It might be cute when your puppy starts to hiccup, but if you’ve ever had persistent hiccuping, you will know how frustrating it can be. It’s probably the same for puppies who get hiccups all the time… but that don’t actually understand it like we do – poor things!
But if you are finding that your puppy get hiccups frequently, perhaps after he eats, when he wakes up, at night, when asleep, or in fact just all the time, is it bad?
In this short guide, I will explain why your puppy gets hiccups so often, what causes it, how long it could last, and some tips on how to help them.
Why does my puppy get hiccups?
The reasons that your puppy gets hiccups so can include eating and drinking too fast and swallowing a lot of air. Puppies are still developing, and will wolf food down really quickly, a habit from being in a litter where it’s a mad fight for food, taking in air which can then cause puppy hiccups.
That’s the reason why your puppies get hiccups after eating, and possibly when they nap. Think about it, puppies sleep a lot, so will get hiccups when sleeping, soon after eating.
In terms of the medical explanation for puppies that hiccup a lot, Katherine Ripley of the American Kennel Club writes:
“Just like in humans, a spasm in the diaphragm, the muscle under the lungs, causes hiccups in dogs.”
The involuntary contraction of the diaphragm muscle and sudden closure of the vocal windpipe causes that characteristic “hiccup” sound we find so adorable. Although humans, dogs, horses, cats, squirrels, otters, and even penguins get hiccups, no one actually knows why we (or puppies) hiccup.
There doesn’t seem to be a clear evolutionary use for it. Scientists know that fetuses hiccup, so there is a theory that hiccupping post-partum is just learned behavior from our days hanging out in the womb.
It could be the body’s way of testing your breathing mechanism before you are born.
But no one really knows. The scientific community is baffled. It’s surely the greatest mystery of our time.
In terms of what causes hiccups in puppies, a few things can aggravate the diaphragm:
- Eating too much.
- Eating too quickly.
- Being hyperactive.
All of these things are more common in puppies, so hiccups ensue. Hiccups can also come completely out of nowhere! Don’t be surprised if your little one is hiccupping away as they sleep, wake up, or as they calmly walk around. Hiccups can strike at any time.
Handy Hint: Have you smelt your puppy’s breath, and found it sweet and aromatic? This could be puppy breath, which I explain more about here.
How long do puppy hiccups last?
Puppy hiccups can last from a few seconds to up to 30 minutes. However, if your puppy does have hiccups all the time, or for longer than 30 minutes, you should consult with your vet.
This is particularly important if there is a slight coughing in addition to the hiccups.
Handy Hint: Here are some ways you can try to get rid of your puppy’s hiccups.
How to relieve your puppy’s hiccups
Like with human infants and indeed ourselves, hiccups don’t tend to last long in puppies or adult dogs. A couple of minutes of involuntary spasming and they fade away.
Puppies don’t tend to be as irritated or disturbed by them as we are, but I think that says more about us as a species in general. What other animal finds their bodily functions as annoying as we do?
We get so annoyed by them in fact, we hold our breath and pull out our tongue to try and get rid of hiccups. Kind of crazy when you think about it objectively.
As the diaphragm is a muscle, the best thing to do is to relax and let it work things out on its own. 5 to 10 minutes of hiccupping won’t hurt your puppy at all.
That said, if you do want to help soothe your puppy, there are a couple of things you can try:
1. Don’t force them to hold their breath
We may be insane enough to try this, but it is an old wives’ tale. There is no clear scientific evidence to support the idea that holding your breath or pulling your tongue out actually works for getting rid of hiccups, so don’t do it to your puppy either.
You’ll likely only traumatize them.
2. Rub their belly
Your puppy would love a good belly rub at any time, but especially when they have hiccups. Having them lay down and relax their tummy, you are encouraging the muscles to relax too. This can all help regulate your puppy’s breathing, bringing them back to normal.
3. Play with your puppy
Some physical exercise can be great for resetting your puppy’s breathing patterns. Introduce a light game of fetch to help your dog shake the hiccups.
4. Encourage your puppy to drink water
Now, this home remedy actually does work. Drinking water soothes hiccups in humans as well as canines. Encourage your puppy to drink some fresh water and see if the hiccupping subsides.
Handy Hint: Puppies will often start drinking water from a bowl from 4 weeks of age and onwards. Here’s all you need to know about it.
5. Encourage your puppy to eat slowly
I don’t know about you, but my puppy used to inhale his food! As soon as I put the bowl down, in one fell swoop, he would swallow the whole thing.
15 minutes of hiccups are sure to follow.
Granted, it is isn’t possible to teach your dog to eat slowly as you would communicate with human children but there are a few tricks.
Firstly, don’t excite them too much around mealtimes. Too much bubbling energy won’t help your cause.
Another idea could be to use special slow-release dog bowls to help your pup develop a slower eating habit.
When to contact the vet about puppy hiccups
If your puppy has been hiccupping for more than 30 minutes and appears to be distressed, you should contact your veterinarian for advice.
Difficult breathing and wheezing during hiccups can also be signs that something more serious is happening.
Hiccups are cute. Violent gasps for air are not. Use your best judgment and get medical attention if need be.
Aren’t puppy hiccups the cutest thing?
I cannot lie to you and say that whilst researching this article, I didn’t fall down a bottomless rabbit hole of puppy hiccup videos and wasted an embarrassing amount of my afternoon.
I encourage you to do the same when you are having a trying day!
But bottom line; puppies do get hiccups a lot.
It’s not unusual.
You might also like…
I regularly write about the strange habits of puppies.
- This is when newborn puppies will start to bark
- Here’s also why adult dogs get hiccups and how to stop them
- When can you start handling newborn puppies
Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/water-puppy-drinking-dog-animal-4362726/