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Can Dogs Get Hiccups? Causes & Prevention

Kit Copson

By Kit Copson

Drooling sleepy Irish Setter_Reddogs_shutterstock

Sometimes, dogs get hiccups just like we do. If you’ve spotted your dog making little “hic” noises and are worried, know that, in most cases, having the hiccups is completely normal and harmless to dogs. Nevertheless, in rare cases, hiccups can indicate a health issue, and it’s good to be aware of these conditions just in case.

Read on to learn all there is to know about dogs getting the hiccups.

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What Causes Dogs to Hiccup?

Hiccups are caused by diaphragm (the muscle between the chest and the abdomen) spasms, which are involuntary contractions. These spasms cause the glottis (which is located between the vocal cords) to close suddenly, and this closure is what causes the “hic” sound.

Though it’s not known exactly what causes dogs (or humans) to hiccup, there are some theories. One of these theories is that hiccupping starts in the womb and is a sort of test for the breathing muscles. Another theory is that hiccups help soothe a dog’s upset stomach. Potential situations that may cause your dog to get the hiccups include:

  • Eating too quickly
  • Drinking too quickly
  • Being stressed
  • Getting overexcited
  • Experiencing severe anxiety
  • Excess gas

Furthermore, puppies tend to experience hiccups more than adult dogs, which may happen because their muscles aren’t fully developed yet so are more likely to spasm. Another possible reason for puppies hiccupping more is that they get excited very easily, which can result in swallowing too much air.

weimaraner eating dog food
Image Credit: Laura Beach, Shutterstock

How to Stop Hiccupping in Dogs

As long as your dog shows no signs of being in discomfort or distress and doesn’t have a medical condition that’s causing their hiccups, hiccups shouldn’t be painful. They could be irritating to your dog, though, so here are some tips for stopping your dog’s hiccups once they’re on a roll:

  • Encourage your dog to drink water at room temperature slowly (you can also try adding a little honey or maple syrup)
  • Give your dog a belly rub
  • Gently massage the chest and throat area
  • Split food into small portions at a time to prevent your dog from wolfing it down
  • Try a slow feeder
  • Don’t offer foods that are too cold or too hot
  • Avoid feeding anything spicy

An important safety tip: if your dog is experiencing strong or violent hiccups, don’t give them any solid food or big meals as they might choke or breathe food into the respiratory tract.

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What Health Conditions Can Cause Hiccups?

The good news is that it’s rare for hiccups to be caused by a medical problem. Nevertheless, pneumonia, heatstroke, heart conditions, asthma, respiratory conditions, and ingesting a foreign body can cause hiccups, so it’s important to be vigilant for signs of your dog being otherwise unwell in addition to the hiccups. Dogs experiencing nausea or an upset tummy might also get hiccups.

a border collie dog looking sick covered with blanket on couch
Image Credit: Lindsay Helms, Shutterstock

Should My Dog See a Vet?

If your dog’s hiccups last for more than a few hours, it’s best to contact your vet as most cases of the hiccups subside within a short period of time. Other additional signs that indicate it’s time to get checked out by a vet include:

  • Wheezing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Your dog appears to be in pain or discomfort
  • Your dog stops eating or drinking
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting

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Final Thoughts

In short, dogs do get hiccups, and most of the time, they’re not caused by anything sinister and don’t hurt your dog at all. However, if your dog seems otherwise unwell or even if you simply feel like something isn’t right, reach out to your vet to rule out potential medical issues.

Featured Image Credit: Reddogs, Shutterstock

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