Some pet owners might find it cute to see their pup have a little bout of the hiccups. And the vast majority of the time, dog hiccups aren’t anything to worry about.
But there are rare occasions when hiccups could be a sign of serious health issues. This article covers how to cure dog hiccups and when they might be a cause for concern.
Why it Happens
Dog hiccups are similar to those of humans. They occur when the diaphragm involuntarily contracts. This is the muscle situated between the chest and abdomen that is designed to make it easy to breathe.
The diaphragm contracts and moves downward when a dog inhales. It then moves upward when it relaxes after the dog exhales.1
A hiccup occurs when something causes the diaphragm to spasm.
Why do dogs get hiccups?
Well, there are a lot of reasons. For example, a dog will get the hiccups when he or she gulps food or drinks water too fast. Excitement and stress can also be triggers. Also, if you’re a smoker and your dog stays inside a lot, that could be a cause.2
Dog hiccups can occur no matter what age a dog might be. But puppies tend to get them more than adults.
A likely reason is that puppies get excited more often than adult dogs because they have more energy. They also tend to be a little more energetic when it comes to eating. As a result, they will be more likely to inhale too much air at mealtime.3
Some experts believe that hiccups in a puppy happen due to an excess of gas in their system, or an upset tummy.4
Regardless of the cause, dog hiccups are usually harmless. There are some instances, however, where they can be a signal that something’s wrong. Please get your dog to the vet as quickly as you can if he or she is hiccupping and also showing any of the following symptoms:
Hiccuping in conjunction with constipation, vomiting, diarrhea or a loss of appetite could be a sign of a potentially severe gastrointestinal issue. Blood in the stool is another red flag.5
If your dog hiccups and breathing changes suddenly, that could be a sign of a respiratory problem. Coughing, sneezing, and heavy breathing are other signs. Dogs with breathing problems often aren’t able to exercise as much as they used to. They will also often have discharge coming from the nose and also exhibit restlessness.6
When a dog continues to hiccup and is more tired than normal, that could be an indication of a parasite problem. Diarrhea and vomiting are other symptoms. Other signs include unusually dark and hard stools.7
Any time a dog continues to hiccup for a prolonged time – such as hours or days – that’s a sign of some kind of health issue. Keep a close eye on your dog, paying special attention to any other symptoms along with hiccupping. If you have any reason whatsoever to suspect something is seriously wrong, get your dog to the vet as quickly as you can.
How to Cure Dog Hiccups
Assuming that your dog’s hiccups aren’t associated with something serious, there are several safe methods you can use to try and stop them.
Hiccups usually don’t last for more than a few minutes and don’t cause any pain in most instances. But there are several effective options you can try in order to get rid of them.
One of the best ways to cure hiccups is to get your dog to slow down at mealtime.
You can go to your local pet store and find bowls designed for this very purpose. Called “slow bowls,” they will typically have raised portions of plastic inside. These form a sort of barrier that makes it very difficult to eat too fast.
You might also want to consider changing your dog to a different kind of food. High-grain diets can stimulate hiccupping.8
But don’t make any drastic changes until you talk to your veterinarian first. He or she can let you know what foods might work the best. Your vet will also let you know the best ways to gradually introduce your dog to a new diet.
Rubbing a dog’s chest during hiccups could help make the diaphragm relax and fix the situation. Exercise could also help. This will change a dog’s breathing pattern to the point that the hiccups stop.9
Another option is to give the dog some water during hiccups.
It can help a dog stop hiccupping just like it can a human.10
One more thing you can try is to cause some sort of distraction while your dog is hiccuping. Throw a toy to your dog or play some tug. Distractions can help not only humans get over the hiccups, but dogs as well.
The Bottom Line
It’s very important to stress that dog hiccups are typically harmless and don’t require any action on your part. But if you suspect that hiccups are part of a more serious health problem, get to your vet as fast as you can.