Yes, dogs can get hiccups! Pups, just like children, experience hiccups more than adults. This is because puppies tend to gobble down food and have high excitement levels.
There is still a lot of unknown information on hiccups, yet it is funny we sometimes experience one after scarfing down food quickly or extra glasses of bourbon. Hiccups are normal and short-lived in humans.
Can Dogs Get Hiccups? Are They Normal?
Just like human beings, dogs also experience hiccups. Dogs are adorable when they get hiccups. But are they a problem for your pet? Do hiccups bother your dogs as much as they bother you?
When your doggy hiccups, it experiences dramatic stops in between inhales. They may also release some sounds during hiccups.
All dog breeds experience hiccups. As a puppy owner, you will notice these hiccups from time to time as they are normal.
Recognizing Hiccups in Dogs
Hiccups in dogs are similar to human hiccups. However, since your dog does not wear any clothes, it may seem dramatic when their chest shakes forcefully, causing you to think it is something serious.
Other irritations such as coughing, seizures, and regurgitation may be confused for hiccups, although they have some differentiating features.
Coughing makes your dog open its mouth to exhale, and it is louder than a hiccup. With seizures, they may resemble hiccups due to their rhythm.
However, seizures can only occur when your dog is awake, while hiccups can occur even when your dog is sleeping. Regurgitation is typically expelling food or water, and it is not rhythmic like hiccups.
Causes of Hiccups in Dogs
A hiccup in dogs is caused by a spasm in the muscle below the lungs known as the diaphragm.
These spasms cause abrupt closing of the opening in between the vocal cords.
Can dogs get hiccups from natural triggers? Here is the list of natural triggers:
- Drinking or eating fast
- Excitement and energetic play
- Excess barking
- When your dog inhales an irritant
- Rapid breathing
- Stomach upset
- Gas in dog’s belly
Scientists are also in the dark on why dogs can get hiccups. However, they have theories, one of them being that hiccups are leftovers from the uterus.
Scientists have documented fetal hiccups in many mammals. It is believed that hiccups are a way of mammals testing breathing muscles while in the womb. This theory can be supported by the fact that hiccups are common in puppies than in adults.
As a dog owner, you will notice that the more your puppy grows, the less the hiccups. A pup’s internal systems and organs are not as mature as an adult dog, increasing the chance of hiccups.
The other theory is that hiccups are a means of your puppies releasing gas or a sign of an upset stomach. Dogs love to eat anything they get their paws on.
This means that some items they eat may not agree with their digestive system. This causes an abnormal build-up of stomach gas.
It mostly happens if the dog eats right before sleeping. But hey, it is better to exhale gas through hiccups than from the other end!
Do Hiccups Hurt Dogs?
Hiccups are as annoying to puppies just as they are to humans. However, they do not hurt. They are more startling than painful. Bear in mind that your dog will not experience anything bad when hiccupping.
When are Hiccups a Concern?
Occasional hiccups should not be a concern. However, if they become continuous or frequent, it is a sign of an underlying condition that your vet should evaluate.
These conditions include:
- Some gastrointestinal diseases like gastroesophageal reflux and esophagitis can cause frequent hiccups.
- Brain, abdomen, and chest tumors can also cause chronic hiccups in doggies.
- Finally, vagal or phrenic nerve damages can cause abnormal hiccups. Dogs involved in accidents may experience such nerve injuries.
- Synchronous diaphragmatic flutter causes your dog’s muscle to spasm.
- A condition known as kennel cough is caused by bacteria sticking in the respiratory tract. This condition is contagious.
- Worst diseases – Heart diseases, hypothermia, or heartworms
Diagnosing Hiccups in Dogs
If your dog experiences pro-longed hiccups, the hiccups interfere in your dog’s activities, or when the hiccups are frequent, you should take the dog to a licensed vet for evaluation.
If possible, ensure that you have pre-recorded the dog when having the hiccups and show it to the vet.
The vet makes a physical examination, blood cell count, urinalysis, and chemistry panel in most cases.
Depending on the results, the dog’s symptoms, chest X-rays, blood calcium levels, and abdominal ultrasound, the vet may recommend a CT scan or MRI to determine the underlying condition.
It is important to check all the causes of these hiccups as some are fatal.
How to Prevent Hiccups in Dogs
There are several things that pet owners can apply at home to prevent hiccups in dogs. They are:
- If your dog gobbles down food quickly, feed him with a few small meals or partner him with a slow-eating dog.
- Limit all strenuous activities after feeding.
- Feed your dog with a balanced dog meal and avoid giving him table scraps and dog treats.
How to Stop Hiccups in Dogs
Identifying hiccups in a dog can be difficult since some dog actions resemble hiccups. For instance, ‘reverse sneezing’ is an involuntary act of breathing quickly without control.
Here are some simple methods of getting rid of a dog’s hiccups:
- Feed your dog with low-grain food as high-grain food gives them hiccups. Also, observe the dog’s eating habits and find out other foods that may trigger hiccups.
- Give your dog water when experiencing hiccups. Just like in humans, water makes hiccups go away.
- Exercise your dog. Take your dog for a walk, play Frisbee or game fetch, or any other outdoor activity that will stimulate him.
- Feed your doggy. This can also change your doggy’s breathing pattern and stop hiccups.
- Massage the doggy’s chest.
- Give your dog a spoonful of honey, maple syrup, Karo syrup, or a sip of water.
Fortunately, the above tips work in most cases. However, your first action should be to observe and check if it will prolong for a couple of minutes.
Also, make sure your dog doesn’t drink water or eat too fast.
Medications for Dog Hiccups
Never give human medicine for hiccups to your dog without your vet’s guidance. Such medications can be fatal to your dog.
Normally, a drug known as chlorpromazine treats hiccups in humans.
There is no routine medication to treat dog hiccups. However, there is a therapy known as acupuncture that may ease chronic hiccups in dogs.
In most cases, the hiccups go away without treatment. Humans use sugar as a home remedy, but its effectiveness in dogs is unknown. It wouldn’t hurt to try!
When Should You Call a Vet?
You may be worried about your pet’s hiccups. For most of the part, it is normal, and there is nothing to scare you.
However, these hiccups could result from asthma, pneumonia, heatstroke, or pericarditis in some cases.
Always call a vet if the hiccups prolong for more than two hours.
When your dog gets hiccups when sleeping, never intervene; always leave them to sleep. However, if you feel concerned, wake your dog and distract him with a toy until the hiccups subdue.
Of course, despite puppies being adorable when experiencing hiccups, observe them curb future problems to all your furry friends.