Dog hiccups are normal, and you do not need to worry about them unless they accompany other symptoms. While there are several reasons for dog hiccups, most of them are harmless. Only in rare cases are hiccups a sign of a bigger problem, so dog owners should closely observe their dogs for any irregularities.
This article discusses the causes and remedies of hiccups in canines. It also highlights the instances when hiccups are symptomatic of a more significant health concern.
Can Dogs Get Hiccups?
Yes, dogs and puppies can get hiccups.
Hiccups are small spasms caused by the rapid contraction of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscle that separates the dog’s chest cavity from its abdomen. The diaphragm contracts and relaxes as the dog breathes in and out respectively.
Hiccups are involuntary actions that first cause the diaphragm to contract and then result in the slight closure of the vocal cords. As a result of this, the ‘hic’ sound is heard. This process occurs several times within a few minutes.
What Causes Dog Hiccups?
There are a few reasons that may trigger this involuntary action:
Inhaling Too Much Air
Inhaling too much air is one of the main reasons why dogs get hiccups. Dogs tend to breathe in extra air when they eat or drink too quickly. Similarly, if they get overexcited or exhaust themselves by playing too much, they may take big gulps of air to breathe and inhale too much air in the process.
Stress and Anxiety
Dogs that suffer from stress or anxiety experience hiccups more often because stress and anxiety both cause dogs to breathe rapidly, which in return contracts their diaphragm.
There is an unusual theory that exists regarding puppy hiccups – researchers claim that hiccups are a leftover mechanism from when the puppy was developing in the uterus. It is believed that hiccups were a natural mechanism to test the fetus’ breathing muscles in the womb.
Why Does My Dog Get Hiccups in the Morning?
There are a few reasons why your dog may get hiccups early in the morning; these are:
Eating Too Fast
Dogs are known to gobble up their food quickly, which causes the diaphragm to contract and leads to hiccups. Another problem with eating too fast is that the food isn’t chewed properly and doesn’t break down well. It can irritate the diaphragm and the throat, causing hiccups.
Dogs, especially puppies, tend to get overexcited as soon as they wake up. This sudden burst of energy disturbs their breathing pattern causing their diaphragm to contract. Their puppy hiccups fade away as they start regulating the air going in and out of their lungs.
Many dogs wake up in an anxious state, making their breathing patterns irregular. It is more common amongst dogs that are settling into a new home. The unfamiliar environment triggers their anxiety, but the hiccups go away as soon as they start getting comfortable.
What Should You Do if Your Dog Gets Hiccups?
You can take certain steps to help your dog get rid of hiccups. These are:
Give Your Dog Water
Drinking water is the best remedy for hiccups – mostly, hiccups are caused because the diaphragm is irritated, and a glass of cold water soothes the irritation. At the same time, ensure your dog isn’t lying on its back while drinking because this can cause the water to enter the lungs.
Feed Your Dog Sugar
Giving your dog a lick of sugar may distract it from the hiccups. Feeding soft forms of sugar such as honey and maple syrup to dogs is preferable as they decrease the chances of choking.
Lightly exercising and even walking can help stabilize your dog’s breathing pattern. Once this happens, the hiccups will end automatically.
Massaging Its Belly
Massaging your dog’s belly is an excellent way to eliminate hiccups. A light massage will not only relax your dog but also distract it from the continuous hiccups.
Slow Down Their Eating and Drinking
Dogs often end up getting hiccups during or after they have eaten because of how fast they eat. Therefore, slowing their eating and drinking might stop and even prevent these hiccups. One way of doing this is by serving dogs in slow-feeding dishes designed to reduce their eating and drinking speed.
Are Hiccups Dangerous for My Dog?
It is exceedingly rare for dogs to get hiccups due to underlying problems, but if they appear with other symptoms, you should take them to the veterinarian. Some of these symptoms are:
- Your dog is having difficulty eating or drinking.
- Your dog has frequently been vomiting.
- Your dog is suffering from constipation or diarrhea.
- The hiccups have lasted for more than 60 minutes.
- Your dog is visibly in pain.
- The sound of the hiccups has changed.
- Your dog has been drooling excessively.
- The breathing pattern of your dog has changed. It is either wheezing or having trouble breathing.
These symptoms may be signs of a hidden problem which is why immediate medical attention is recommended. Some of the possible dangers are:
The symptoms mentioned above, especially those interfering with your dog’s breathing, can signify a respiratory issue, including diseases like Asthma.
Continuous hiccups can be a sign of overexertion. When dogs are too tired, they might end up getting persistent hiccups. It is a sign for you to stop your dog from overexerting itself and get more rest.
Hiccups combined with irregular breathing may also be a sign of heart disease, including Pulmonary Heart Disease, as your dog’s heart might be struggling to pump blood to the lungs.
If dogs have pneumonia, they might manifest the symptoms mentioned above. Pneumonia can irritate your dog’s throat and the diaphragm leading to persistent hiccups.
Alongside hiccups, when dogs have an appetite or digestive issue, it is a possibility that they might have a gastrointestinal problem. These issues can include vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and even loss of appetite.
Many dogs, especially those that have a darker coat or those belonging to the brachycephalic dog breeds, are prone to get heat strokes. These are more dangerous than they sound, as heat strokes can be life-threatening.
If your dog has aggressive hiccups alongside any of the symptoms mentioned above, there is a chance that it has a heat stroke. In that case, it should immediately be treated by a veterinarian.
If your dog has been getting hiccups frequently and has simultaneously been lethargic, there is a chance that it might have parasites. If left untreated, these can cause great trouble; hence, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Conclusion for Should You Be Worried About Dog Hiccups?
Should You Be Worried About Dog Hiccups? Well, for the most part, no! Dog hiccups are normal and should not be a cause of concern until and unless they appear alongside other symptoms.
Dog owners should carefully examine their pets to see if the hiccups are unusual, but if they aren’t, there is nothing to worry about. Hiccups are a simple reflex and usually end with a simple solution; if the case seems otherwise, consult a vet.