My Dog Keeps Hiccuping And Swallowing: Here’s Why

It is incredibly concerning when you notice your dog hiccupping and swallowing at the same time.

So, what causes these unexpected bouts of hiccups followed by excessive swallowing? Why does your dog keep hiccupping and swallowing.

We outline the potential causes of dog hiccuping and swallowing, what to do and when to seek help. 

Here’s why a dog keeps hiccuping and swallowing

Hiccups and swallowing in dogs often occur together when hiccups triggers swallowing. Hiccups can cause dogs to swallow, as the brief interrupted breathing pattern due to hiccups leads to saliva, air, or food buildup in the mouth and a dog instinctively swallows to clear their airways and restore normal breathing.

my dog keeps hiccuping and swallowing

Dog hiccups

Hiccups in dogs are involuntary spasms or contractions of the diaphragm, the muscle responsible for breathing. These spasms cause a sudden intake of breath, followed by a closure of the vocal cords, resulting in the characteristic “hic” sound.

Hiccups are a common and natural bodily function in dogs, just like in humans, and they are generally harmless and temporary in most cases.

Various factors can trigger dog hiccups. The common causes of dog hiccups include:

  • Eating or drinking too quickly
  • Excitement
  • Stress 
  • Gastrointestinal issues (upset stomach or acid reflu)
  • Underlying health conditions
  • Excessive barking

Hiccups in dogs are usually short-lived and resolve on their own without any intervention or specific treatment. 

However, if your dog experiences prolonged or frequent hiccups, or if the hiccups are accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is can indicate serious underlying health problems. 

Swallowing in dogs

Swallowing in dogs refers to the act of moving food, water, or saliva from the mouth into the esophagus and down into the stomach. 

Swallowing is an important part of the digestive process for dogs, allowing them to eat and process their food effectively.

Occasional swallowing is normal, especially during and after eating or drinking.

While swallowing is a normal and necessary bodily function, excessive or frequent swallowing in dogs may raise questions or concerns, as well as if accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as vomiting, or lethargy.

Reason why a dog keeps hiccuping and swallowing

Hiccups and swallowing in dogs occurring alongside each other are often caused when one behavior triggers the other. The occurrence of hiccups can cause a dog to keep swallowing.

Here’s how: Hiccups and swallowing are both related to the functioning of the diaphragm and respiratory system.

When a dog experiences hiccups, it involves involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, causing a sudden intake of breath followed by the closure of the vocal cords, resulting in the hiccup sound. During these contractions, the normal rhythm of breathing is momentarily disrupted.

The interruption in breathing patterns caused by hiccups can lead to a buildup of saliva, air, or even small amounts of food in the dog’s mouth or throat. 

In response to this, dogs may instinctively swallow to clear their airways and restore a normal breathing pattern. 

Swallowing helps move any accumulated saliva or substances from the mouth and throat down into the esophagus and stomach.

Therefore, it is not uncommon for dogs to hiccup and swallow at the same time, as the hiccuping triggers the need to swallow to maintain a clear airway and restore regular breathing. 

This combination of behaviors is the body’s way of self-regulating and maintaining respiratory function.

See Also: Dog hiccups and licking (Explained)

What to do when your dog is hiccuping and swallowing

While hiccups and swallowing are often harmless and temporary in dogs, it is important to monitor your dog closely when these symptoms occur simultaneously. Here’s what to do:

Stay calm

It is important to stay calm and avoid getting overly concerned about your dog’s hiccups and swallowing. In most cases, the symptoms subside on their own. 

Keep monitoring them and note how long the symptoms last and other symptoms that may also appear.

Gently massage or pat their back

Lightly massage or pat your dog’s back to help relax the diaphragm and potentially interrupt the hiccuping reflex. Use gentle and soothing motions to avoid causing any discomfort.

Provide a calm environment

Create a quiet and stress-free environment for your dog, as stress and anxiety can potentially worsen hiccups. Minimize loud noises or disturbances that could startle or excite your dog.

Distract your dog

Engage your dog in gentle play or offer them a favorite toy or treat to help redirect their attention away from the hiccups. Diverting their focus can sometimes help interrupt the hiccup cycle which also stops the constant swallowing.

Provide water

Providing your dog with small amounts of water can help relieve any dryness in the throat and potentially soothe the hiccups. 

But avoid overwhelming them with excessive water intake, as that could lead to more swallowing and potentially worsen the hiccups.

Allow the hiccups to stop naturally

In most cases, hiccups will resolve on their own without intervention. Simply monitor your dog and ensure they have a comfortable and calm space to rest until the hiccups subside.

When to worry and seek help

Occasional hiccups and swallowing in dogs are generally normal and self-resolving. However, if your dog experiences persistent or frequent hiccups and swallowing, or if these behaviors are accompanied by other concerning symptoms, seek veterinary advice to rule out any underlying health issues that may require attention.

It is also important to monitor your dog closely and consult with a veterinarian if you observe any of the following:

Persistent hiccups: If your dog’s hiccups last for an extended period without subsiding, it could indicate an underlying issue that needs attention. Prolonged hiccups may suggest irritation or inflammation in the respiratory or digestive system.

Vomiting: Continuous hiccups accompanied by vomiting or regurgitation of food, water, or bile may indicate an underlying gastrointestinal issue, such as gastritis or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Difficulty breathing: If your dog experiences difficulty breathing or shows signs of respiratory distress alongside hiccups and swallowing, such as wheezing, gasping, or coughing, it could be a sign of an underlying respiratory problem that requires immediate veterinary attention.

Decreased appetite: If your dog’s hiccups and swallowing are accompanied by a decreased appetite or unexplained weight loss, it could indicate an underlying health problem that needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian.

Excessive drooling or excessive thirst: While some drooling or increased thirst may be normal during hiccups and swallowing, persistent or excessive drooling or excessive thirst can indicate a potential problem with the digestive system or dehydration.

Lethargy or unusual behavior: If your dog appears lethargic, weak, or exhibits abnormal behavior alongside hiccups and swallowing, it may suggest an underlying illness or discomfort.

See Also: Dog swallowing and pushing head forward (Explained)

Key Takeaway

In general, hiccups and swallowing in dogs are common behaviors that can occur simultaneously or separately. However, persistent or frequent episodes, along with concerning symptoms, may indicate underlying health issues that require veterinary attention.

It is important to monitor your dog closely and if you notice your dog showing these symptoms suddenly or for extended periods of time, consult with your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment. 

By addressing the underlying cause of the symptoms and providing appropriate care, you can help ensure that your dog remains healthy.

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