It is quite a spectacle to see a puppy have hiccups. The hiccups are similar to human hiccups and sometimes it is unusual to see them from a puppy.
But are puppy hiccups common?
In this article, learn whether puppy hiccups are common, why they happen if you should do something about them, and also simple puppy hiccup remedies.
Are Puppy Hiccups Common?
Puppy hiccups are extremely common, especially between the ages of 4-6 months. This is because puppies are naturally very prone to the development of hiccups, caused by various factors that trigger the diaphragm muscle to spasm causing hiccups.
As puppies get older the hiccups decrease. The hiccups are also experienced as adults or senior dogs but not as frequently as in puppies.
Why Do Puppy Hiccups Happen?
Scientists have not been able to pinpoint why puppy hiccups happen and their purpose. A hiccup is like any other reflex action, that is, a rapid involuntary reaction to a stimulus. Hiccups are an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm due to the irritation of the muscle’s nerves.
But unlike other reflex actions, hiccups do not have any protective or productive purpose.
For example, sneezing is a reflex action that happens when a puppy inhales an irritant and it happens to remove the irritant from the respiratory tract.
It is only a reaction to the irritation of the diaphragm, which makes it have irregular contractions that cause hiccups.
Different theories explain why puppies have hiccups.
This includes hiccups being a natural process that occurs when a puppy is in its mother’s womb to prepare its lungs for breathing outside their womb, brain development, and as a process to aid the expulsion of air from the abdomen after suckling milk.
Various factors can trigger a puppy to have hiccups.
These factors include swallowing a lot of air from excessive barking, rapid drinking or eating, distension of the stomach due to overeating, gastrointestinal disease, stress, over-excitement, inhalation of irritants in the air, and illness.
Should I Do Something About Them?
Puppy hiccups last for a short time, around 10 -15 minutes, and resolve by themselves without needing any intervention. You should not worry about hiccups in your puppies because they are harmless and do not affect your puppy negatively.
However, you should monitor your puppy and take note of whether the hiccups also appear with other symptoms which indicate that may be sick. Some illnesses trigger hiccups.
These symptoms include lethargy, excessive drooling, vomiting, being in pain, coughing, choking, or wheezing.
If present this requires medical attention for the veterinarian to determine the underlying health issue.
Always contact your veterinarian to examine your puppy when the hiccups are accompanied by other symptoms, or prolong for over an hour.
Read more: When to worry about puppy hiccups
Are There Puppy Hiccup Remedies?
So should you just leave your puppy to experience the hiccups? Is there anything you can do? Although puppy hiccups resolve quickly on their own, there is something you can do to comfort them and also encourage the hiccups to go away.
This includes gently massaging your puppy’s chest to try to return the diaphragm to its regular movements. This will relax the diaphragm and stop the hiccups.
Another remedy is to take a non-strenuous walk in your yard or around your neighborhood. This helps your puppy to slowly return to their normal breathing movements which also aids in relieving them of the hiccups.
Recommended reading: When do puppy hiccups stop?
If your puppy also suffers from severe anxiety or stress, try to remove the stress trigger that causes the stress or engage a behavioral trainer to help them to cope with stress.
Water is also a good remedy for puppy hiccups. Provide your puppy with water to drink. You may also add a sweetener such as syrup. The sweet taste of syrup distracts your puppy and helps them to calm down which returns the diaphragm to its normal movements, stopping the hiccups.
If the hiccups come about from playing, encourage your puppy to take a break to slow down the rapid breathing.
To prevent hiccups from occurring, there are also measures you can put in place. If your puppy is a fast eater, provide it as a slow feeding bowl so that they may eat their food slowly and not swallow a lot of air that may trigger hiccups.
Also, feed them small frequent meals spread throughout the day to prevent stomach distension which also causes hiccups. Feeding your puppy one large meal or overfeeding them causes stomach distension which irritates the diaphragm and leads to hiccups.
After mealtime, make sure that your puppy is not over-excited through activities such as play or exercise which can lead to hiccups caused by rapid breathing.
Make sure that their diet is also suitable for them and not one that leads to flatulence and distension of the stomach. High grain diets have been linked to this.
Read more: Puppy hiccups after eating
A distended stomach irritates the diaphragm by pushing on it and causing the muscle to have irregular movements resulting in hiccups.
What Not to Do
Although human hiccups and puppy hiccups are the same, do not use human remedies to help your puppies get over hiccups.
Some human remedies may be harmful to a puppy and not recommended to be used. This includes startling a puppy or forcing them to hold their breath (if it is even possible). This can be detrimental because you will cause stress in them and distrust towards you.
Therefore do not use any human remedies for hiccups on your puppy. If the hiccups prolong and with signs of illness, contact your veterinarian.
Related: Why does my Great Dane get hiccups?
It is not unusual to see a puppy having hiccups. It is quite common and natural. Hiccups should not be a cause of concern, however only if they go on for a long time and a puppy shows signs of sickness.
Therefore now that you know how common puppy hiccups are, you can be at peace knowing that they will decrease as they grow up.