Dog Hiccups And Sneezing: When To Be Concerned

Dog hiccups are normal and they show up occasionally throughout their lives. Sneezing is also experienced by dogs which might be mild or dramatic.

So, what does it mean when dog hiccups and sneezing occur at the same time? Should you be worried?

In this article, you will learn more about why dog hiccups and sneezing happen, possible complications, what to do about it, and when to contact your veterinarian.

Here's Why Dog Hiccups and Sneezing Happens

Dog hiccups and sneezing occur when a dog’s nasal passages are irritated triggering sneezing and hiccups. Possible causes of these symptoms include airborne irritants, allergies, nasal infection, overexertion, nasal obstruction with foreign objects, or an underlying health problem.

Sneezing is a reflex action that helps to clear the nasal passages of any irritation. The irritation is sensed by the trigeminal nerve which is a nerve that is part of the central nervous system.

Any condition that damages or irritates parts of the central nervous system, reflex nuclei ( that is the neural pathway that controls reflexes), the autonomic system, vagus nerves, and the phrenic nerves, can trigger hiccups.

Therefore when the trigeminal nerve which is responsible for the sneeze reflex is irritated, it causes sneezing, which can also lead to phrenic nerve irritation which controls the hiccup reflex, which leads to hiccups.

Dog hiccups and sneezing

Causes of Sneezing in Dogs

Sneezing in dogs is a sudden, forceful expulsion of air from the lungs through the nose and mouth when a dog’s nasal passages are irritated. The purpose of the reflex action is to remove the irritants.

The sneezing sound is produced when air is forced out through the nose and the expelled irritants come out from the dog’s mouth. 

The common causes of sneezing in dogs include:

  • Airborne irritants such as smoke
  • Allergies
  • Reverse sneezing
  • Sneezing from overexertion during playtime
  • Nasal infection
  • A foreign body lodged in the nasal passage
  • Nasal mites
  • Nasal tumors
  • Kennel cough

The irritation of the nerves that are responsible for the sneezing reflex from the above factors may also trigger irritation hiccups This leads to dog hiccups and sneezing.

Hiccups in dogs are involuntary spasms of the diaphragm muscle, which is a muscle that separates the chest area and the stomach area in a dog. The muscle is important in the breathing process.

When the diaphragm’s nerves are triggered, this leads to the development of hiccups.


Occasional sneezing or hiccups do not require emergency treatment or the need for medical attention. 

However, when a dog keeps on sneezing and is accompanied by other symptoms such as nasal discharge, coughing, or wheezing among other symptoms, this is a cause for concern due to underlying health problems.

Dog hiccups and sneezing is a cause for concern.

Complications of this include canine influenza which can progress to pneumonia which is life-threatening to a dog if not treated.

Uncontrollable and continuous sneezing also indicates nasal tumor, nasal obstruction by a foreign object, or nasal mites, which are serious health conditions.

Related: Do kennel coughs sound like hiccups?

When to Seek Help

Normal dog hiccups usually resolve on their own in a few minutes however when they are prolonged and also present with other symptoms such as sneezing or vice versa, this indicates a need for evaluation by a veterinarian. 

Seek medical help when:

  • Hiccups are continuous (over an hour) 
  • Continuous sneezing
  • Sneezing is accompanied by nasal discharge such as blood
  • Severe allergies causing scratching, itching, and licking
  • Nasal swelling
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hacking cough
  • High fever
  • Discharge from eyes
  • Lack of appetite

Treatment of dog hiccups and sneezing will ultimately depend on the underlying cause of the sneezing which also triggered the hiccups.

The veterinarian will provide medication to treat infections if present and any other health condition identified.

If the sneezing is due to environmental allergens, you will need to vacuum your home to remove the allergens and also keep your dog away from aerosols or smoke that may trigger sneezing and hiccups.

Treatment of the underlying cause of sneezing also stops the hiccups.

Related: Why does my Great Dane get hiccups?

The Bottom Line

Dog hiccups are not dangerous however when they last for a long time and present with other symptoms such as sneezing, this indicates nasal passage irritation which needs to be looked at.

Nasal passage irritation can be caused by various factors which trigger both hiccups and sneezing. 

It is important to always contact your veterinarian when these two symptoms occur together because maybe as a result of a serious underlying condition that needs to be further investigated. 


A case report of Vagus nerve stimulation for intractable hiccups

Dog sneezing

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