and walks and walks, pants heavily till her tongue and mucus membranes are bright red.    And eats everything she can find, massive amounts of grass, hair, even had her eat lint from the dryer once. Once whatever it is stops, she then throws up massive amounts of water mixed with all that she has eaten.  Curiously she never has thrown up her dinner, always the other stuff she has eaten.

She seems to know when an episode is starting..she will hide in her crate and link the walls and floor constantly.  She licks her feet also.  I have seen an association with feeding and an episode.  Usually one will start shortly after the evening meal.  She eats lots of grass during one and will pace when not in crate.  She seems very anxious and painful.