Have you ever watched your dog hiccuping and wondered what’s happening? It can be a cute sight but also a little worrisome if you’re not sure why it’s happening.
As pet owners, it is only natural for us to be concerned about unusual behaviors in our dogs.
Hiccups in dogs are actually more common than you might think. It can happen for a variety of reasons and usually goes away after 10-15 minutes. However, hiccups can be problematic if it happens too often and affects your dog’s quality of life.
This post is intended to shed light on why your dog has hiccups and what you should do about them. Let’s dive into this captivating hiccup mystery and bring you some peace of mind
Understanding Hiccups In Dogs
Hiccups in dogs are a peculiar yet entirely natural phenomenon.
Your dog has the occasional hiccup for the same reasons that human hiccups occur.
Hiccups occur when there’s an involuntary contraction or spasm of your dog’s diaphragm. The diaphragm is the large muscle that separates the chest and abdomen.
Its main job is to assist in the breathing process which makes it the major muscle of respiration.
Every time your dog’s diaphragm involuntarily contracts, it causes the larynx or voice box to shut abruptly.
This action draws a swift gust of air into the lungs and causes the trademark hiccup noise.
What Causes Hiccups in Dogs?
Even though hiccups in dogs can be quite common, it is also important for you to understand what are the possible triggers for hiccups.
1. Overexcitement Or Stress
The emotional state of your canine friend can have a significant impact on its physiological responses.
Most dogs can get easily excited for the smallest of reasons.
It could be due to the sight of a squirrel, you coming back home or when hearing the fridge door open.
My dog goes bonkers when I use my vacuum cleaner as he loves chasing it around the house.
This elevated excitement can make your dog pant more which causes it to breathe rapidly and swallow excess air.
Such an action can easily trigger hiccups in your dog.
Dog hiccups can also be caused when the poor animal is feeling stressed out.
The operation of the diaphragm is significantly influenced by the phrenic nerve.
This nerve acts as a pathway between the brain and the diaphragm muscle.
When there’s an abrupt nervous reaction or unexpected scare, it can irritate your dog’s phrenic nerve which causes the diaphragm to spasm.
If your dog has a phobia of loud noises, it can start to hiccup when something loud scares it.
2. Rapid Eating Or Drinking
My dog is as greedy as greedy gets and he leaves no stone unturned when it comes to his food or treats.
It’s a sight most dog owners are familiar with.
Your furry friend devouring its meal as if it’s a race against the clock. While this habit might seem harmless, it can sometimes lead to hiccups.
When dogs eat or drink too quickly, they’re likely to swallow excess air along with their food or water.
This rush of excess air can cause the diaphragm to spasm which leads to hiccups.
The process of taking in too much air is called ‘Aerophagia’ or also known as air eating.
It can be very dangerous if your dog gorges on dry food as it can rapidly expand in its belly and cause canine bloat.
3. Ingesting Irritants
One thing that many dogs are guilty of is ingesting or eating things that they shouldn’t.
Given a dog’s scavenging nature, anything that smells remotely of food is worth a shot.
For females, make sure to dispose of your used pads properly as some dogs are more than happy to chow down on used pads.
There are also many dog owners that feed their dogs human foods that can be bad for dogs in general.
Anything spicy or carbonated can agitate your dog’s diaphragm and cause hiccups.
Chilli contains a compound called Capsaicin that can stimulate the phrenic nerve and cause hiccups in dogs.
I remember having a really bad case of hiccups that lasted for 2 days after eating some really spicy Asian food.
Never knew hiccuping could be so exhausting.
4. Sudden Temperature Change
Imagine yourself diving into cold water on a hot summer day or stepping into a warm room after being out in the cold for a long time.
Changes in temperature, particularly sudden ones, can lead to your dog getting hiccups.
That jarring and sudden temperature transition can shock your dog’s body and affect its phrenic nerve as well.
5. Effects Of Medication
Has your dog’s hiccups only been happening since he has been on a certain medication?
Medications can that affect the gastrointestinal system or the nervous system can sometimes trigger hiccups.
This can include a range of medications such as sedatives, muscle relaxants, steroids or certain antibiotics.
If your dog recently started a new medication and you’ve noticed a bout of hiccups, it’s worth bringing this up with your veterinarian.
Please do not just stop your dog’s medication due to its hiccups without consulting the vet first.
How Do I Get Rid Of Dog Hiccups?
Humans can be a minor annoyance for your dog so it is understandable that you’d want to get rid of it as soon as it happens.
Let’s take a look at some strategies that can effectively stop your dog’s hiccups.
Distract Your Dog
One thing I hate about having hiccups is that it keeps you fixated on and anticipating the next hiccup.
It is one vicious cycle that can be hard to break out of.
Your dog wouldn’t understand what hiccups are but it can get caught up with this strange thing that is happening from within its body.
A technique that has worked well for me is the method of distraction.
Once I stop focusing on my hiccups, it goes away rather quickly.
You can do the same for your dog by trying to distract it with some physical activity or with its favorite toy.
The change in your dog’s breathing pattern during play can help reset its diaphragm, effectively stopping the hiccups.
Give Your Dog Some Cold Water
Getting your dog to drink some cold water might help put a stop to the hiccups.
Water can help soothe the irritated diaphragm and halt the spasms causing the hiccups.
Ensure that your dog has constant access to fresh water and encourage them to take a drink when they’re hiccuping.
Massage Your Dog’s Chest
Rubbing your dog’s diaphragm area can help to stop the hiccups by soothing the muscle.
You can perform this massage by using gentle, circular motions on your dog’s abdomen and chest.
What Not To Do
There are some techniques that require you to hold your breath, breath into a paper bag or eat something sour such as a lemon or vinegar.
Please note that these methods are meant for humans and not for your dog.
Trying to stop your dog from breathing or feeding it vinegar can result in more harm than good.
How Do I Prevent Hiccups In My Dog?
There’s no way to anticipate hiccups in your dog but prevention revolves around understanding what triggers hiccups in your dog and then taking measures to minimize those triggers.
The following tips can be helpful in preventing hiccups from becoming a recurring issue in your canine companion.
Get Your Dog To Eat Slowly
One of the biggest triggers of canine hiccups is eating too fast.
I am very sure your dog is able to polish off his food bowl in last than a minute.
To help your furry friend slow down its eating speed, consider investing in a slow feeder bowl.
A slow feeder bowl has obstacles that require a dog to really work to get to the food.
Eating slowly not only helps to prevent hiccups but it can also prevent other digestive issues such as canine bloat, nausea and vomiting after eating.
Another way of doing this is dividing your dog’s meal into smaller portions rather than one large serving.
Ensuring they take their time eating can significantly reduce the chances of post-meal hiccups.
Provide A Calm Environment
If you have a dog that gets easily excited or stressed, creating a calm and soothing environment can help your pet feel more relaxed.
This reduces the likelihood of emotions-induced hiccups.
Ensure that your dog has a living space that is comfortable and quiet. Minimizing exposure to loud noises or chaotic situations will help to keep your dog calm too.
Why Do Puppies Get Hiccups So Much?
If your dog is still a puppy, be prepared for ‘puppy hiccups’ on a regular basis.
Puppies are particularly prone to getting hiccups as compared to adult dogs as have a lot of energy and tend to play, eat, and drink more quickly than adult dogs.
This rapid intake of air can cause the diaphragm to spasm, leading to hiccups.
Puppies are still growing and their bodies are developing.
Their systems aren’t as mature and they can have more sensitive diaphragms that are prone to spasming.
This could make them more susceptible to hiccups.
When Should I Be Concerned About My Dog’s Hiccups?
The good thing about your dog’s hiccups is that it will go away on its own without intervention.
Most hiccup bouts last about 10-15 minutes.
While occasional hiccups in your dog is usually not a cause for concern, there are certain instances where you might want to seek veterinary advice.
If your dog is having hiccups frequently or they are lasting for an unusually long time (hours or more), this might be a sign of something more serious.
Canine distemper or mild seizures can cause your dog to have hiccups as one of the symptoms.
Pain Or Distress
If your dog appears to be in discomfort or distress while hiccuping, there’s a possibility that the hiccups are causing your dog some internal pain.
Changes In Behavior
If your dog’s behavior changes in any way such as:
- Becoming lethargic
- Eating and drinking less
- Hiding more
- Being less sociable
These are signs that something isn’t right with your dog and needs immediate medical attention.
Take a video of your dog’s hiccups as it happens. This will give the vet a better idea of your dog’s condition.
Do Hiccups Mean Your Dog Is Growing?
Hiccups in dogs, including puppies, don’t directly signify growth but can occur due to factors like rapid eating or excitement. However, puppies tend to get hiccups more often than adult dogs.
Is It Normal For Dogs To Have Hiccups?
Yes, it’s normal for dogs to have hiccups. They can get hiccups for the same reasons as humans do. If your dog’s hiccups persist for an unusually long time, it’s a good idea to consult with a veterinarian.
Can Hiccups Make My Dog Sick?
Hiccups themselves do not make a dog sick as they’re a natural bodily function. If they persist for an extended period or are accompanied by other adverse symptoms it could be a sign of an underlying health issue.
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