It feels like almost anything that has to do with a dog can be a source of consternation. While something as simple as a hiccup may just sound like a funny noise, it’s not all that surprising that many dog owners begin to get concerned as soon as they start to hear those noises. While the average hiccup may not be dangerous, it’s still something about which you should take the time to learn.
The good news is that hiccups in dogs are usually fairly benign. Once you figure out what causes hiccups in dogs and what you can do about them, you too can decide whether or not your dog’s latest noises are actually a cause for concern.
Do Dogs Really Get Hiccups?
Yes, that sound that your dog is making really is the dog hiccups! In fact, they’re actually not all that different from the type of hiccups you might get. It’s not terribly unusual for this to happen to a dog, nor is it something about which you need to be too frightened. If you think about your own hiccups, you already know that they’re simply a fleeting problem that might cause you a little bit of discomfort but that they’re ultimately not dangerous. Fortunately, the same mostly holds true for a dog that gets the hiccups.
What are dog hiccups, anyway? Simply put, they’re a product of an abnormal function of your dog’s diaphragm. During a normal day, your dog’s diaphragm is going to fill and empty every time his or her lungs do the same. This is a vital part of helping your dog to breathe, of course, and something that you want to see.
When your dog is hiccuping, you’re really seeing a combination of a diaphragm malfunction and the closing of your dog’s glottis. If your dog’s glottis closes up, the air is going to stop coming into his or her throat. When you get the two issues running together, you’ll get the common hiccup. It’s a little problem with your dog’s system that probably isn’t a big deal, but it’s worth looking at why such a problem might occur.
What Causes a Dog to Have Hiccups?
The good news is that almost all of the causes of dog hiccups are things about which you really don’t need to worry about. If your dog gets too excited, eats or drinks too fast, or just gets a little too much exercise, he or she might start with the hiccups. This is a normal part of dog ownership and the best thing you’ll be able to do is to wait it out. With that said, there are a few specific situations in which you might want to at least pay a little more attention.
Of all the hiccups, puppy hiccups are probably the cutest. These tiny exclamations almost always come because your puppy is just eating a little too fast. In his or her excitement to eat all of his or her puppy food, your dog is actually going to end up inhaling a lot of air at the same time. Since there’s only one place for all of that air to go, your dog is going to end up hiccuping. While this isn’t dangerous, you may want to slow down your puppy’s eating so that he or she has a little more room to digest his or her food.
Chronic Hiccup Causes
Yes, there are some adult dogs that get chronic hiccups. In these cases, you might actually want to display at least a little concern. Though the odds are definitely against your dog having one of these problems, it never hurts to err on the side of caution. You may want to consider taking your dog to the vet if he or she could even potentially have one of the problems below.
Oddly enough, hiccuping can actually be one of the most tell-tale signs of a parasite infestation in dogs. The hiccups alone are not enough to help make this diagnosis, though; instead, you’ll want to look to see if your dog is also vomiting or if he or she has diarrhea. If this happens, you’ll want to contact a veterinarian and check out your pet for roundworms or heartworms, specifically in his or her respiratory tract. The hiccups might actually be caused by parasite larvae that has settled into that part of your dog’s anatomy, in which case it’s likely time to start your pet on dog dewormer.
As you might expect, hiccups can also be a sign that something is going wrong with your dog’s stomach (1). Again, it’s only one of the potential signs – the hiccuping will almost certainly be joined by issues like blood in the dog’s stool or vomiting. There are honestly dozens of different stomach problems that your dog could have that could be the cause of both of these symptoms, so it’s a good idea to go ahead and get your dog to the vet so that you can start ruling out some of the more common problems.
Is your dog sneezing or wheezing? If so, these symptoms can work together with hiccuping to give your vet a good idea that your dog is actually having some respiratory problems. These issues can range from simple issues like bronchitis to life-threatening problems like pneumonia, and only those dogs who get quickly treated will be able to get the care they need. If your dog has more than one respiratory problem at a time, make sure to get him or her to a vet as fast as possible.
How to Stop Hiccups in Dogs
If you do feel like hiccups are hurting your dog’s quality of life, you should take the time to figure out how to stop them before they become a problem. For most dogs, the hiccups are going to happen because they’re eating or drinking a little too quickly. Fortunately, this is a problem that’s easier to solve than you might imagine. Simply picking up automatic dog feeder with a timer can make it easier to slow your dog’s food intake down, which means that he or she is much less likely to develop hiccups from eating too quickly.
Likewise, you might want to make sure that your dog has the right kind of water dish. Some dishes only let your dog drink so much at a time, which can make it easier to stop hiccups from occurring. Anything that stops your dog from taking in more air will help him or her to avoid this annoying problem.
If your dog does have hiccups, you can do a few basic things to help him or her calm down and get rid of the issue. You can try to get your dog to drink a little bit of water, attempt to feed him or her a sweet dog treat, or – if all else fails – to frighten your dog. Yes, this solution is at least as effective in dogs as it is in humans, though might feel a little worse when you scare a dog.
Dog Hiccups and Your Pet
Above all else, don’t panic if your dog starts to have hiccups. It’s really not a problem on its own and you definitely don’t need to break the bank every time your dog starts to make a noise that you don’t understand. Simply stop, observe your dog, and make sure that he or she recovers. You really only need to be worried if your dog has a host of other symptoms alongside those hiccups or if the hiccups seem to be causing your dog distress. Otherwise, you’ll just end up dealing with a silly noise that will end up going away on its own.
Try to relax when your dog has hiccups. Laugh along, help him or her out, and go about your day. Sometimes biology is a funny thing and understanding this will definitely help with your stress level.