Hiccup! Why does my puppy or dog get them?

Hiccups are usually harmless and are rarely serious. Basically, the source is spasms of the diaphragm. This can be caused by excitement, eating too fast, irritants, or stress.

Puppies that hiccup usually do so first thing in the morning after waking up, after a nap, after eating, or after being overly excited. Some pups can even hiccup in their sleep!

Hiccup Fountains

Hiccups are so common; some vets think they may be part of the long list of “growing pains” that some puppies must endure during the process of physical and mental maturation. In general, the episodes begin to lessen as they get older and disappear completely by the time the puppy is 8 months to 1 year old.

Other vets claim it’s a vestigial reflex that many puppies have from their days in the womb. It was a way that they could exercise their lungs and strengthen the muscles of their esophagus, while literally being “under water.” Most pups stop once their lungs adjust to oxygen and a drier environment.

There is no reason to worry if the hiccup episodes last less than an hour. If they continue for longer or are chronic, it is suggested to consult with your vet. Sometimes hiccups, when combined with other symptoms, can be a symptom of heart disease, hypothermia, asthma, or other respiratory diseases.

Hiccup Treatments

As a general rule, it is best to do nothing. Often the stress exhibited by their humans only exacerbates the pup’s anxiety. However, some find it difficult to do nothing when they feel their pet is in trouble.

The goal is simply to change your pup’s breathing rate.

This can be done by distracting them and giving them something different to focus on. Offering a ball or squeaking a toy may be enough of an interruption for most to breathe normally again.

Offering a treat, food, or water can also help change his breathing pattern.

Others find that exercising and playing with their pet helps not only their pet, it helps calm them down too!

If arousal is the trigger for your pup’s hiccups, try to tone it down a bit. Massaging your pup instead of inciting more excitement can help him relax and start breathing normally.

There are medications that your vet can recommend if the problem persists. They will help relax the diaphragm muscles.

In extreme cases where there may be a physical abnormality, surgery is an option.

In short: keep calm. Hiccups are usually just as normal for your puppy or dog as it is for you.

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