We never want to see our dogs in any amount of pain, even if it’s as mild as a simple inconvenience. One of those milder things that often tend to pull on our heartstrings is our dogs having hiccups. If you’re curious about what’s going on with your dog or when you should be concerned about your dog’s hiccups, read on to find out everything that you need to know!
What are hiccups?
As you might be able to guess, hiccups in dogs are the exact same things that they are in humans. They’re involuntary spasms of the diaphragm that cause the little “hic” sound and the jostle of the stomach and throat.
Hiccups can be spaced out and gentle and mild or close together and severe. If you’ve ever had different kinds of hiccups, then you know what it feels like. This is exactly what it feels like for your dog!
Sometimes dogs can be a little nervous about hiccups, mostly because they don’t understand what’s going on. From the time that we’re little and first have hiccups, we’re told what they are and, while annoying, are most likely harmless. Since dogs don’t have anyone explaining this for them (in their own language), this can cause confusion and uneasiness.
Are hiccups common with dogs?
Hiccups are very common in dogs. They’re actually more common in puppies since they’ll learn over time what causes the hiccups and how to avoid them. However, dogs of all ages can have hiccups, and they can be common or rare. It just depends on the dog and the reason why they are hiccupping!
Speaking of reasons…there are several suspected causes behind hiccups in dogs. The most common ones include:
- Eating too fast
- Drinking too fast
- Getting excited
- Feeling tired
- Being cold
There’s no one certain cause of hiccups, just like there is no one certain way to get them to go away. Hiccups are as mysterious in dogs as they are in humans that way!
Eating and drinking too fast are thought to be the most common cause of hiccups, especially in puppies. They get so interested in their food and water that they don’t pace themselves and fill their stomachs with air. This air can cause hiccups.
Being excited and tired can also cause hiccups in your dog, though it’s a mystery as far as why it causes their diaphragm to spasm. The best guess is that they’ll shake out of excitement or fatigue, and this causes the spasms to start coming.
If your dog is cold, they’ll shiver just like humans. During this shivering process, it can set off a case of hiccups.
Is my dog going to be okay if they have the hiccups?
While it’s understandable if you’re feeling concerned about your dogs and their hiccups, you’ll be relieved to know that your dog is going to be okay. Hiccups are very common and are not typically connected to any underlying health issues. Your dog’s muscles just got a little too excited, and this caused the spasms.
How to treat my dog’s hiccups
You can help your dog through their hiccups much the same as you would with a human. Since hiccups can be unsettling and irritating, here are some ways to help your dog through the worst of the storm.
Keep them calm: Dogs can get keyed up and/or anxious about everything, and hiccups are no exception. One of the best things that you can do is to keep them calm so that their body is more likely to settle and relax than get tensed up. Not only will this make the hiccups go away faster, but it’ll also help your dog stay relaxed emotionally for a better stress-free experience.
Give them a belly rub or play gently with them: While you don’t want to get them all riled up, you can certainly play with your dog. This will help distract them from what’s happening and show them that everything is okay. You can also get them to flip on their back and give them a belly rub. This can actually help their hiccups to settle faster, and it also helps them to relax physically and emotionally as they enjoy some bonding with you.
Encourage them to drink water: Whether it’s just an old wives’ tale or not, drinking water is said to help the diaphragm relax faster. If you can, convince your dog to drink water regularly. The motion of it can help them recover easier and faster.
Prevention – Consider making changes to their food dishes: If you notice that your dog gets the hiccups after eating their food every night, then it’s most likely that they’re eating too fast and giving themselves a case of the hiccups. For this reason (and others), you can consider changing out their regular food dish for a puzzle dish. This forces them to eat slower, and it can help them to stay hiccup-free! Check your local pet store, or search online for “dog puzzle bowl” to find the right size for your pooch. Maze and elevated ridge patterns in the bowl are designed to slow down your dogs, cats and other pets’ quick eating habit in order to prevent gulping and choking. Effort to forage through the ridges and mazes for food will lengthen your pet’s meal time and prevent bloating, indigestion and over-eating. An added bonus: Mental enrichment helps to meet a dog’s instinctual need to keep their minds active and engaged, preventing boredom and reducing stress levels. Slow feeder bowls are a great way to provide mental enrichment for dogs, as they have to use their problem-solving skills to figure out how to access the food.
When to go to a vet
While hiccups are harmless in most cases, you still will want to watch out for your dog’s best interests and make sure that you’re ready to jump into action if you need to. You might want to consider going to the vet has hiccups that fall under the following categories:
- They last a few hours
- They get worse instead of better
- They happen a lot and distress your dog
- Your dog is wheezing
As you can see, it’s all about keeping an eye on your dog’s discomfort. If they seem fine and just have the hiccups, they most likely are. If you notice these kinds of symptoms, getting a professional opinion is certainly important in case there is something going on with your dog’s health.
Dog hiccups are harmless most of the time, but it’s totally expected to want to know everything you can about it and what to do for your dog’s overall comfort and safety! These tips will give you just the know-how that you deserve!