Can a dog get hiccups? The answer is, YES. Like human beings, dogs can get hiccups for reasons such as eating too fast and overexcitement. Luckily hiccups in dogs are usually harmless. They usually go away on their own in a matter of minutes. Here we discuss in details the common causes along with how to get rid of dog hiccups.
Dog Hiccups Signs and Symptoms
The main sign of hiccups in dogs is the hiccupping sound. In case you are wondering, “What do dog hiccups sound like?” it is no different to the squeaky “Hic” sound made by humans when experiencing hiccup episodes. You may also notice or feel a slight spasm (tightening) in your dog’s chest or abdomen during the hiccup episodes. The tightening usually occurs just before the sound. Some dogs hiccup at night in their sleep while others hiccup when lying down, the first thing in the morning, or after eating.
Dog Hiccups Causes
Hiccups are sudden, uncontrollable contractions or spasms of the diaphragm (the thin layer of muscles between the chest cavity and the abdomen). As the diaphragm tightens, the dog breathes in the air very quickly only for the glottis (the thin opening between the vocal chords) to close suddenly and stop the airflow. This action produces the characteristic hiccup sound. There are several possible underlying causes of dog hiccups including:
- Eating too fast. Dogs often get hiccups when they gobble down their food in a hurry. This causes them to swallow in too much air along with their food. If your dog hiccups after eating, you now know why.
- Dietary triggers. Your canine friend can get hiccups when digesting her food if it is very high in grains. Spicy foods can also cause hiccups in dogs.
- Stress and fatigue. Stress is also believed to trigger hiccups in dogs.
- Exposure to irritants. Cigarette smoke is a classic dog irritant but chemical fumes and other air pollutants can also be to blame.
- Certain medications. Some medications such as muscle relaxers can trigger hiccups in dogs.
- Some dogs develop spasms of the diaphragm when they get too excited and embark on a spirited barking. This causes too much air to enter their body, ultimately leading to hiccups.
- Underlying condition. In rare cases, hiccups in dogs are a manifestation of an underlying respiratory condition such as asthma or pneumonia. Hypothermia (very low body temperature) could also be to blame. If hiccupping is accompanied by coughing and breathing difficulty, it is best to see your veterinarian right away.
Puppies tend to get hiccups more than their older counterparts, but they eventually outgrow the problem in the majority of cases. This usually happens around the age of 1 year, after which hiccups become drastically reduced if not gone completely.
How to Get Rid Of Dog Hiccups
My dog has hiccups, what should I do? Does that sound like you? Although alarming, dog hiccups are not a cause for concern. They are normal and rarely last more than a few minutes. There are still a few tips and home treatment remedies that can help to prevent and shorten episodes of hiccups in dogs. Here are some of these home remedies:
Watch Out What and How Your Dog Eats
Often, your dog’s diet and eating habits are to blame for episodes of hiccups. Here are few tips that you may find helpful in stopping hiccups:
- Introduce your dog to low-grain foods. Switching to low-grain foods is helpful for some dogs.
- Serve your dog’s food on a wide bowl. Placing the feeding bowl on an elevated surface may also help your dog’s eating.
- Modify your dog’s feeding dish to make her eat slowly. Place a clean object that is huge enough to make it impossible for your dog to swallow (e.g. a rock or toy) at the center of your dog’s feeding dish. There are as well specially designed dog feeders with finger-like projection to make your dog take it slow. NorthMate Green Slow Feeder and Company of Animals Interactive Feeder are good examples.
Give Water to Your Canine Friend
Giving water to a hiccupping dog often helpful. Drinking makes the dog change the breathing pattern which then helps to remedy the hiccups. You may want to add a teaspoon or so of honey, sugar, or maple syrup.
Distract Your Dog
Disrupting the breathing pattern can help to stop hiccups and what a better way to do that than with something that shifts their focus. You will never go wrong with throwing your dog’s favorite toys to them or playing with them. Distracting your dog is particularly helpful for hiccups triggered by stress or being scared.
Massage Your Dog’s Chest
As we established earlier, dog hiccups are caused by contraction or tightening of the diaphragm muscles. Relaxing the muscles can, therefore, help to reverse the problem. Massaging your dog’s chest does exactly that and will, therefore, help to stop the hiccups.
Calm Your Dog Down
Overexcitement is a common trigger of hiccups in dogs. If you find your dog particularly hyper, helping her take it slow may be all that is needed to regulate her breathing pattern and stop the hiccups. If you have been exercising or playing with the dog, for example, you should consider taking a break. If you suspect that your dog is stressed, place her in a comforting place e.g. your laps and pet her gently for some few minutes to make her relax.
Keep Your Dog Warm
If you suspect that your canine friend has developed hiccups as a result of hypothermia, you should keep her warm. Wrap a blanket around her and move her to a warm room immediately. Placing your pooch near a heater may also help to increase her body temperature.
Treat Your Dog
With the exception of hiccups that occur after eating, feeding your dog a snack could help to alter their breathing pattern and thus eliminate the problem.
That is how to get rid of dog hiccups but in most cases, the hiccupping will go away long before you think about using these remedies.
When to See a Vet for Dog Hiccups
Dog hiccups go away in a few minutes. If they take longer than a few minutes, take your pooch to the veterinarian. Non-stop hiccups may be indicative of underlying health issues such as asthma, pneumonia and heart disease among others. Your vet will help to rule them out.
If your dog hiccups a lot, it is also a cause for concern. You will want to see a vet if hiccups occur constantly – very frequently – throughout the day or week.
Veterinary treatment of hiccups usually involves treating the underlying condition. If your dog hiccups all the time yet no underlying condition is identified, your veterinarian may them prescribe Chlorpromazine or haloperidol. These medications help to relax the diaphragm muscles.
In rare cases, when hiccups don’t respond to these medications, surgery may be used to treat the problem. The surgical intervention targets the phrenic nerve and although effective in relaxing the diaphragm, it is reserved as a treatment of the last resort.
Dog Hiccups Video
To close off, here is a YouTube video showing a dog with hiccups. It will give you an idea how dog hiccups look and sound like. That way you will be able to know if your dog is actually hiccupping.
American Animal Hospital: Why Does My Puppy Hiccup?
Vetinfo: Do Dog Hiccups Require Treatment?