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Did you just notice your dog creating a hiccup-like jerk and sound the same with us, humans? And now, you are a bit confused whether it’s a hiccup or not.
Is it right? Did your pup just have a hiccup? But, how is that even possible? Can dogs get hiccups? And what does it mean when an adult dog or a puppy hiccups? Should you be worried?
Can Dogs Get Hiccups?
Yes, your canine companion can also experience hiccups. And a dog’s hiccups usually last the same as with human hiccups – a few minutes and then they’re gone as if nothing happened.
However, there are also rare occasions when persistent hiccups occur and at times they could last as long as 60 minutes. Most often, this is an indication of an underlying disorder or a more serious medical condition that needs to be treated immediately.
As pet parents, it’s just normal for us to be attentive to our dog’s physical symptoms and sudden changes in his behavior. And that’s perfectly fine.
We are only acting in our pet’s best interest. But, if you notice that your dog gets the hiccups, you should not worry. A hiccupping dog is just normal, and as mentioned earlier, the hiccup will just subside on its own.
Nonetheless, as pet owners, it’s also helpful to learn a few things to relieve our pup’s condition and to prevent future bouts of hiccups to occur (check out some remedies below).
Because even if it’s normal, we know how uncomfortable a hiccup could be since we also experience it sometimes.
Our puppies might look adorable when they have a hiccup, but it can also be annoying or distressing for them. Hence, a little help even from remedies or aids that came from anecdotal reports or words of mouth experiences can already go a long way.
However, as always, we should practice due diligence and be careful in filtering out information that might do more harm than good.
And don’t forget to trust your instinct. As they say, when in doubt, don’t do it. Also, when you feel that something is wrong, then chances are, something is really wrong.
What Causes Hiccups in Dogs?
Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm caused by the irritation of this skeletal muscle. When this happens, your dog’s diaphragm spasms suddenly causing a hiccup.
The spasm, in turn, causes the opening of the vocal cords, called the glottis, to close abruptly, which results in the “hic” sound that is produced during a hiccup.
The diaphragm is the muscle that separates your dog’s chest and abdomen, and it’s also the primary muscle for respiration. Normally, it moves regularly and smoothly.
Once your dog breathes in, it causes the diaphragm to contract and move downwards, which gives way for more space inside the chest cavity for the lungs to expand.
On the other hand, once your dog breathes out, his diaphragm relaxes, moves up into the chest cavity, and forces air out of the lungs. When it relaxes as your dog breathes out, the diaphragm also returns to its domelike shape.
The most common cause of hiccups in dogs and puppies is eating food or drinking water too fast, which causes the ingestion of too much air along with the food and water.
Other instances that can trigger hiccups both in puppies and adult dogs are excitement and stress.
How Common Are Dog Hiccups?
Puppies tend to experience hiccups more often than adult dogs, and most dogs experience them at least once when they were younger.
In veterinary medicine, there are several reasons why puppies tend to get the hiccups more often than adult dogs. In addition to eating and drinking rapidly, puppies tend to enjoy energetic play and they can also get excited easily.
All of these activities can increase or alter your dog’s breathing pattern, which then becomes a hiccup trigger.
Hence, puppies and even more mature dogs that are hyperactive and that are frequently running and playing all day long are more prone to experiencing hiccups than a calm, and relaxed dog or puppy.
How to Prevent Hiccups in Dogs?
As simple as it may seem, but the best ways puppy owners can do to prevent hiccups from happening are by avoiding the things or triggers that cause them.
And as discussed earlier, these triggers include eating and drinking fast, as well as being too excited and hyperactive when playing.
Hence, if possible, positively reinforce your pup to eat or drink slowly. You can do this by giving smaller meals or smaller portions every meal.
You can also purchase a slow feeder water bowl or dog bowl if your dog can’t really help but gulp on his foods and drinks at mealtime. A slow feeder bowl could also help prevent digestive issues, and bloating.
How Could You Stop Hiccups in Dogs?
While hiccups usually go away on their own both in humans and dogs, there are also old wives’ tales and words of mouth reports on how to stop hiccups. And these include pulling on your tongue, holding your breath, and being scared.
However, you don’t have to pull your dog’s tongue or scare him to get his hiccup to stop, as these can even be more uncomfortable for him than having hiccups.
But don’t worry, there are tried and tested ways and natural home remedies that you can do to help your hiccupping dog, such as the following:
- Assist your dog to have a regular breathing pattern by calming him down. You can get him to lie on his back, and give him a belly rub.
- Just like with humans, drinking water can also relieve hiccups. However, you have to make sure that your pup drinks his water slowly because as discussed earlier, drinking fast can cause hiccups. If your dog drinks fast while experiencing hiccups, his condition can just worsen and he may even aspirate water into his lungs and choke. You should also feed him slowly, and avoid giving solid food that requires a lot of chewing as this can put him at risk for choking.
- You can also add something sweet to your dog’s water, such as a spoonful of honey, maple syrup, or Karo syrup. The sweetness may distract him and hopefully stabilize his breathing pattern, and the syrup can also coat his throat and soothe any irritation that can trigger or worsen his hiccup.
- Encourage your dog to have a light walk or light exercise with you. The slight motion can help normalize his irregular breathing pattern.
When Should You Call Your Veterinarian?
In rare cases, a hiccup can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, especially when it goes together with other symptoms.
Also, if your dog is experiencing chronic hiccups that last more than one hour, you should definitely take him to the vet immediately for proper evaluation and medical intervention if needed.
Additionally, chronic and prolonged hiccups that occur with respiratory issues or symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, reverse sneezing, and heavy breathing that is not caused by exercise should be treated as soon as possible. Your vet may also have to rule out asthma, pneumonia, or pericarditis.
Another concern is the presence of a regular and persistent hiccup that goes in tandem with gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and/or loss of appetite.
Taking these symptoms into consideration is important as some gastrointestinal diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease and reflux esophagitis can also trigger hiccups in dogs.
Finally, the presence of parasites is also more likely, especially if your dog is experiencing exercise intolerance, lethargy, and regular episodes of hiccups. Hence, it’s best to have your vet rule out these possibilities by scheduling an appointment with him.
In cases like these, your dog’s hiccup can be a blessing in disguise. So, don’t take it for granted.