We all know that humans can get hiccups, but what about dogs? Rest assured, hiccups can occur in dogs and puppies as well. In this post, our Fairfield, NJ vets will explain dog hiccups and if, or when you should be worried.
Can Dogs Get Hiccups?
Yes, dogs can get hiccups, but they are usually nothing to be alarmed about. Hiccups are caused by an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm (the muscle that connects the abdomen to the chest cavity). They are comparable to human hiccups in that they occur when the muscles in the body contract involuntarily – just like breathing.
As a dog ages, the frequency of hiccup bouts usually decreases, as well as the severity of the coughing fits. This is why, if you're wondering why your dog gets hiccups a lot, it might be because they are still very young.
Can Puppies Get Hiccups?
Hiccups are more common in small puppies than in adult dogs, with nearly all puppies experiencing them at some point throughout their growth. Puppies can have hiccups before they are born, while still in their mother's womb.
As a fun side note, hiccuping in the womb also happens in humans and other mammals, and while the cause is unknown, the assumption is that it is caused by the body testing the muscles connected with breathing.
So. if you are wondering "Is it normal for puppies to get hiccups"? the answer is yes.
Why Do Dogs and Puppies Get Hiccups?
There are a number of reasons dogs and puppies can get hiccups, including the following:
Eating or Drinking too Quickly
When your dog eats or drinks too quickly, he or she may swallow more air and begin to hiccup. Aerophagia, or abrupt air intake, causes stomach distention and irritates the muscle diaphragm, forcing it to tighten. You should also avoid giving your dog overly hot or cold foods, as these might irritate their esophagus and perhaps cause hiccups.
Capsaicin, a prevalent element in spicy foods containing chile, stimulates neuron activity in the diaphragm, resulting in contractions that cause hiccuping. Spicy foods always cause stomach gas, which may force individuals to drink water too soon.
Stress or Overexcitement
Stress and excitement can also cause hiccups in dogs, when their heart rate and cortisol levels rise, irritating the diaphragm. Due to tension and excitement, they will also take shorter and shallower breaths. When this happens, they will begin breathing via their chest rather than their lungs.
Dog hiccups might be beneficial in some situations. Hiccups are a means for the body to expel extra gas from the stomach.
How to Get Rid of Dog Hiccups
There are numerous methods for treating human hiccups, such as holding your breath or pulling on your tongue, but no one knows if they are effective. Hiccups aren't usually that serious, and they generally resolve themselves.
It's pointless to try to terrify your dog or pull his tongue to get his hiccups to stop. Scaring or tongue pulling (or whatever other treatment you take) will most likely irritate him more than the hiccup itself.
But if you do want to try, these methods can help:
Slow Down Eating: Try feeding your dog smaller portions so they are not eating so fast. If your puppy hiccups often, it could be because they are eating too fast. During mealtimes, space the food out so your dog isn't scarfing it down in one fell swoop.
Calm Irregular Breathing: Assist your dog's breathing pattern to become more consistent and rhythmic. Getting him to lie on his back and giving him a good stomach rub usually helps the hiccups go away.
Drink Water: Like humans, drinking water can help with hiccups. Just make sure they drink it calmly and slowly.
When Should I Take a Trip to the Vet?
Hiccups are completely natural in dogs and should not be taken too seriously. You should take your dog to the vet if he gets hiccups for more than a few hours, or if they shift to a wheezing sound that causes irregular or difficult breathing. Hiccups that last an hour or more can indicate a variety of health problems. Consult your veterinarian if the hiccup does not cease or fade to avoid further health issues.