What Does It Mean When Your Puppy Hiccups? (Explained)

Hiccups are common in humans, mammals as well as dogs.

But what does it mean when your puppy gets hiccups? Are the reasons behind puppy hiccups the same as in humans?

Today we will discuss what it means when your puppy hiccups, what puppy hiccups look like, why puppies get hiccups, whether the hiccups are harmful, and when to see a veterinarian.

What Does It Mean When Your Puppy Hiccups?

When a puppy hiccups it usually means that something has irritated their diaphragm which causes involuntary spasms of the muscle and hiccups. The hiccups are caused by vigorous play, eating or drinking too quickly, stomach irritation, stress, excitement, their young age, and sometimes they just happen.

What Does It Mean When Your Puppy Hiccups

Reasons why puppies get hiccups

The hiccup sound is produced when the phrenic nerves of the diaphragm, a muscle that separates the chest area and the stomach, are irritated and cause an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm. 

The spasms cause the glottis, which is an opening between the vocal cords, to close which causes a temporary restriction of airflow which produces the hiccup sound

The following are the common causes of puppy hiccups:

Fast eating and drinking

Eating and drinking fast results in a puppy swallowing too much air which leads to stomach distension. The distended stomach irritates the diaphragm which leads to hiccups. 

Further reading: Puppy hiccups after eating

Vigorous play

Puppies are naturally hyperactive, full of energy, and will always play a lot. This active play causes irregular breathing patterns which also causes irregular movement and spasms of the diaphragm.

This results in hiccups. It is common for this to happen during and after vigorous playing.

Stomach irritation

The presence of gastrointestinal issues can also result in hiccups. 

Stomach upset with flatulence or due to overeating can cause stomach distension which causes the stomach to press against the diaphragm. This causes spasms of the diaphragm leading to hiccup production. 


Puppies are full of energy that is common at their age and they can get very excited. 

Overexcitement can be triggered by overstimulation for example during play, your behavior, stress, excess energy, or how they are conditioned. 

Excitement causes physical changes in a puppy’s body and also contributes to the production of hiccups. 


Puppies can experience stress due to various reasons such as introduction to a new home, separation anxiety when separated from their owners, being scared, frustrated, or bored. These stressful situations can trigger hiccup production.

They are still maturing

Hiccups occur more frequently in young animals compared to adults. This has been linked to the fact that young animals’ nerves and diaphragm are still developing and thus tend to cause hiccups.

Read more: Are dog hiccups faster?

No reason at all

Hiccups sometimes happen for no reason at all. They can suddenly happen without the above-mentioned causes. 

Science has not determined why humans, mammals, and dogs have hiccups. Sometimes they just involuntarily occur.

Related: Why does my Great Dane get hiccups?

What do puppy hiccups look like?

Puppy hiccups are very similar to the hiccups experienced in humans. This is the production of a ‘hic’ sound during a hiccup process. 

This is similar in humans therefore also the sound produced and the body movement as a result of the spasms are like that of humans.

Sometimes there may be burping or non-production of the ‘hic’ sound. 

Other health conditions produce symptoms similar to hiccups which may be confusing whether a dog or a puppy has hiccups or not. These conditions include vomiting, coughing, seizures, retching which is dry heaving without vomiting, and reverse sneezing.

If in doubt whether your puppy is experiencing hiccups or not, always reach out to your veterinarian to rule out any serious problem. 

The video below shows a puppy having hiccups and how they sound like:

Are puppy hiccups harmful?

Puppy hiccups are not harmful and do not harm a puppy in any way. They are a normal and common process that happens more frequently with puppies compared to adult dogs. 

However, in rare cases, they can be a sign that something serious is wrong with your puppy. This includes underlying health conditions such as asthma, stroke, pneumonia, or gastrointestinal issues.

Read more: Are puppy hiccups bad?

When to see a veterinarian

Contact your veterinarian when the puppy hiccups do not resolve by themselves, last for a few hours and your puppy displays the following symptoms:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Lethargy
  • Choking or difficulty in breathing
  • Hiccups and vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Poor appetite
  • They look like they are in pain

The veterinarian will examine your puppy to determine the underlying cause and treatment provided when required.


The meaning behind puppy hiccups is not yet completely understood why it happens both in humans and in animals, however, there are definite causes of it. Hiccups are usually harmless however they can be a sign of a serious problem.

By understanding why your puppy hiccups and when it means something is wrong, you can act by having them examined to determine the root cause of it. 

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