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Hiccups are normal for humans, but what about for dogs? As it turns out, dog hiccups are perfectly normal, and here’s what to know about them.
What Causes Hiccups in Dogs?
Just like in humans, a spasm in the diaphragm (the muscle under the lungs) causes dog hiccups. The spasm causes the glottis (the opening between the vocal cords) to close abruptly. This results in a “hic” sound. Puppies will sometimes get hiccups after eating or drinking too fast, when they are tired, when they are very excited, or when they’re too cold.
Scientists don’t actually know why humans, dogs, and other mammals hiccup. One theory is that hiccups are your puppy’s way of relieving gas or an upset stomach.
Another theory is that hiccups are a leftover from when we were developing in utero. Researchers have documented fetal hiccups in many mammalian species. It’s possible that hiccuping in the womb is a way of test-driving the breathing muscles.
This theory might explain why dog hiccups are much more common in puppies than in adult dogs. As your puppy gets older, they will probably hiccup less frequently, or not at all.
How Can You Get Rid of Dog Hiccups?
Dog hiccups usually go away on their own. There are, of course, many myths about how to get rid of human hiccups, such as holding your breath, pulling on your tongue, or being scared. But no one knows whether these really work.
There’s no point in trying to scare your dog or pull their tongue to get their hiccups to go away. After all, these behaviors will probably bother them more than dog hiccups.
Here are three things that you can do that may help with dog hiccups:
Calm Irregular Breathing
Help your dog’s breathing pattern become more steady and rhythmic. If you get your dog to lie down on their back and rub their stomach, the hiccups may decrease.
Encourage Them to Drink Water
Help Them Eat at a Slower Pace
What if Dog Hiccups Don’t Go Away?
If your dog has hiccups for more than a few hours — or if your dog’s hiccups change to a wheezing sound or they cause irregular or difficult breathing — it’s a good idea to take them to the vet. Long-lasting hiccups could be a symptom of a more serious problem.