Puppy hiccups are known to be common and frequent when they are young and become less frequent when they get older.
However, from this normal occurrence is there something to worry about? When should you worry about puppy hiccups?
In this article, I will discuss when to be concerned about your puppy’s hiccups, what causes puppy hiccups and when to seek help.
When to Worry About Puppy Hiccups
Worry about puppy hiccups if they are frequent, persistent, lasting for more than an hour, when there is presence of other symptoms, and a puppy’s daily activities such as eating, sleeping or play are severely affected. These signs indicate a more serious condition that could be the cause of the hiccups.
What Usually Causes Puppy Hiccups?
Hiccups are usually caused when the diaphragm, a muscle in the chest that is used during breathing, becomes stimulated and triggered causing it to have irregular movements.
These irregular movements or spasms cause the vocal cords to temporarily close which produces the hiccup sound.
The common cause of puppy hiccups is drinking or eating very rapidly, energetic play, stress overexcitement, immature developing organs and inhalation of irritants such as dust or aerosols in the air.
Some diets also can cause a puppy to have a stomach upset causing flatulence which also induces production of hiccups. Also the hiccups may be caused by serious health conditions.
These factors cause them to be more prone to development of hiccups.
Generally puppy hiccups are usually not a cause for worry but they should be monitored because they can be due to medical conditions that are harmful to a puppy’s health. They might be a symptom of a life-threatening disease that needs to be treated to prevent complications.
Further reading: What does it mean when your puppy hiccups?
What Are the Serious Health Conditions that May Cause Puppy Hiccups?
Apart from the common causes of puppy hiccups, health conditions may cause development of hiccups. The following comprises health conditions that might result in this:
Stomach problems are a contributor to production of hiccups. Gastrointestinal diseases such as acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux), stomach upset or esophagitis lead to the triggering of hiccups in a puppy.
Puppies with sensitive stomachs can have hiccups triggered when they eat foods that result in flatulence and stomach distention.
The distended stomach extends up to the diaphragm which irritates it causing it to spasms and cause hiccups.
Parasites can also lead to development of hiccups. These include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms and heartworms.
Puppies get infected when they ingest the eggs of roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms from food or water that are contaminated by feces of infected animals.
The parasites predominantly live in the intestines of a puppy causing symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and also pneumonia.
Heartworms in dogs are spread by mosquitoes. They do not live in a puppy’s intestines. They live in the bloodstream, heart and lungs. The worms also find their way to the windpipe causing damage. This causes respiratory distress which triggers the production of hiccups.
Respiratory Health Conditions
Respiratory conditions lead to production of hiccups by affecting the breathing pattern of a dog which causes involuntary spasms of the diaphragm muscle in the chest, resulting in hiccups.
Puppy hiccups that last for a long time, that is, over 1 hour and which keeps on recurring should be evaluated especially if it presents with respiratory symptoms such as excessive panting without exertion of exercise, sneezing or coughing.
These signs indicate an underlying respiratory health condition that also triggers hiccups. Bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia are respiratory conditions that can result in this.
Other Health Conditions
Other health conditions that also lead to development of hiccups include:
- Tumors (brain, chest and stomach)
- Neurological conditions including meningitis
- Brain injury
- Parasites including heartworms and roundworms
- Heart failure
- Damage of the diaphragm muscle’s phrenic nerves
- Synchronous diaphragmatic flutter
Related: Why does my Great Dane get hiccups?
When to Seek Help
Puppy hiccups should not be ignored or taken lightly because they can also be an indication of something more serious.
Always take note of how long they last, if they interfere with your puppy’s normal activities and also if other symptoms are present.
Seek help when you notice anything unusual based on the length of time, the frequency of the hiccups and presentation of other symptoms.
Hiccups that are accompanied with the following symptoms warrant a cause for concern:
- Excessive drooling
- Hard swallowing
- Difficulty in breathing
- Blue or pale gums
Also if you’re not sure that what your puppy is experiencing are hiccups, consult your veterinarian.
Read more: Are puppy hiccups bad?
The veterinarian will examine your puppy and determine if there are any other underlying conditions that are the cause for the hiccups.
Depending on the underlying factor the appropriate treatment is given which in turn will relieve your puppy’s hiccups.
There is a cause for concern when your puppy hiccups go on for a long time, keep coming back and also affect their way of life.
Overall hiccups are not dangerous but always be cautious and pay attention to your puppy’s progress through a hiccup episode. Also be aware of the surrounding factors that could cause a puppy’s hiccups.
As a puppy owner, always monitor your puppy to detect any unusual signs of illness or behavior so as to act immediately and seek medical help.