Do Kennel Coughs Sound Like Hiccups? (Facts To Know)

Sometimes dog diseases can be confused for each other because of the slight similarities in their symptoms. 

This is the same between kennel coughs and hiccups. 

So, do kennel coughs sound like hiccups? What is the difference?

This article discusses more in-depth on this to help you know the difference between kennel cough sound and hiccups so that you can tell them apart, and also when to seek help when you suspect your dog has kennel cough.  

Do Kennel Coughs Sound Like Hiccups?

No, kennel coughs do not sound like hiccups. Kennel coughs are persistent hacking and forceful coughs that sound like a goose honk while hiccups are not coughs but a distinctive “hic” sound. Dog hiccups may also be silent with an occasional burp.

The other major difference between kennel cough sound and hiccup sound is how long they last.

Some dogs with kennel coughs have coughs every few minutes while others consistently cough throughout the day and in contrast hiccups only last a few minutes, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

The different distinctive sounds and how long they last help to distinguish between the kennel coughs and hiccups.

Do kennel coughs sound like hiccups

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a very contagious cough of the upper respiratory tract of dogs that is caused by different viruses and most commonly by a bacteria called Bordetella. 

A dog gets the infection when they inhale the viruses and bacteria into the respiratory tract. The main infectious agent is the Bordetella bacteria however when a dog is only infected with other viruses, this can also encourage infection by the bacteria.

Puppies and older dogs have weak immune systems which make them more susceptible to getting the infection.

Usually, the respiratory tract has protection against infection from the inhaled air however factors such as exposure to cold, irritants in the air like dust, cigarette smoke, travel-induced stress, poorly ventilated or crowded environments can result in the protective barrier of the respiratory tract being compromised. This results in infection. 

The infection causes inflammation of a dog’s respiratory tract which leads to the distinctive coughing sound of the illness. The main symptom is the cough.

When a dog coughs it is a hacking or choking sound as if they’re choking on something or something stuck in their throat. The cough can be dry, hoarse, or productive.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

Symptoms of illness start 5 to 10 days after infection and last for 3 weeks. In most cases, the infection is usually not serious, a dog looks healthy despite the cough and most dogs recover even without treatment, however, it can lead to complications in some dogs.

Symptoms of kennel coughs include a hacking cough, running nose, discharge from the eyes, and sneezing. 

A dog with kennel cough will still be energetic and also have an appetite for eating.

Complications of Kennel Cough

Most dogs recover from kennel cough within 3 weeks and in older dogs recovery can be up to six weeks. However, in puppies and older dogs, the infection can last longer and also lead to complications including the development of pneumonia. 

Pneumonia is a very serious infection in dogs that requires immediate medical attention to prevent further fatal outcomes.

Dog Hiccups

Dog hiccups are sounds made from the sudden and reflex contraction of the diaphragm, a muscle that is found in the chest area that is used in breathing, and which separates the chest and the stomach area.

The irregular movements of the diaphragm are caused when it is irritated, leading to the sudden temporary closure of a dog’s voice box which produces the “hic” sound.

Different factors can lead to the irritation of the diaphragm or its nerves which trigger the production of hiccups. 

This includes rapid breathing due to overexcitement, stress, rapid drinking and/or eating, inhalation of irritants, distension of the stomach due to overeating or diet, tumors of the chest, stomach, or abdomen, and also other underlying health conditions.

Hiccups are not dangerous to dogs and quickly resolve by themselves in minutes. However, in some cases, they may linger on and also be accompanied by other signs of illness such as vomiting or difficulty in breathing.

This means that the hiccups are triggered due to an underlying condition. This requires medical attention for the veterinarian to determine the cause and possible treatment. 

As a dog owner, always monitor your dog’s hiccup episode to take note of how long they last, their frequency, and presentation of other symptoms.

Read more: 

Difference between Kennel cough and hiccups:


Kennel cough


How long it lasts

3 – 6 weeks

10 – 15 minutes

When it happens

Anytime from inhalation of bacteria or viruses

Anytime due an irritated diaphragm 

When it starts

Symptoms appear after 5 – 10 days after infection

Starts immediately after diaphragm irritation 


Kennel cough





Runny nose 



Eye discharge






When to Seek Help

In most kennel cough cases, it is not harmful because it resolves itself in 3 weeks. Always seek medical help when:

  • The cough prolongs 
  • Your dog experiences rapid breathing
  • Your dog does not eat or there is a loss of appetite
  • There is weakness

The above symptoms indicate that there is something serious going on with the dog therefore seek immediate medical attention.

Hiccups should also resolve in under 1 hour but sometimes they can prolong and also be accompanied by other symptoms including vomiting, difficulty in breathing, lethargy, coughing, or wheezing.

When this occurs, it means the hiccups are caused by an underlying illness. Contact your veterinarian immediately when you observe this.



Kennel cough is a much different condition compared to hiccups,  the main differentiator between them is the sound. Simply, kennel coughs sound like a cough while hiccups are a sharp “hic” sound that may be silent or with a  burp. 

Hiccups last for a few minutes compared to kennel coughs which last up to 3 -6 weeks. 

By knowing whether kennel coughs sound like hiccups, you can detect the difference and be able to implement the appropriate action.

Always remember to contact your veterinarian when your dog shows symptoms that may indicate they might be sick and also when you’re not sure of what they might be experiencing.

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