It is not uncommon for you to wonder what causes hiccups in dogs. Especially, when you notice that your puppy suffers from hiccups over and over again. For your peace of mind, you should know that every mammal that has a diaphragm can experience hiccups.
Like human hiccups, there really isn’t much to worry about your dog or puppy having hiccups, because it usually disappears after a minute or two. In this article you will find out what causes hiccups, how to help your dog and when to call the veterinarian.
What causes hiccups in dogs?
Hiccups occur when uncontrollable spasms contract the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a skeletal muscle sheet that has a dome shape and separates the chest and abdomen cavities.
When a dog breathes, the diaphragm contracts and moves down, leaving more space in the chest cavity so that the lungs expand with the air. On the other hand, during exhalation, the diaphragm relaxes and rises to the thoracic cavity. Normally, the movements of the diaphragm are smooth and regular, but when the muscle contracts suddenly, hiccups occur.
Simultaneously, the hiccup is accompanied by the sudden closure of the glottis, the narrowest part of your dog’s larynx, which stops the entry of air. This sudden closure is what produces the characteristic sound of hiccups.
Causes of hiccups in dogs
Both puppies and adult dogs have hiccups, and the reasons why they are almost identical. Typically, hiccups occur because of eating too fast, being too excited or energetic, and grain-rich foods.
Puppies, being hyperactive, tend to be more playful and excited. So their enthusiasm when playing or eating makes them more prone to hiccups.
Additionally, it is known that barking too much can also cause hiccups, because too much emotion can induce rapid breathing. And, of course, eating or drinking too fast can cause air to get trapped in the stomach.
Two factors converge in puppies: First, they are more prone to rapid bursts of energy that affect their breathing. Also, their internal organs and systems are less mature, which may contribute to a greater chance of hiccups.
What to do to relieve hiccups in dogs
Fortunately, the advice described here works in most cases. The simplest, however, is simply to observe and see if the hiccups continue for more than a couple of minutes. It usually does not. Among the things you can do:
- Offer water: Drinking water helps the hiccups disappear, as in humans.
- Exercise a little. Whether it’s a good walk in the park, it will surely stimulate your dog, change his heart rate and breathing and cure the hiccups.
- Be sure to feed your dog with low-grain foods. It is known that grain-rich foods often cause hiccups in dogs.
- You can try to massage the chest of your dog to help relax the diaphragm or even gently scare your pet
- Since the hiccups are involuntary and can be violent at times, you should not give the dog anything solid that requires a lot of chewing, since this could cause suffocation.
When to consult with the veterinarian
It is important to note that although it occurs in very rare cases, hiccups could be a sign of a more serious underlying problem.
It is recommended that if the condition occurs frequently or persists for more than about 30 minutes, it is time to call your veterinarian. The hiccups can be worrisome, especially if the dog has a mild cough.
This is because it may be associated with the manifestation of respiratory defects, pneumonia, asthma, pericarditis or heat stroke.
Finally, it is important to highlight that human medicines should NOT be administered to dogs to cure hiccups without proper guidance from a veterinarian. Such medications can harm your dog.