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While it can be cute at first when your little puppy gets hiccups, many new pet parents worry that it could be distressing for them or a sign of something more serious.
Fortunately, just like for humans, hiccups are a normal occurrence like sneezing or coughing. Occasional or even frequent bouts of hiccups are nothing to worry about, especially in puppies.
They tend to happen less frequently as dog’s age, but as long as they are short bouts like we are accustomed to as humans, they are no real concern.
Read on as we explain more about doggy hiccups and what the causes in puppies are likely to be. We will also look at some ways that you can help your pup stop their hiccups, though they should stop naturally on their own.
We’ll also have a quick look at when you might want to consider whether the hiccups are a symptom of something else.
Contents & Quick Navigation
What Are Hiccups?
Hiccups are a mammal phenomenon, so they are common for humans and dogs.
Hiccups occur when the nerve endings connected to the diaphragm get irritated. The diaphragm is the muscle that sits between the lungs and the stomach, and usually, it contracts and relaxes as we breathe in and out so that the air can flow easily.
Sometimes, though, our diaphragm can contract repeatedly and involuntarily. This causes the vocal cords to contract as well, which causes that distinctive sound of hiccups.
In humans, swallowing air while eating or drinking too quickly is the most common cause of hiccups, but it can also be caused by sudden changes in temperature or stress.
Common Causes Of Hiccups In Puppies
The causes of hiccups in dogs tend to be the same as the causes of hiccups in people.
If your dog eats or drinks too quickly, they can swallow air which can cause hiccups. If they get over-excited and start panting or yapping, this can also cause them to bring air in the wrong way and result in hiccups. Stress and sudden changes in temperature can also affect your dog in the same way as you.
Hiccups are more common in puppies than adult dogs because puppies are still learning how to eat properly and they tend to be excitable little balls of energy. This is why it can seem like your puppy gets hiccups on a daily basis.
Should You Worry About Puppy Hiccups?
Puppy or doggy hiccups aren’t really anything to worry about. While they might be a bit irritating to your dog, it doesn’t hurt them and it certainly doesn’t cause them any long-term damage. Even if they are getting hiccups on a daily basis, in most cases this isn’t a sign that there is anything wrong with your dog.
However, if hiccups are combined with other symptoms they can occasionally be a warning sign that something isn’t quite right. If their hiccups don’t go away in less than an hour, or if they are accompanied by drooling, lethargy, coughing, wheezing, or hard swallowing, they could be a symptom of a variety of medical conditions.
Hiccups can be an early warning sign for asthma, pneumonia, heart problems, heatstroke, foreign body ingestion, nausea, or an upset stomach, but in these cases, they will almost always be accompanied by other symptoms.
Of course, if your puppy does display this combination of symptoms, you should speak to your vet immediately.
How Do You Stop A Puppy From Hiccuping?
There are many different remedies for curing hiccups in humans, such as holding your breath and swallowing three times or drinking water upside down. How effective these methods are isn’t really scientifically tested, but most people have a preferred method that works for them. Most human methods would be hard to teach to pups, though.
You don’t really have to do anything to get rid of your dog’s hiccups. Their bodies will regularize themselves naturally when left to their own devices, but there are a few things that you can do to speed up the process.
Giving them water to drink is an obvious remedy, but make sure that the water is room temperature rather than cold. Giving them very cold water to drink can actually be one of the causes of hiccups as it can cause sudden changes in their temperature.
Adding a small amount of honey or maple syrup to the water to soothe the throat and vocal cords can also help your puppy to feel a bit better sooner.
Light exercise can also help get rid of the hiccups, as the light exertion will force them to stabilize their breathing. A swift walk around the park might dispel hiccups that don’t seem to go away by themselves after a few minutes.
If your dog likes a nice belly rub, you can also try that. This can relax the diaphragm and stop the involuntary contractions that are causing the hiccups.
How To Prevent Puppy Hiccups?
If your puppy does get hiccups on a regular basis, there are some things you can consider that might help reduce the frequency.
If your dog regularly gets hiccups after eating, the cause is probably that they are eating too fast. If they are gobbling down their food, they are probably also swallowing a lot of air.
To help solve this particular problem, you can try a slow feeder bowl. These bowls have you place the food in a small gap that your dog needs to get into in order to eat. This means that they can’t gobble down their food, as they can only get it out of the bowl bit by bit.
Find slow feeder bowls here on Chewy. If this doesn’t work, you can also try hand feeding your pup their dinner.
If they tend to get hiccups at night, consider whether the change in temperature after dark might be affecting them. If temperatures suddenly drop, it can cause a rapid change in their body heat that could cause their hiccups.
It may be that you need to set the central heating to come on a bit earlier, let your dog in the house earlier in the evening, or make some changes to their bed to make it a warmer place.
If you can’t determine why your dog is hiccuping, and it seems to be happening multiple times a day, you may want to consider whether your pup is stressed.
Look out for other signs of stress such as pacing, licking their lips or yawning excessively, holding their head below their back, an increase in shedding, or excess panting. Hiccups will not usually be the only sign of stress. But if they happen often, they can alert you to look for other signs.
Common Puppy Illnesses
While hiccups are something common to puppies that you don’t need to worry about, there are other symptoms that puppies often display that should act as red flags for their owners. Puppies are much more likely to develop these conditions than adult dogs since they usually occur in puppies before they have been vaccinated.
Symptoms: Lethargy, Weight Loss, And Vomiting
Lethargy, weight loss, and vomiting are some of the most common symptoms associated with Parvo.
Parvo is a very common disease among puppies because it is highly contagious. Your pup can pick it up through direct contact with an infected dog, or indirect contact with something an infected dog has touched.
Puppies often pick it up when sniffing, licking, or consuming the feces of an infected dog, but they can also get it if they drink the same water as a contaminated dog or use their play toy.
Parvo is most common among puppies between six weeks and six months old while they are still being vaccinated. This is one of the main reasons why unvaccinated puppies aren’t allowed in dog parks.
There is no cure for Parvo, and it can be fatal, but if your dog survives the vomiting, diarrhea, and fever for three to four days, they will probably make a complete recovery.
Symptoms: Strong Cough And Runny Nose
Sadly, a strong cough and a runny nose might be a symptom of more than just a cold. These are some of the principal symptoms associated with Kennel Cough, another highly contagious disease. It spreads from infected dogs to healthy dogs through airborne droplets.
If your dog picks up a mild case of Kennel Cough, they may need a couple of weeks (not days) of rest. In more serious cases they may need a two-week round of antibiotics and lots of rest to return to their happy and healthy selves.
Symptoms: Clear Discharge Around The Nose And Eyes
Clear discharge around the nose and purulent eye discharge are some of the first symptoms of distemper, a contagious and fatal doggy disease.
Distemper is similar to measles and quickly spreads throughout multiple different systems in your dog’s body, making it difficult to treat. Dogs can pick it up through direct or indirect contact with infected dogs. It is particularly common in puppies that have not yet been vaccinated.
Distemper is another condition for which there is no treatment. Either your dog’s immune system will fight off the disease within about two weeks, or it won’t.
Symptoms: Diarrhea And Weight Loss
Diarrhea and weight loss are some of the principal symptoms associated with parasites such as worms. Again, dogs tend to pick this up from another dog’s stool or contaminated soil. It is more common in puppies than adult dogs as they have not yet learned to leave feces alone.
Fortunately, parasites can be treated with medication, but they can wreak havoc on your dog’s body in the meantime. This is why most vets will recommend the use of preventative medication for parasites.
You can read more about dogs and parasites here.
Symptoms: Lethargy And Accidents
If your dog seems lazy and more accident-prone than usual, they may have developed Leptospirosis. This is a bacterial disease that is transmitted through contaminated water and infected urine. It affects the kidneys and liver and can result in serious vomiting and diarrhea.
Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics, but it can take pups up to a month to recover.
Symptom: Scratching Ears Or Odor Around Ears
If you spot your dog scratching their ears regularly, or their ears aren’t giving off the most delightful smell, this could be a sign of an ear infection. These especially affect puppies and dogs with floppy ears that cover the ear canal. These leave dark, moist spaces that bacteria love.
Regular cleaning can help prevent ear infections, but if they have already developed one you will need to take them to the vet for medication. Ear issues can affect your dog’s balance and make them a bit clumsier than usual.
Symptoms: Sudden Changes In Behavior
The key to monitoring your puppy’s health is looking out for changes. This could be changes in their digestive routine or just changes in behavior. If they are less energetic than usual or lose interest in something, this can be a sign that something is wrong.
You need to know your puppy’s baseline, and you need to know what changes are a normal part of growing up, but generally speaking, growth changes will see them make gains and health-related changes will cause losses. They could, for example, lose energy or coordination.
If you notice particular changes in your dog’s behavior, including an increase in whining or whimpering, it is time to pay closer attention when monitoring them and maybe speak to your vet.
You can read about the most common health conditions for Labrador Retrievers here.
Do dogs get hiccups?
Yes, most mammals can be prone to the occasional bout of hiccups. They are simply an involuntary twitch in the diaphragm that constrict the vocal cords so you make the hic sound. Most mammals, including dogs, can develop a case of the hiccups.
What causes dog hiccups?
As with human hiccups, it is not 100% clear exactly why hiccups happen, but dogs tend to develop hiccups if they have swallowed too much air, either because they are eating too fast or they are over-excited. Sudden changes in temperature and stress can also cause hiccups.
Is it bad if my dog gets hiccups a lot?
Frequent bouts of hiccups don’t indicate anything about the health of your dog and aren’t dangerous. It can be a sign that they are eating too fast or they are stressed, though, so you might want to deal with these problems which will also help them get hiccups less frequently.
How long do dog hiccups last?
Hiccups can last longer in dogs than humans, as dogs don’t have the same methods for resetting themselves. A bout of hiccups could last two minutes or 15 minutes. Generally speaking, you should only really be worried if your dog keeps hiccuping for more than an hour.
Why do dogs get hiccups at night?
If you live somewhere where temperatures drop significantly when the sun goes down, this could cause your dog to get hiccups at night. The drop in temperature can affect their bodies and cause irritation in the diaphragm.
Can you tell if a dog has a fever by touch?
When dogs have a fever their temperature will likely be up around 103 degrees, so they should feel hot to the touch, but dogs generally run hotter than humans so you may find it difficult to tell if they have a fever.
Fever will often be accompanied by other symptoms such as panting to cool down, shivering, and lethargy. Rather than guess, it is best to take your dog’s temperature with a thermometer.
Since puppies can’t tell us how they feel, good pet parents are always on the lookout for signs of what is going on with their health and wellbeing. Small things like changes in their eating and pooping habits can tell you a lot.
What does it mean when your puppy starts hiccuping? In the vast majority of cases, getting the hiccups for a dog is just like getting hiccups for a human. Some air has come in the wrong way and you are now having some frustrating but innocent spasms.
There are things you can try to help your pup’s hiccups pass more quickly; for example, room temperature water with a little bit of honey or a short walk can do the trick, but if you do nothing, the hiccups will just pass on their own.
Hiccups are only a concerning symptom when combined with other symptoms such as lethargy and vomiting. In fact, excitable puppies tend to get hiccups pretty frequently.
Do you have any tips for helping pups get over the hiccups?
Share them with the community in the comments section below.
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Why Do Puppies Get Hiccups? was last modified: January 30th, 2022 by