Though dog hiccups can be cute and even comical at times, for many pet owners they can also be cause for concern. After all, are hiccups normal in dogs? How long should they last? Can they be a sign of something more serious? Thankfully, in most cases, your dog’s hiccups are nothing to worry about and will resolve in a matter of minutes. However, there are times when hiccups can be caused by something more serious and it’s important to be able to tell the difference. This article aims to answer all of your frequently asked questions about hiccups in dogs, including what to do if your dog and when to seek veterinary attention.
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Do dogs get hiccups?
Just like us humans, all mammals, including dogs, get the hiccups! Hiccups are caused by a spasm or contraction of the diaphragm, the large dome-shaped sheet of muscle between the chest and the abdomen. The diaphragm usually moves smoothly as we inhale and exhale but when it contracts suddenly, the glottis (opening of the airway) closes briefly causing the classic ‘hic’ sound of a hiccup.
Dogs that eat and drink too quickly tend to be more prone to hiccups, as they swallow air while inhaling their meal.
Why does my dog hiccup?
No one knows for sure why dogs, humans, or any animal hiccups, though there are multiple theories. Hiccups have been linked to brain development in babies and may play a role in regulating their breathing. And just like human babies, puppies also experience hiccups much more frequently than adult dogs.
Another theory is that hiccups help to remove air from the stomach, especially when newborn mammals suckle milk. Dogs that eat and drink too quickly also tend to be more prone to hiccups, as they swallow air while inhaling their meal. Stress, overexcitement, and vigorous play have also been suggested as causes for hiccups in dogs, possibly due to changes in breathing patterns, leading to an increased amount of air in the stomach. This also fits with why hiccups may be seen in dogs with breathing problems, as well as tummy upsets and other gastrointestinal issues.
How to relieve hiccups in dogs?
Though there are many old wives tales for relieving hiccups, like giving someone a fright, there’s no need to test these out on your pup and scare them silly! In most cases, your dog’s hiccups will simply resolve on their own within a matter of minutes.
If you do want to try and help your dog get rid of hiccups, you can try:
- Offering a small drink of water
- Taking them on a gentle walk to distract them
- Gently massaging or rubbing their chest
Don’t try and offer your pup food while they have hiccups. There is always the small possibility that they might choke accidentally and it’s just not worth the risk!
If your dog is a little too enthusiastic at mealtimes and inhales their food instead of chewing it, you might want to make some changes to help prevent hiccups. Slow-feeder bowls or interactive food puzzle toys are great ways to slow your pup down and are also a fantastic source of mental stimulation. They may even help reduce the risk of bloat or GDV (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus) in deep-chested dogs (win-win!). You can also try feeding multiple small meals a day rather than one or two large meals.
When should I be worried about my dog’s hiccups?
Most cases of hiccups last only a few minutes but up to 10-15 minutes can be normal. If your dog is experiencing prolonged periods of hiccups, lasting over an hour, it’s best to contact a house call vet near you as it may be an indication that something isn’t quite right .
Medical problems that may cause hiccups in dogs include respiratory diseases, like pneumonia or bronchitis, or gastrointestinal problems, like an upset tummy. So if your dog is showing other signs of illness like coughing, wheezing, sneezing, vomiting, or diarrhea, make sure to get them checked out by a vet as soon as possible.
Signs your dog requires urgent care at the nearest emergency center include:
- Difficulty breathing, choking or struggling to breathe
- Pale or blue-tinged gums
- Weakness or collapse
Respiratory noises such as sneezing, coughing, and wheezing can easily be mistaken for hiccups, so if you’re not sure it’s always best to check with a vet. Taking a video to show your veterinary team can be extremely helpful to help them differentiate between hiccups and other signs of illness to work out what’s going on with your pup.
If your dog is showing other signs of illness like coughing, wheezing, sneezing, vomiting, or diarrhea, make sure to get them checked out by a vet as soon as possible.
In most cases, hiccups are considered normal in dogs and will resolve on their own within 10-15 minutes or less. Puppies, in particular, will experience hiccups more frequently than adult dogs – similar to human babies! Signs that your dog needs to see a vet include prolonged hiccups that last for over an hour or hiccups accompanied by other signs of illness such as difficulty breathing, coughing or vomiting.
In most cases no. Just like in humans, most cases of hiccups are considered normal in dogs and will resolve on their own within 10-15 minutes. However, if your dog is experiencing a prolonged period of hiccups (over 1 hour) or showing other signs of illness they should be seen by a vet.
Hiccups are normal in all mammals, including dogs, and are not usually a cause for concern. However, in some cases, respiratory diseases such as bronchitis or pneumonia, as well as gastrointestinal issues, may also cause hiccups in dogs.
Most cases of hiccups in dogs last for only a few minutes, though up to 10-15 minutes is considered normal. However, if your dog’s hiccups last over an hour or are accompanied by difficulty breathing, coughing, vomiting, or other signs of illness you should contact a vet as soon as possible.
Ellen is an Australian vet who is currently combining her love of writing with traveling and working across the UK as a relief vet. Ellen graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2012 and is passionate about all things small animal health. Since graduating she has worked in clinical practice, including at a university teaching hospital in New Zealand. Ellen is currently based in Somerset and in her free time enjoys yoga, reading, travel, and modern calligraphy!