Do Dogs Get Hiccups? (A Mystery Answered)
You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “dogs are people, too.” While that phrase is wildly inaccurate, it doesn’t mean that our little canine pals don’t share some of the same characteristics that we have. Is having the hiccups one of those shared idiosyncrasies?
Dogs and Hiccups
Dogs do indeed get hiccups from time to time. Like humans, these hiccups are caused by an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm. Unlike a human hiccup, a dog hiccup can be kind of adorable.
What Causes the Hiccup Process to Happen?
In general, hiccups aren’t a great concern. Typical causes are rapid eating or drinking, the ingestion of spicy food, stress, or excitement. It can also be caused by a reaction to certain foods that irritate your dog’s tummy; if you notice your pooch particularly struggling with hiccups after eating, you may want to consider making alterations to his diet to see if a certain food is the cause.
While hiccups may not be that big of a deal most of the time, there are rare cases where they signal a more serious issue. Some of these potential issues include a respiratory defect, asthma, heat stroke, or pericarditis. If you notice a bout of hiccups that last longer than an hour, and you have ruled out diet as the cause, you should take your dog to the veterinarian to make sure nothing more serious is occurring.
In general, puppies have a greater tendency to experience hiccups. This isn't too surprising since pups tend to be rambunctious balls of energy that haven't quite figured out how to pace themselves when it comes to certain things. Bouts of hiccups will generally dissipate once your dog reaches adulthood.
How Can I Stop a Dog’s Hiccups?
Your dog’s hiccups will typically stop a few minutes after they start. But what if a few minutes is too long? Fortunately, there are a few steps that you can take if you want to expedite the process.
The first thing you can do is offer your pooch a drink of water. The theory behind this step is rather similar to why drinking water helps humans. Namely, it can work to “reset” the dog’s diaphragm, which will eliminate the spasm that causes the hiccup.
Finding ways to alter your dog’s breathing pattern is also a good way to stop the hiccups. You can do this by engaging in a bit of playtime with your pooch, which will increase his breathing. You can also provide him with a doggie treat, as the act of mowing down on a goodie will also cause his breathing pattern to alter.
If your dog’s hiccups correlate with over-excitement, calming him down will help the problem subside. One of the best ways to do this is to give him some kind of gentle massage. A sweet, consistent tummy rub will work wonders to soothe your savage (or not so savage) beast.
If you note that your dog’s hiccups remain persistent, your veterinarian can prescribe a muscle relaxant. This medication will provide the kind of soothing action to your pooch's diaphragm that is needed for the hiccups to cease. With that being said, your vet could also give you the option for surgery if some kind of physical abnormality is detected.
Calm Down - It’s Perfectly Normal
The most important thing to keep in mind when your dog starts hiccupping is it’s more often than not a perfectly normal function, especially for puppies. Therefore, remain calm and ride the storm if at all possible. Remember, excitement may be one of the causes for hiccups; getting worked up in a tizzy may get your buddy wound up even further, which could exacerbate the issue.
If you’re too anxious to wait until the bout runs its course, a little food, drink, or bonding time will do the trick. While this isn’t necessarily the best course of action to take - it is preferred that you simply let the bout of hiccups finish naturally - knowing these calming tactics exists could be an optimal solution for those who may struggle with remaining calm. At the very least, this particular strategy allows you to incorporate a little bonding time with your pal, which could be viewed as a bonus.
We had a dog which hiccuped daily and the best solution we found was one of those bowls to slow down their eating. We also went to low grain food and the hiccups cleared up within a few days. Most dogs don’t need this sort of help but some do.