You may think only humans get the hiccups. But you’d be wrong.
Do dogs get hiccups? Yes.
Many other animals also get them. And they can be as surprising and annoying as human hiccups.
This awkward happening may take a nonchalant dog into a stressed one. You will worry as an owner, to the point you’ll think something is truly wrong with your pet.
But there’s not much to fret about. Hiccups come and go, and you can help your dog get rid of them faster.
That doesn’t mean hiccups can’t get dangerous… But it’s rare when they do.
Either way, if you want to learn more about hiccups in dogs, keep reading and learn!
Why do Dogs Get Hiccups?
Scientists haven’t found a specific reason why humans and other animals have hiccups. They know, however, How they happen?
Either in dogs or humans, a hiccup is a diaphragm spasm. That is, a muscle under the lungs expands momentarily, causing the vocal cords to close fast. As the glottis (part of the vocal cords that closes) opens wide and then shuts off, a particular sound comes out (the popular HIC).
Why it happens, maybe no one knows. But the leading theory is that hiccups are a way to test the breathing system. Hiccups happen to babies in the uterus as a way to “wake up” their breathing muscles so the baby can be born fully functional.
That’s why you may see how babies and puppies tend to hiccup a lot more than adult humans or dogs.
Among the hiccup triggers, you can consider:
- Swallowing food too quickly without chewing
- Drinking liquids way too fast without stopping
- Being physically active after a long period of lethargy
- Fear or anxiety after a sudden change of environment
- Overexcitement mixed with drinking/eating
- Other dogs and people causing emotional stress
- Less-than-ideal conditions causing breathing issues
Many other things could be happening, but these are the most common by far. If you see your dog hiccupping after any of the above, you probably already know the cause.
Are Dog Hiccups Common?
Yes, but it depends.
For example, puppies suffer from hiccups more often. Like babies, they tend to hiccup a lot more often as their bodies are less developed. This will happen consistently as the dog goes from puppy to adult and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
Adult dogs tend to suffer from hiccups a lot less often. But they may still get the hiccups – mostly when they’re overly active. If they’re eating or drinking too fast, hiccups also happen.
You shouldn’t worry at all either way. Dogs, like humans, get hiccups pretty often. Hiccups can get dangerous…
What Are Dog and Puppy Hiccups?
A hiccup is a brief spasm that can result in a little movement and produces the sound, “hic.” This involuntary reflex, when activated, causes the diaphragm to contract and the vocal cords to close quickly, thus producing the “hic” sound.
In dogs and pups, hiccups are brought on by the quick contracting of the diaphragm. This narrow, powerful muscle, which is involved in breathing, is called the diaphragm and divides a dog’s chest cavity from its abdomen. A hiccup happens when the diaphragm suddenly spasms; otherwise, it generally moves smoothly and regularly.
Why Do Puppies Get Hiccups?
Puppies are far more likely to get hiccups than adult dogs. Due to their greater levels of activity and excitement, puppies have a tendency to breathe in more air, which is believed to be the primary reason behind puppy hiccups. Besides, hiccuping in puppies can also be a sign of fatigue, cold, or excitement.
It is also speculated that puppies are more prone to muscle contractions as their bodies are still in the developing stage, and their muscles are much weaker. But it is important to remember that as long as hiccupping lasts only for a few minutes and is not accompanied by drooling, sleepiness, coughing/wheezing, or difficulty swallowing, it is normal for a puppy to hiccup, even on a daily basis.
Can Hiccups Become a Problem?
Hiccups can happen at any moment without notice and cause no significant issue. But they may also occur weirdly to the point of getting uncomfortable for your dog. You will probably see your dog stressed out – which calls for immediate help.
What are signs that hiccups are getting dangerous? Check these below:
- Hiccups that don’t go away after a few minutes could become dangerous (they shouldn’t last more than 10-20 minutes up to an hour)
- Is your dog wheezing and whining as the hiccups happen? There’s probably some pain involved.
- Rare lethargy and unwillingness to do the usual stuff like eating or barking are also signs of trouble combined with hiccups.
- Dogs sneezing and coughing alongside the hiccups could be a sign of asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, or similar lung issues.
- A dog that tires too quickly and gets hiccups after a walk may also have something related to the lungs or heart.
- Hiccups on hot days could be a sign of overexertion or heart issues. It often happens to dogs with thick coats who get too active in the summer.
- Some dogs also suffer from hiccups alongside vomiting and diarrhea. This is another way to know your dog is not feeling well due to stomach or gastrointestinal issues (like bloating).
- If your dog was recently diagnosed with parasites, you would notice some hiccups as well, especially when the parasites get to the lungs. Worms are very common in that case.
As you may guess, dogs with hiccups with either of these symptoms may need immediate veterinary intervention. Don’t hesitate to take your dog to the doctor if you spot any of the signs above.
Do Hiccups Hurt Dogs?
Even though dogs cannot communicate with us, we may determine from their behaviors that hiccups are not painful. Dogs often exhibit no signs of tension, anxiety, or pain during these contractions; however, they can be irritating when they linger for a long time. In extreme cases, hiccups might linger for hours, although most of the time they don’t need to be treated.
When Should You Worry About Dog Hiccups?
Although hiccups among dogs are not something shocking, persistent hiccups which continue for more than a few hours might be a sign of something serious. So, there are certain symptoms that you should be looking out for in a dog, and if you find them, consult your vet immediately.
The signs that you should be looking forward are if your dog is in pain or it is drooling more than normal or vomiting, it has lost its appetite, it has difficulty in breathing, and its breathing has a wheezing sound.
7 Remedies for Dog Hiccups
The typical solution to your dog’s hiccups is time. Leave your dogs to hiccup until the thing goes away. That should be enough in most situations.
But if you see the hiccup lasting for more than half an hour and you get worried, then you can try one of the following remedies:
1. Calm Them Down
Telling and forcing your dog to relax is probably the best way to get rid of hiccups. This works wonders on overactive dogs who tend to get hiccups from being overexcited.
A common way is to lay the dog on its back and give him a tummy rub. Let the dog relax until he falls asleep and forgets about the hiccups.
This works because your dog goes to sleep, and its breathing goes back to normal in the process. As such, the hiccups often go away with it.
2. Massage your Dog’s Chest
Giving your dog a tummy rub to sleep is effective. But nothing like massaging its chest muscles to make it forget about the issue.
Hiccups happen close to the lungs, so massaging that area may relax the muscles involved in the hiccups. As a result, your dog’s annoyance may go away (temporarily, at least).
3. Make them Drink Water (SLOWLY!)
Just like humans can get rid of their hiccups by drinking lots of water (and burping), you can force your dog to do the same.
It is not easy to make a dog drink water, but it may help.
JUST BE CAREFUL. If you’re dealing with an overexcited dog, this may cause further hiccups or other issues. Avoid them by making it drink as slowly as possible.
4. Give Something to Eat (SLOWLY!)
Like drinking water, eating also helps dog move their internal muscles. This could help them relieve most of their hiccup symptoms quickly.
Force your dog to eat slowly if you can. It’s worth considering, once again, that dogs that eat too fast may worsen the hiccups. You can consider cutting the food into smaller pieces for dogs that are too stubborn.
5. Try Some Home Remedies
You may not believe this, but your dog may also benefit from some sugary remedies.
The legendary spoon of maple syrup or honey may relieve some of your dog’s breathing issues. By calming the throat and getting rid of irritation, sugary foods like these can be beneficial.
Plus, dogs also like sugar. It may work as a distraction from the hiccup, making them forget about it.
6. Take Your Dog for a Walk
Getting your dog a bit excited may help with hiccups (UNLESS YOUR DOG GETS THE HICCUPS BECAUSE OF THAT).
If you’re dealing with a lazy dog that hasn’t gotten out of the house for long, hiccups may happen and never go away. The guy just doesn’t want to move.
Taking your dog on a walk (even if forced) may put his breathing muscles and overall body to the test. As a result, the hiccup may go away by just walking around the neighborhood.
7. Make Him Bark
Many people wouldn’t think barking solves hiccups, but it may.
The reason is simple: barking means your dog can extract air from the lungs and put their breathing muscles to work. This may cure the hiccups (at least momentarily).
Another reason is excitement. A barking dog means either that there’s a threat around, it is mildly stressed, or it’s having tons of fun. Either way, your dog may get a hiccup fix by just barking at people, other dogs, or just from play.
How to Prevent Dog Hiccups?
Does your dog suffer from hiccups consistently? The truth is, your dog probably has an undiagnosed condition. We recommend taking it to a vet as soon as possible.
But if your dog only gets the hiccup from time to time and you want to prevent them, the following tips may help you out:
Keep Your Dog Healthy
Give your dog enough exercise by taking it to walks, throwing branches, frisbees, or bones to make it run, and letting it play with other dogs or humans.
You should also keep your dog as calm as possible. Try not to introduce stressors or irritants to the dog’s environment too harshly.
And third, feed your dog well and give him enough water. Letting your dog starve or overeat will cause health issues over time, something you don’t want. Excellent health means fewer health issues and, obviously, less chance of continuous hiccups.
Change the Dog’s Diet
Unhealthy diets are often the cause of dog’s hiccups. But we don’t mean eating too much or too little but eating the wrong woods.
It’s not common, but foods like barley, corn, wheat, and legumes push your dog to produce more gas. Consequently, they may end up having digestive issues (and hiccups come as a side effect).
Stick to food specially made for dogs and treats. Avoid anything processed or with unwanted amounts of chemicals.
Stick to Easy-to-Eat Food
Try to avoid giving your dog any type of food that needs a lot of breathing to digest. That is, anything way too solid like bones, nuts, hard human crackers, and anything your dog may get choked with.
Also, try to avoid foods that take a lot of effort to swallow. Things like peanut butter and chewing gum could make it hard for your dog to process and thus cause hiccup by mistake.
Don’t Overexcite your Dog.
This goes without saying. Dogs have different personalities. Some of them like being calm, friendly, and tidy, while others will make a mess of your house if you let them.
The latter are the ones that get the most hiccups by being overexcited. They won’t even care to relax and breathe properly. They will eat food and drink water desperately, causing hiccups.
To avoid any of that, you should keep your dog as calm as possible. As long as you can ensure a more relaxed dog (especially around eating time), you’ll reduce how often the dog gets hiccups.
BY THE WAY: This is not to say that you SHOULDN’T play with your dog. Instead, it is a call to consider playing your dog CALMLY (we know it is hard with some dogs, but the effort is worth it).
Train Your Dog
Canines who know how to behave, eat properly, drink water correctly, and not get into worrying states by external factors are less likely to suffer from hiccups.
Your dog will suffer from way fewer hiccups if you can train it to do all these things. Plus, you’ll be saving many worries because you don’t know what’s happening (trained dogs often make it easy to understand when they’re not doing well).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The exact amount of time it should last to a human: about 10 to 20 minutes. Anything longer than that is not necessarily a thing to worry about – but you may want to consider checking your dog nonetheless.
As a general rule, you should always call a veterinarian if the hiccups last more than an hour. There’s probably an underlying condition you don’t know about in that case.
Dogs with the brachycephalic syndrome (a genetic issue that obstructs their airways) tend to have more breathing problems as they age. This typically comes with a ton of different symptoms. Among them, you’ll find hiccups.
The most common brachycephalic dogs are Boston Terriers, Boxers, Bulldogs, Bull Mastiffs, Chinese pugs, Lhasa Apsos, Pekingese, and Shih Tzus.
They won’t necessarily suffer from hiccups consistently but are more likely to do so.
No, this doesn’t work either for dogs or humans. Scaring your dog may actually have the opposite effect and worsen the hiccups as you’ll be stressing your dog. And even worse, if the hiccup comes from possibly dangerous conditions, you’ll be doing your dog a massive disservice by scaring him (DON’T DO IT).
Generally speaking, dog hiccups are quite natural, and if your dog is suffering from random hiccups, chances are that they will go away on their own in a short while. However, you should think about taking your dog to the vet if the hiccups start to linger for hours and start to negatively impact your dog’s health and make it cranky and uncomfortable
To begin with, please remember that, unlike humans, dog hiccups may not always be accompanied by a sound, and since you may not hear any sound, it becomes trickier to determine if your dog is having hiccups. The easiest way to confirm if your dog is hiccupping is to closely look at its chest and tummy. You will find that its inhales are followed by quick and abrupt stops, and this may shake its whole belly or chest.
Generally, hiccupping among dogs is perfectly normal and is a big deal. Most of the time, it goes away after a while. But if you find that your dog has been consistently hiccuping for quite some time or that the hiccupping has changed into a wheezing sound, then you should consider seeking medical attention for it.
Besides, persistent hiccupping can also cause difficulty in breathing, which is probably a sign of something more serious, and in this case, you should definitely take your furry friend to your vet.
Do dogs get hiccups, then? YES!
Are hiccups something to worry about? Not really.
Should you get worried if hiccups don’t go away? Not yet, unless you find an additional problem like digestive or breathing issues.
How to get rid of the hiccups in your dog? Follow our guide above, and you’ll learn precisely how.
So, are you ready to help your dog get rid of and prevent hiccups? Don’t hesitate and try our methods then!
Dr. Lillian is a D.V.M. passionate about promoting awareness of dogs. She shares her expertise through her blogs on canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology, and emergency care. Dr. Lillian is committed to contributing to animal welfare.