Dog Hiccups: What Causes Them and How to Stop Them
What are dog hiccups?
Dog hiccups happen in the same way that human hiccups do. Little irritations cause small diaphragm spasms, which cause slight movements in the opening between the vocal cords — the glottis. When the glottis closes abruptly, it makes a quick “hic” sound. Hiccups typically happen during inhalation but can happen during exhalation.
Why does my dog get hiccups?
Scientists don’t know exactly what causes hiccups. Fetal hiccups have been documented and were thought to be a way for fetuses to test out their breathing muscles.
Dog and puppy hiccups are often noticed after dogs eat or drink too fast. Other reasons include swallowing too much air when dogs get overly excited, stressed, anxious, or even from playing too hard. This causes an irritation to the diaphragm, which leads to hiccups. Another theory is that dog hiccups are a way for pups to relieve gas or alleviate an upset stomach. Dogs can also get a hiccup-like response during general anesthesia.
How to get rid of dog hiccups
There are lots of theories on how to make hiccups stop, but the truth is there’s no special formula for getting rid of dog hiccups—or human hiccups!
The best way to get rid of dog hiccups is by helping your dog change his breathing pattern. You can do this by encouraging him to go on a light walk with you or drink a little room-temperature water. You can even try gently rubbing his belly, chest or throat.
If you notice your dog getting hiccups after eating or drinking too fast, slow him down by using a slow feeder dog bowl. Giving your dog smaller, more frequent meals can help slow his eating, too.
Are dog hiccups a concern?
Dog hiccups are pretty common and usually nothing to worry about. They typically last anywhere from a few seconds up to a few hours. Even though dog hiccups won’t typically hurt your pup, there are situations where dog hiccups can be a sign of an underlying health problem.
Dog hiccup symptoms to watch out for
If you notice your dog acting agitated by the hiccups, or you see any of the following symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away.
- Hiccups lasting more than a few hours
- Lack of appetite
- Not drinking
- Excessive drooling
- Dog seems to be in pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Hiccups turn into wheezing sound
Dog hiccups and possible underlying health problems
The hiccups, in conjunction with the symptoms above, could be a sign of a more serious medical issue:
Dog hiccups are rarely caused by these illnesses, but it’s helpful to be aware of them—just in case. An informed pet parent is a dog’s best friend.