What Causes Hiccups In Puppies?

Hiccups suck. We have all experienced hiccups at some point, and they are annoying, uncomfortable, and hard to get rid of.

If you are a dog owner, then you may have been surprised to see your dog struck with a hiccupping fit.

If you are new to dog ownership, and you have a puppy, your new little friend may experience it too.

But what causes hiccups in puppies? Let’s take a look.

Do Dogs Get Hiccups?

Yes, dog hiccups are real. Just like humans, dogs can succumb to hiccups. Read on to find out why this happens, and what can be done about it.

What Causes Hiccups In Dogs?

Rest assured, hiccups are normal for canines, too. Just like humans, dogs can get hiccups from eating or drinking too quickly.

Dogs have a muscle beneath their lungs called the diaphragm. When this muscle starts to spasm, it makes the opening between the vocal cords (called the glottis) close quickly. This is what creates the sound that we call a hiccup.

Other than gulping down food and water too fast, dog hiccups can occur when a puppy is tired, is over-excited, or even when they are too cold!

Why Does My Puppy Have Hiccups?

Science is yet to come up with a definitive answer as to why dogs, or humans for that matter, get hiccups. The current theory states that hiccups are a leftover phenomenon from being in the womb. Many mammalian species have been shown to have hiccups in utero. It is thought that perhaps when a pup hiccups in the womb this is a way for their lungs to try out their breathing muscles.

One thing that gives this theory some weight is the fact that hiccups are a lot more common in puppies than they are in adult dogs. It is almost as if dogs ‘grow out’ of having hiccups.

Another possible reason for dog hiccups is to relieve tummy upsets or to release gas.

Can I help My Dog Get Rid Of Hiccups?

If you have ever had the hiccups, then you will know that they go away on their own. Sometimes they last only a little while, other times they tend to drag on for what feels like ages.

Dog hiccups go away on their own too, so try to avoid the temptation of interfering and let nature run its course.

The old wives tales about getting rid of hiccups by giving the sufferer a fright or a teaspoon of sugar is as unlikely to work on a puppy as it is on a human! You will probably just stress them out if you do this.

However, some common sense methods may help your hiccuping pup.

Dog Hiccup Help

These methods may work so are worth a try.

  • Calm Their Breathing:

If your pup has been over-excited, you can help calm their breathing by gently laying them on their back and rubbing their tummy. 

You can read more tips about how to calm an over-excited puppy here.

  • Give Them Cold Water To Drink:

This is a remedy commonly used for human hiccups and is safe to try on your hicuppy puppy too. Just make sure that they don’t gulp the water down. Coldwater is best, as it is thought to soothe the diaphragm.

Cold Water

Learn more about: When Should Puppies Start Drinking Water?

  • Prevent Hiccups By Feeding Smaller Portions:

Again, you are trying to stop your pup from gulping their food down too quickly. Trapped air may contribute to hiccups.

When To Be Concerned About Dog Hiccups

  • If the hiccups last for longer than a few hours;
  • If the hiccups cause irregular or difficult breathing;
  • Your dog is making a wheezing sound when they breathe.

Hiccups that do not stop and that are accompanied by these last two symptoms, then get your pup to the vet as there may be something more serious going on.

Serious Medical Conditions In Dogs That May Cause Hiccups:

In rare cases, dog hiccups may be due to a serious condition such as pneumonia or asthma. Here is what to look out for.

Pneumonia In Dogs:

Pneumonia affects the respiratory system (the lungs and the airways) and stops the dog from breathing normally. Dogs can revolver well if treated by a vet; left untreated pneumonia on dogs can become severe and lead to further complications.

Pneumonia in dogs can be caused by a virus or bacteria. Bacterial pneumonia is highly contagious amongst dogs, especially dogs with weaker immune systems (like pups and senior dogs.)

Other things you should look out for are breathing difficulties, coughing, runny nose, high fever, nasal whistling, lethargy, weight loss, and lack of appetite.

Asthma In Dogs:

Dogs can have allergic reactions that cause asthma. It is uncommon in dogs, but when it does occur it causes spasming and restriction of the airways.

Asthma in dogs is more common in smaller breeds, older dogs, middle-aged dogs, and young dogs.

Things that trigger dog asthma include mold spores, kitty litter, cigarette smoke, air fresheners, perfume, dust mites, pollen, and pesticides. 

Symptoms include coughing, panting, wheezing, and panic. Try to help your dog stay calm if they are having an asthma attack.

Dog Hiccup Summary:

  • Hiccups can affect dogs in the same way that they affect humans;
  • Hiccups are more common in puppies than in adult dogs;
  • Hiccups are thought to be a ‘left-over’ from when pups are in the womb (when hiccups are common and are thought to help the dog learn how to breath);
  • If your dog has hiccups avoid old wives tale remedies such as a fright or sugar;
  • Instead, try to keep your pup calm and help them regulate their breathing, and give them cold water to drink;
  • Dog hiccups should go away on their own after a few minutes;
  • If your dog has hiccups that last longer than a few hours, and are accompanied by other symptoms that indicate that they are having trouble breathing, get your dog to the vet right away as they may have something serious like pneumonia or asthma.

Read more about: How To Clean Up Runny Dog Poop On Carpet

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