Why Does My Dog Have Hiccups?

Dogs are fascinating creatures, as any dog-owner will tell you. They are wonderful to spend time with, and you could easily lose hours simply watching your dog running around having fun.

The more time that you spend with your dog, the more likely you are to pick up on personality quirks, and changes in their behavior. One quirk that can come as a shock the first time that you hear it is hiccups. 

Just like humans, man’s best friend can also get hiccups, and they usually start when your dog is still a puppy. As puppies are so small, when they first experience hiccups, it can be very alarming due to the sudden jerking your puppy will begin to have.

But, rest assured, in most cases hiccups are perfectly normal. They are no more alarming in dogs and puppies than they are in humans. But why do dogs get hiccups? In this guide, we’ll be answering just that. 

Note: this post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

Why Do Dogs Get Hiccups?

When your dog first gets hiccups, it can come as a real surprise. If you are new to owning a dog, then you might not have realized that this is something dogs can experience, and it might get you wondering what has caused them. 

Hiccups are very common in humans, and there are all sorts of myths about what is the cause of them. But, hiccups in humans are primarily caused by irritation of the diaphragm, and irritation of the eardrums. But what is the cause of hiccups in dogs?

The physical cause of hiccups in dogs is very similar to the cause of hiccups in humans. So, hiccups in dogs are caused by an involuntary spasm in the diaphragm.

This spasm causes your dog’s vocal cords to close off, creating a ‘hiccup’ sound. This is what physically causes hiccups, but there are lots of different things that can lead to this happening. 

You might notice that hiccups are a lot more common when your dog is still a puppy. But, as your puppy ages and grows, they will begin to experience hiccups less.

Scientists don’t actually know the reason behind this, but it is assumed that puppies experience hiccups more frequently because they are still learning. 

When your puppy is young, they may experience hiccups for lots of different reasons. If they are over-tired, your puppy will get hiccups. If they eat or drink too quickly, they will get hiccups. And if they are over-excited, they will get hiccups.

As your puppy grows older, they will learn how to manage these behaviors better, which is why hiccups become less common as dogs age. 

Are Puppy Hiccups Common?

As we have said, hiccups are incredibly common in puppies. So, if your puppy suddenly begins experiencing hiccups, there is no need to be alarmed. While it is unpleasant to watch your puppy experiencing hiccups, in most cases they are not life-threatening, and they will pass quite quickly. 

Puppy hiccups are linked to all sorts of puppy behaviors. From getting over-excited to being overly-tired. From drinking too quickly to swallowing without chewing. There are all sorts of puppy behaviors that can cause hiccups, and this is why hiccups are more common when dogs are puppies. 

As your dog grows older, they will learn how to drink and eat at the correct pace. Likewise, your dog will learn how to manage their excitement, and will sleep whenever they need to.

So, your puppy will experience hiccups less as they transition from childhood to adulthood, and hiccups will become less common.

Are Hiccups Bad for Dogs?

Up until this point, we have made it clear that hiccups usually aren’t a cause for concern in dogs. Especially if your dog is a puppy. But, we have put clear emphasis on “most of the time”.

Even though hiccups are common in puppies, and usually not a worry in dogs, there are some cases where hiccups are a sign that something is wrong with your dog. 

Most of the time, hiccups are not a cause for concern. But, if your dog does experience hiccups very regularly, or if their hiccups begin to sound quite wheezy, then this should be a cause for worry.

So, if your dog experiences hiccups for more than a couple of hours at a time, or if their hiccups appear to be causing them breathing problems, then you should seek veterinary help immediately. 

Hiccups usually aren’t a worry, so there is no need to panic every time that your dog experiences them. But, remain vigilant when they do get hiccups, and look for any signs of discomfort to ensure that you step in and get your dog help if they need it. 

How do you Stop Hiccups in a Dog?

Once you know that hiccups aren’t a sign that something is wrong with your dog, they can quickly become annoying. When this happens, you might find yourself eagerly searching for ways to stop your dog’s hiccups. So, let’s take a look at the best way to help ease your dog’s hiccups. 

One of the best ways to help ease your dog’s hiccups is to give their chest a gentle massage. This will help soothe the diaphragm and also distract them from their hiccups, which can cause them to stop.

Alternatively, you might want to try gently startling your dog, or encouraging light exercise as this can help to slow their breathing which will also stop the hiccups. 

But, in most cases, your dog’s hiccups will pass rather quickly. So, it is likely that you won’t need to do anything to help stop their hiccups. They will simply stop on their own, and if after a couple of hours your dog is still hiccuping, you should contact a vet to be safe.

Summary

In short, dogs get hiccups due to an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm. This is much more common in puppies as this spasm can be triggered by being overly tired, over-excited, eating too quickly or drinking too much.

Usually hiccups will pass on their own very quickly, but if they don’t pass after a few hours, you should contact your vet for advice. 

PuppyLists is written by J., who has owned, trained, volunteered with, and loved dogs for nearly three decades. When she isn't writing or researching, she's out adventuring with her 14 year old Lab mix.