Why Do Dogs Get Hiccups? Do You Ever Need to Worry?

why do dogs get hiccups

Dogs make all sorts of fun noises. As devoted pet owners, we’ve seen it all. From the adorable sneezes to the hilarious play growling, there’s no shortage of vocalizations our dogs express. But when it comes to more unexpected noises, it’s totally normal to be a little concerned about your dog!

Whether your dog starts sighing or hiccuping, your first instinct is probably to search for answers. Why do dogs get hiccups? Well, you’ve landed in the right place! Let’s dive right in and decode the mystery of those cute but strange hiccups. 

Decoding the Mystery of Why Dogs Get Hiccups

Have you ever been in the middle of an energetic play session with your dog or watched them devour their food and realized moments later they’re stuck in a cycle of hiccups? This often looks and sounds painful, but the hiccups dogs experience are exactly the same as human hiccups.

What Causes Hiccups?

Simply put, hiccups are diaphragm spasms. The spasm causes the opening between the vocal cords, known as the glottis, to close abruptly. When a dog’s diaphragm contracts suddenly like this, it produces the classic hiccup noise. Hiccups can sometimes be a little uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t be painful.

Scientists still don’t know the root cause behind human or dog hiccups. However, there are plenty of common causes that lead to them. 

Puppy Hiccups

Have you ever noticed puppies get hiccups more frequently than adult dogs? There is a theory to explain why this happens. One theory is that puppies are instinctively continuing a practice they started in the womb. Fetal hiccups have been recorded in all mammalian species, including dogs. It’s thought that hiccuping in the womb is a way for fetuses to test out their breathing muscles.

This theory can help explain why puppies get hiccups and why they’re so prevalent, but what about adult dogs? There are a lot of potential explanations for why dog hiccups occur, so let’s dive right in!

Adult Dogs

There are a lot of reasons why dogs get hiccups. Hiccuping is often caused by dogs eating or drinking too quickly, becoming overexcited, overexerting themselves during playtime, or struggling with an upset tummy.

Hiccups can look very uncomfortable, and all pet parents want to make sure their pet’s health isn’t in danger. The general thought about why dogs experience hiccups is they swallow air in large quantities or too quickly. Too much air in the stomach seems to lead to these types of uncontrollable spasms in several species, including humans, dogs, and cats. 

white samoyed dog

Are Hiccups The Same As Reverse Sneezing?

As devoted pet parents, our first instinct is to get to the root of the issue when hearing your dog making a strange noise. A common phrase you may have come across in your research is reverse sneezing. This is a totally different occurrence than hiccups, and there’s an easy way to tell the difference.

What’s the Difference Between Reverse Sneezing and Hiccups In Dogs?

Reverse sneezing occurs when a dog inhales irritants. Their body forcefully inhales air in an effort to clear the sinuses and this causes a sudden grunting noise. It can sound pretty scary, but this is perfectly normal and completely harmless. Dog hiccups are also perfectly normal, but they make a very different noise, and that’s the easiest way for pet owners to tell the difference.

Can You Prevent Hiccups?

Even though hiccups aren’t usually painful, they’re often very uncomfortable! Dogs with a naturally anxious temperament may become even more unsettled when battling a bout of hiccups, and it’s natural for loving pet owners to look for ways to prevent this from happening. 

There aren’t any ways that 100% guarantee your dog won’t get the hiccups. However, there are some strategies you can use! We’re going to break down how to prevent hiccups based on what usually sets off a hiccuping spree in dogs. 

Eating & Drinking Too Quickly

Many dogs devour their food and water as if they’re starving or stranded in a desert! While this behavior can look incredibly cute, it’s not the healthiest way for them to eat and drink. Dog hiccups are often caused by this behavior, so stopping them from eating too quickly is an excellent way to prevent hiccup episodes. 

There are lots of fun devices to prevent your dog from eating or drinking too quickly. One of the best methods is to use a slow-feeding bowl or a puzzle toy. These dog food bowls have little built-in obstacles that your dog must work around to get every last piece of food. They can’t consume it too quickly, which greatly reduces their chances of getting hiccups.

Preventing your dog from drinking water too quickly could be more of a challenge. The simplest method is to give them their water in portions. Dogs generally need to drink 1oz of water per pound of body weight each day. So, if you have a little 15 lb Chihuahua, they would need 15 oz of water each day.

Portion control is the key to preventing dog hiccups. Watch them while they’re drinking water, and make sure you’re offering small amounts frequently throughout the day.

Overexcited & Overexertion 

The other common cause of hiccups is when dogs get overexcited during playtime or overexert themselves. This can lead to them swallowing too much air and trigger hiccups. It’s hard to keep your pup from becoming too excited, but there are some tips that can help. 

  • Watch your dogs for signs of overstimulation. If they become so hyped up that they’re sprinting all over the place, literally bouncing off the walls, and unable to calm down, then it’s time to take a little break. 
  • Provide plenty of water during playtime to prevent them from becoming dehydrated and overexerting themselves. 
  • Plan your playtime and outdoor adventures around your dog’s fitness levels. If you have a pup that’s prone to leg issues, like a Basset Hound, then keep your walks short and avoid steep inclines/declines.
  • Introduce a soothing toy. Soothing toys can be anything that helps your dog settle down. My Pitbull had a blanket she loved to lay and chew on, so I could give that to her when she was getting overexcited. You could use a favorite bone, rubber chew toy, or even a dog pacifier!

Upset Stomach

If your dog gets the hiccups frequently and you think the cause is an upset stomach, then it might be time to take a look at their diet. Research different fresh dog food brands and make sure you’re providing them with a healthy diet. Try to cut back on foods or treats that seem to upset their digestive system or cause a lot of gas. 

As a devoted pet owner, then you probably know the next step is to speak with their vet. Dogs with frequent upset stomachs may have underlying issues, like acid reflux, that require a more intensive diet modification or even medication to get under control. 

dog with mouth open

How To Stop Hiccups 

It’s awful watching your dog be uncomfortable, especially if they’re naturally nervous and frightened by hiccups. Unfortunately, hiccups seem to fade away with no rhyme or reason, but there are still a few things you can do to speed up the process. 

One idea is to try giving your dog water. Sometimes the act of drinking can eliminate hiccups. Just make sure they’re drinking slowly and calmly! Another method is to encourage your dog to lie on their back and give them a nice tummy rub. You’re essentially massaging the excess air out of their system. Gentle tummy rubs are great for relieving gas and excess air, and your dog will love the extra bonding time.

Why Do Dogs Get Hiccups – Are They Dangerous?

Hiccups aren’t dangerous for dogs and generally aren’t cause for concern. Of course, it’s only natural to feel protective of your four-legged best friend. If your pup seems unusually uncomfortable from the hiccups and frequently has an upset stomach, then it might be time to make a call to your vet. In the meantime, check out the rest of BarkingTalk for more helpful dog advice!

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