Dogs hiccup in a similar way as humans do. But are dog hiccups faster and are there any differences between human and dog hiccups?
Let’s dive in to determine whether dog hiccups are faster, why a dog may seem to hiccup rapidly, how long hiccups last and whether dog hiccupping is bad.
Are dog hiccups faster?
Dog hiccups are not faster compared to human hiccups, however, they are slightly more dramatic causing their chest to vibrate forcefully with quick breaths causing a rise and fall of the abdomen. Rapid-like hiccups may also be due to a rare condition called synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF) which causes rapid diaphragm contractions.
Just like in humans, dog hiccups should last a few minutes but if they become frequent, persistent, and last more than an hour it may indicate that there is a more serious underlying problem.
What is Synchronous Diaphragmatic Flutter (SDF) in dogs?
Synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF) is a rare condition that causes repeated involuntary spasms of the diaphragm, whose contractions are synchronous with the heartbeat.
The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest area and the abdomen area in a dog. SDF causes the muscle to have repetitive and rhythmic movements that are seen as rapid movements at the front of the body.
The cause of SDF is not well understood but is linked to low calcium levels in a dog’s body. The low calcium levels cause the phrenic nerve, which controls the movement of the diaphragm, to become hyperexcited, which spurs the contraction of the diaphragm.
The phrenic nerve runs over the heart’s right side and because of the nerve’s excited state, the contractions of the diaphragm synchronize with the heartbeat.
The spasms can be sudden, lasting for a few minutes to more than an hour.
This movement is often mistaken as being hiccups but they are not, however, the contraction of the diaphragm due to this condition also triggers hiccup production.
What is the sound of dog hiccups?
The sound of dog hiccups is similar to a human hiccup but in addition to this sound, dogs can also produce occasional burps or not produce any sound at all in some cases.
Irritation, injury, or any inflammation can trigger spasms of the diaphragm muscle and the ‘hic’ sound is produced when the glottis closes causing a temporary halt of airflow through the vocal cords, which produces the sound.
The below shows are an adult dog with hiccups and what they sound like in a dog:
Why is my dog rapidly hiccuping?
A dog can be rapidly hiccuping because dog hiccups usually appear more forceful and dramatic. Some illnesses such as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter may also cause rapid hiccups to occur.
How long do dog hiccups last?
Normal dog hiccups should last no more than 10 to 15 minutes however in some cases they can prolong for more than a few hours which indicates there may be a health problem. Dog hiccups that occur longer than one hour and are more frequent should not be taken lightly.
Always reach out to your dog to have them examined to determine whether there is something else other than hiccups that may be the problem.
Related: Why does my Great Dane get hiccups?
Is dog hiccuping bad?
Dog hiccuping is not bad and does not harm your dog. However, in some cases, it can be an indication of an underlying serious health problem.
Hiccups also do not have any protective or productive benefit to a dog like other reflex actions such as sneezing which helps to expel irritants from the respiratory system.
They are normal and common, but the exact purpose why they occur is not clearly understood by scientists.
In some cases, a dog may not not be having hiccups but rather displaying other symptoms of other conditions such as reverse sneezing, coughing, vomiting, retching, and seizures. It is easy to confuse the symptoms of these conditions with hiccups.
If in doubt if your dog is having hiccups or not, consult your veterinarian to confirm. The veterinarian will also confirm or rule out any health problem.
Read more: What does it mean when your puppy hiccups?
Hiccups in dogs may seem faster because of the forceful chest vibrations, however, they are similar to human hiccups in terms of the frequency of spasms of the diaphragm. In rare cases, a dog may have a health condition that causes the diaphragm to have rapid spasms which trigger hiccups.
Hiccups in many cases are harmless and should not cause any worry however if the hiccups become frequent and prolonged this is where you should contact your veterinarian to examine your dog. This will help to rule out any underlying conditions.