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Why dog hiccups happen +prevention [2023]

You see your dog spasm his little furry body, and you think he must be choking! He does it again, and again… and again. Ahhh, dog hiccups!

dog hiccups

Yes, dogs get hiccups, and it is a lot more common than you think. Dogs and puppy hiccups can occasionally happen without any cause for concern. However, it can be uncomfortable for your furry friend and for you to watch.

Let us learn about the occasional bout of hiccups and how you can make your dog more comfortable when they are suffering from the hiccups.

Why Does My Dog Get Hiccups?

Dog hiccups occur when there is a spasm in the diaphragm of your dog, just like in humans. It is the spasm that causes the ‘hic’ and then ‘up’ sound when dogs hiccup.

What exactly causes your dog to get hiccups?

A diaphragm is dome-shaped, and it contracts and moves down when dogs breathe and then expands when dogs exhale. The glottis, the opening between your dog’s vocal cords, will close quickly, causing the sound you hear when your dog hiccups.

The theory of why dogs get hiccups are many but below are thought to be the main causes:

Leftover from Utero – One theory is that the hiccupping spasm is something dogs are stuck with from when they were babies in their mother’s womb. It has been documented many times that mammal babies hiccup in the womb. Hiccuping in the womb could be how breathing muscles are test-driven before birth.

Excess Air – Another theory is that your dog takes in too much air, causing hiccups. This could be especially true for puppies and dogs who eat too quickly or drink water too fast.

To Relieve Gas – Another theory is that hiccups are your dog’s way to relieve gas from indigestion.

Emotional Stress – Sometimes, stress may trigger hiccups. Researchers claim that hiccups may occur due to the excitement or emotional stress that your dog is going through.

Foreign Bodies – If you suspect that your dog is hiccupping because they have swallowed a foreign body or has eaten something poisonous, it is best to get emergency advice fast. Only a vet can examine your pet to ensure nothing is lodged in their throat.

Spicy Food – Pet owners can testify that when their pet eats spicy food, sometimes they may get occasional hiccups. Spicy food can also cause your dog to drink water too quickly and activate neuron activity in the diaphragm, causing your dog to hiccup, which means that the diaphragm spasms in your dog’s chest cavity, causing hiccups.

Whatever the reason, you do not like to see your dog uncomfortable while hiccupping. Read on to learn what that hiccup looks and sounds like and what you can do to provide relief fast.

dog hiccups sleeping

What do Hiccups Sound and Look Like in Dogs?

Hiccups may seem alarming to a new pet owner when it first happens. So let us look at what dog hiccups sound and look like so that the next time it happens, you will know what to look out for.

What Do Dog Hiccups Sound Like?

They sound like their name—a small sound like ‘hic.’ Think human hiccups. Your dog should not be coughing or sneezing while they are hiccupping.

If they are, that can be a sign of something more serious. More on that, in the sections below, check out this adorable video of puppy hiccups.

The video is a great way to compare the hiccups that your dog is making so you get an idea of what they sound like.

What Do Dog Hiccups Look Like?

What do dog hiccups look like? If you see your dog making that sound and a slight jerk, it is nothing to be alarmed about.

If you have ever had hiccups yourself, you should be able to recognize that they are suffering from a bout of hiccups.

dog hiccups jerk

Hiccups vs. Reverse Sneezing

Reverse Sneezing or paroxysmal inspiratory respiration is a condition common in dogs. As the name states, the air is pushed out of the nose violently and rapidly when sneezing. On the other hand, in reverse sneezing, the air is pulled in rapidly.

It may occur in canines due to a muscle spasm caused by an irritation in the throat, sinuses, and nose. Overall, just like dog hiccups, reverse sneezing in dogs is harmless.

The reverse sneeze sounds like a snort and may last for several seconds.

Hiccups in Sleeping Dogs

It is not rare to find a sleeping dog suffering from hiccups. You may think this only happens when dogs are alert and awake.

This is much more common in puppies than dogs and is less of a concern, just very adorable.

Dogs or puppies hiccup in their sleep because of involuntary diaphragmatic contractions, i.e., the dog’s diaphragm contracts. Usually, the diaphragm moves smoothly, but sometimes external factors can cause it to become irregular.

Reasons for your dog to hiccup when sleeping:

Excess Fatigue – Sometimes, your dog may over-exert themselves during their playtime session, and they are very tired when they go to sleep.

Stress – You may not realize it, but stress is something that can also cause hiccups in your dog. Dogs become stressed when they are scared, anxious, frustrated, and bored.

Overeating – Your dog could also eat too much before their nap, and this could cause hiccups.

Dreaming – The last most common reason for dogs to hiccup in their sleep is dreams. During the REM cycle, dogs sometimes go into a deep sleep and breath more heavily, irritating their diaphragm.

Do you need to be worried about your dog when it is hiccupping in la-la land? No, do not awake your dog. It is something that will pass, and there is no reason to worry or disturb them.

The only caveat is if your dog has been asleep for hours and is constantly hiccupping. You can wake them just to calm them down and relax them. It may be that during their sleep, they have become over-excited.

If this is the case, just awaken them slowly and take them in your arms. Then, give them a back rub while talking to them in low tones. This will calm them down to become more relaxed and stop the hiccups.

dog hiccups puppy

Puppies and Hiccups

Just like dogs get hiccups, puppies do too!

In fact, puppies are more prone to hiccups than adult dogs. There are many reasons for this. Puppies get overly excited, and sometimes they can overeat and drink water too much.

Hiccups happen in puppies, from newborns to 4-month-year-old puppies. Commonly puppies have hiccups that can occur until they are 6 months old. This should not be a cause for concern.

Puppies also suck too much air, which can cause hiccups. Another theory is that puppies’ muscles are weak, and their bodies are not mature.

This can lead to muscle contractions which can cause hiccups. It is normal for puppies to hiccup daily even and is not a cause for concern.

The only time it is a cause for concern is combined with other symptoms.

Can Hiccups Be a Cause of Worms in Puppies?

In some rare cases, hiccups can signify worms in puppies. For example, heartworms and roundworms can affect a dog’s breathing which could potentially cause hiccups.

The larvae of roundworms can enter the lungs and settle there until they reach adulthood. This could cause breathing problems.

If your puppy shows signs of vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, or weight loss, you need to visit the vet to rule out parasites like roundworms and heartworms.

How Long Do Dog Hiccups Last?

After identifying that your dog has hiccups, you probably want to know how long they should last? And are hiccups for dogs bad?

No hiccups are not bad for dogs, as long as they are not for a long period and are associated with other concerning symptoms.

dog hiccups anesthesia

Hiccups can last for a few minutes up to an hour.

There are a few general guidelines we can follow for puppies and dogs regarding the duration of hiccups.

Hiccups usually last from 10-15 minutes to an hour; if they last an hour, that is rare and could cause concern.

If your dog’s hiccups last more than an hour and go for as long as two hours, you may want to call your vet to check up on your dog’s health.

If the episodes come and go and occur over several days, this could indicate a more serious underlying condition. If your dog is experiencing other symptoms along with the hiccups, it may be a cause for concern.

Let us learn what these symptoms are:

When You Should Worry about Dog Hiccups

When are your dog’s hiccups something you should worry about?

Normal hiccups are not a cause for worry, but if some other symptoms accompany the hiccups, then you best call the vet.

Causes for Concern

  • If your dog’s hiccups last more than a few hours
  • Your dog seems to be in pain
  • Your dog has stopped eating and drinking
  • Your dog is drooling excessively
  • Your dog starts to vomit
  • Your dog’s hiccups turn to wheezing
  • Your dog is having difficulty breathing
  • There is a noticeable change in your dog’s breathing pattern

If your dog has hiccups and starts developing any of the above symptoms, you need to call your vet immediately.

In some cases, hiccups could be an indication of different health conditions. These conditions include:

  • Asthma/Respiratory Issues
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart Problems
  • Heatstroke
  • Diseases of the liver
  • Damage to the phrenic or vagus nerves
  • Neurological conditions like meningitis and encephalitis
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Foreign Body Ingestion
  • Nausea Upset Stomach

Vomiting and Hiccups

If your dog has hiccups and starts vomiting, you should not feed your dog for 12-24 hours. Instead, you should give your dog’s stomach time to heal; they shouldn’t be fed solids, and you should give only water in small amounts.

After the fasting time has been completed, you can give your bland dog food in small amounts while observing how they can digest it. A bland diet includes:

  • Boiled Rice
  • Boiled Potatoes
  • Boiled Chicken

If you do not have these items on hand in your kitchen, you can also decrease the amount of dog food you are giving so that your dog’s digestive system can heal.

In addition to fasting and introducing a bland diet, take the following steps if your dog develops diarrhea:

  • Over the counter medicines for dogs that treat diarrhea
  • Rice water that has been prepared by boiling rice and separating grain from water
  • Pumpkin puree in the form of 100% pumpkin puree in cans or canned pumpkin for dogs
  • Plain yogurt
  • Probiotics
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Herbs like fennel can soothe the gut

If your dog’s physical situation does not improve and they start to develop gooey white saliva, pacing, abdominal pain, or if the vomiting does not stop, you need to call your vet immediately.

Hiccup like Response in Dogs under Anesthesia

If your dog has been under general anesthesia, it may develop continuous hiccups in some rare cases. For example, there have been case studies where dogs under Isoflurane anesthesia develop hiccups during the procedure and even after the anesthesia was stopped.

It is estimated that 1 in 100,000 animals will react to anesthesia. So there is a possibility that your dog might develop a condition due to the anesthesia.

In this particular case, an eight-year-old Golden Retriever weighing 24 kg developed chronic hiccups after a surgical procedure involving Isoflurane anesthesia.

The dog did not respond well to the anesthesia, and hiccups continued during the procedure after several different attempts to stop them, even after discontinuing the anesthesia.

The hiccups did not stop after deepening anesthesia. Still, it was later found that probably Neuromuscular blocking agents would have been more suitable for stopping the hiccups during surgery.

It was concluded that acute hiccups could occur in humans and dogs during anesthesia. Although many methods have been proposed to treat it, at the moment, there is not any single effective treatment.

How to Get Rid of Dog Hiccups

When trying to handle your dog’s hiccups right away, there are three things you can do ASAP that can help give your dog some relief. The basic thing to remember is that you want to alter the rate of respiration of your dog so that their hiccups will stop.

Try The Following:

  1. Calm irregular breathing – You can help relieve hiccups by having your dog lie on its back and rub its tummy. This will relax them and may help relieve the hiccups.
  2. Drink water – You can give your dog some water to try and calm down their digestive system. They should be given small sips and instructed to drink slowly.
  3. Smaller Portions – You can give your dog smaller portions at dinner time so that they are not overeating. Sometimes overeating can cause hiccups.

Do NOT Do This:

  1. Do not offer food or water to your dog while they are lying on their back because they can breathe in the food or water into their lungs which is dangerous.
  2. Do not give large amounts of food to your dog when they have hiccups, as this can also lead to breathing in food to their lungs while they are having hiccups.
  3. Do not give hard food that your dog might choke on while having hiccups. Offer soft food instead.

If these tips do not work, then here are some alternative tips you can try:

  • Mix honey, Karo syrup, maple syrup, or peanut butter with a small amount of room temperature water
  • Massage your dog’s throat
  • Go for a walk as exercise can regulate breathing
  • Distract your dog with a game or fun activity
  • Talk slowly and calmly to your dog to decrease any stress they may be feeling

Other Remedies for your Dog Hiccups

In addition to the above remedies, you can try a few tried and tested strategies that pet owners have used to treat hiccups.

Like all remedies, if you are not sure if it is safe for your dog, you should always consult your vet.

Milk – If you think that your dog’s hiccups are caused by spicy food, you can try giving some milk to your dog. The milk will calm your dog’s stomach lining and may help relieve some acidity that is causing the hiccups.

Rice, Grains & Bread – If you can, try giving your dog rice, grains, and bread. These foods all swell in the stomach cavity while being digested. This can cause enlargement and cause pressure on the diaphragm, which can help relieve hiccups.

Get a Slow-Feeder Dog Bowl – Getting a slow-feeder dog bowl can also help your dog decrease the pace of consuming food. The slow feeder bowl is a great idea for those dogs who eat too fast and then have hiccups.

How Can I Prevent Hiccups in My Dog?

After learning what causes hiccups and what you can offer your dog to stop them, let us look at how to prevent them. Here are some great ways to slow down mealtime and provide some relaxing and stress-free time for your dog.

Less Food, More Often

Try decreasing the size of your dog’s food portions and offer them more often. Unfortunately, the most common cause of hiccups in dogs is eating too much food too fast.

You can only control that if you control the amount of food intake. For example, slow feeder bowls, Snuffle Mats, and Puzzle toys are also great ways to decrease how your dog eats their food.

Change the Type of Food

If you think that the kind of food you are feeding your dog could be why your dog’s hiccups, you should change that. Sometimes spicy food can cause hiccups in dogs, so it is always a good idea not to offer your dog any leftover Indian curry.

Food made for dogs usually should not cause any digestive issues. Still, your dog may have a special dietary issue, so it is always good to consult your vet.

Puzzle Toys

These interactive toys help to engage and interest dogs in using their mental skills to solve puzzles for food. It will slow down mealtime, but it will engage your dog so that they are not guzzling down their food.

It is also a great way to keep your pup busy if you are not at home. Some puzzle toys will have sliding mechanisms that your dog must push to get to their food.

Snuffle Mat

This mat is also a great way to slow down feeding time for your dog. It will give your dog a fun and interactive way to find their food.

The mat is a small forest that your dog must forage through to find its food. Your dog will love looking for their food and enjoy mental stimulation.

You can buy different kinds of snuffle mats depending on what size you require.

Interesting Feeder Bowls

Feeding bowls shaped like puzzles will also help slow down feeding. These bowls are great so that your dog does not eat too fast, and you can choose from a large variety of slow-feeding bowls.

Some have slide and eat options where your pup has to slide compartments to find their food. They will love trying to find their food and will get a chance to digest small portions while looking for more food.

Decrease Air Fresheners, Sprays, and Smoke

Environmental irritants like air fresheners, sprays, and smoke can also irritate your dog’s airways. These items have chemicals that are not safe for your dog anyways and should be avoided.

Sometimes we do not realize that the cleaning products we are using in the house might have strong chemicals that are harmful to their health if breathed in by our pets.

Always try and use natural, chemical-free products that are safe for your pup.

De-Stress Your Dog Regularly

For dogs and puppies suffering from stress and anxiety, the remedy might be as simple as snuggling. Cuddling with your dog and massaging or stroking their belly can calm them down and help to regulate breathing. This is a good activity to do anyways, whether your dog has hiccups or not. Animals can become stressed just like humans and sometimes need human touch to calm them down.

Your Dog’s Hiccups: The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that a once-in-awhile bout of hiccups is nothing to worry about. If it does not last an hour and is not associated with wheezing or vomiting, then your dog is probably fine.

Puppies suffer from bouts of hiccups initially, sometimes more than once a day, and can last until they are 6 months old. Try some quick tips to stop hiccups, and consider changing your dog’s diet if the episodes are common.

Helping your dog relax, eat slowly and drink slower will address the hiccupping issue. Dogs, by nature, may not be able to control the amount or the pace of food they eat.

It is up to pet owners to control the amount and find ways to slow down feeding time, so they do not suffer digestive issues.

To summarize, dog and puppy hiccups usually are harmless and something that dogs just have to live with. If it occurs for a long time, you may need to consult a vet.

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