Sometimes, when your puppy hiccups, it is adorable. Other times, the sight of your little pup convulsing due to strong hiccups is concerning. And that can make your heart quiver a little. But, let’s start on a positive note- yes, dogs can get hiccups. It is totally normal and often short-lived. Its occurrence is as common to dogs as it is to us.
However, are all dog hiccups harmless? Or do they imply some underlying medical conditions? Most importantly, why do dogs get hiccups?
Here’s a detailed look at dogs and hiccups that might answer some of your queries.
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Hiccups and History
Hiccups are involuntary spasms of respiratory organs and the diaphragm. These spasms are generally the consequence of irritation to some nerves, causing the sudden closing of the epiglottis. Hence, resulting in a gulping-like ‘hic’ sound.
Scientists and experts aren’t yet sure as to why hiccups occur in mammals. They have speculated several theories relating to human and other animal evolution. For instance, one theory is that hiccups might be a leftover from our earlier stage of development. Presumably, when humans resembled tadpoles and possessed both lungs and gills, it is believed that the hiccupping process helped in controlling gill ventilation.
Another theory includes the documented hiccups in the womb of several mammals. These fetus hiccups imply that the baby is testing his/her breathing muscles in the womb. We may not know the actual source of a hiccup, but rest assured, it is rarely a serious problem.
Can Dogs Get Hiccups?
Firstly, let’s start with “what are dog hiccups?”. In simple terms, dog hiccups are caused when their diaphragm spasms and doesn’t sync with their epiglottis. Just like humans, dogs can get hiccups. Usually, they are more common in puppies than older dogs because they tend to have more energy and excitement level. But your pup will outgrow this condition as they get older.
When Do Dogs Get Hiccups? Again, just like their human counterparts, dogs get hiccups when their diaphragm contracts. These bouts are more likely to occur when puppies eat or drink too fast, or when they’re tired, excited, or cold. It is also believed that hiccups help puppies relieve stomach gas or irritation.
What Causes Hiccups in Dogs?
Experts may not have given us the exact reason for why hiccups occur but, there are some possible causes of hiccups that are listed below :
- One of the main causes for dog hiccups is excitement or increased energy levels. Over-stimulated pooches, mainly puppies, tend to catch hiccups more often. They are not good at controlling their emotions therefore their stress, and fatigue can also lead to hiccups.
- Another common cause of hiccups is eating or drinking quickly. When your pup gulps down food faster than usual, there is more swallowing of air with the food, hence, the occurrence of bouts of hiccups.
Although hiccups in dogs are usual, some rare cases might indicate a more severe problem. According to research, when hiccups last for more than 48 hours, they may be signs of critical health issues.
Here’s a list of potential (severe) causes that may have caused your furry companion to breathe spasmodically:
When hiccups come alongside sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and a runny nose, it is not a good sign for dogs. It might indicate respiratory infections like pneumonia, stroke, asthma, or bronchitis. These health problems can be life-threatening too.
If your pup has been hiccupping for a prolonged time, followed by diarrhea and vomiting, it is a big red flag! Sometimes worms like heartworms and roundworms can infect your dog’s respiratory tracts and cause these symptoms. If this is the case, visit your vet as soon as possible.
3. Gastric problems
At times, gastrointestinal issues can also cause persistent hiccups in dogs. Although there is a list of problems that these issues can give rise to, the symptoms are same as those caused by parasitic infection. If you notice vomiting, blood in stools, and diarrhea with the ‘hic’ sound, take your furry friend to the vet for a thorough examination.
What to Do When My Dog Has Hiccups?
Most of the time, dog hiccups pass quickly. You don’t have to try to get rid of them necessarily. However, these spasmodic breathes can sometimes be violent. Therefore, if you want to help your poor pooch, here are a few tips to get rid of their hiccups:
- Calm your dog’s irregular breathing by giving them a soothing chest rub. It can help their breathing process to be steady so that the hiccups can subside.
- Slow down your pup at dinner time. Eating too fast can cause hiccups; therefore, you might want to slow down your dog’s food intake. You could also try reducing the portions of your dog’s food.
- Give water. Just like humans, drinking water can help with hiccups. Make sure your four-legged friend drinks it slowly and calmly.
When Should I Take My Dog To The Vet if They Have Hiccups?
You have tried the above options, but the hiccup still persists for hours. Moreover, this spasmodic episode is followed by other health problems like sneezing, runny nose, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody stools, then it is high time that you see a veterinarian. Your vet will likely take a thorough history of your sick pet, note specific details like when and how the problem starts, how long the bouts last, what seemed to have triggered them, and if there was anything unusual. The doctor will also conduct a physical examination, including the x-rays of the chest and abdomen.
Sometimes, other conditions like reverse sneezing and focal seizures can also be mistaken for hiccups. For this, the vet will record episodes of hiccups over several days. This recording will help to finalize what is actually happening to your pup.
The answer to “Can Dogs Get Hiccups?” is yes, dogs can get hiccups, but it is not much to worry about. Hiccups in dogs are as common as they are to us. There are only a few rare cases when your canine companion’s spasmodic breaths are concerning. Nevertheless, take notice of any unusual health changes such as sneezing, coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea that can come alongside the bouts of hiccups.