Why Does My German Shepherd Get Hiccups? Reasons And What To Do

Both adult German Shepherds and puppies get hiccups which are quite common in dogs. It can be adorable but if you are a first time German Shepherd owner, it may be somewhat alarming.  

The question you may have is,

Why does my German Shepherd get hiccups? The common causes why a German Shepherd gets hiccups include fast drinking or eating which results in swallowing of too much air, stress, excitement, inhalation of an irritant, and during energetic play where there is rapid breathing. Hiccups are a result of sudden spasms of the diaphragm muscle which is located under the lungs of the dog and usually go away on their own after a short while. 

In this article, we will get to know if hiccups are normal, how they look like in dogs, whether they hurt your dog if they are a sign of something serious, and what you can do about them. 

What Do Hiccups Look Like In A Dog?

why does my german shepherd get hiccups

The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest area from the stomach of a dog. Its movements are normally regular which contracts and relaxes as a dog breathes in and out.

When the muscle involuntary spasms suddenly, this causes the glottis which is the opening between the vocal cords to also close suddenly which results in a ”hic” sound that continuously does this every few seconds. This is what is referred to as hiccups.

The hiccups go away on their own when the spasms of the diaphragm stop.

Are Dog Hiccups Normal?

Dog hiccups are perfectly normal and do not cause any alarm to a dog. The spasm of the diaphragm muscle is natural.

Hiccups are more common in puppies than adult dogs because puppies are more energetic and have high excitement than adult dogs and will tend to eat or drink too fast and have an energetic playtime which also affects their breathing.

Puppies’ internal organs are also still immature compared to adult dogs which also increases the chances of having hiccups. 

Recommended Reading : Can German Shepherd puppies eat blueberries?

Do Hiccups Hurt Dogs?

Dog hiccups are sudden spasms of the diaphragm muscle and in most cases, there is nothing to worry about because it lasts for a few minutes without causing harm to your dog. However, in rare cases, they can be a sign of an underlying respiratory health problem.

If your dog shows additional signs such as colored discharge, frequent coughing, loss of appetite, fever, or lethargy, have them examined by a veterinarian. Also, have them checked if the hiccups last for more than a few hours.

Can Hiccups Be A Sign Of Something Serious?

Although hiccups in dogs are a normal occurrence and resolve in a short time, in rare cases they can be a sign of something serious.

It can be a sign of an underlying health problem such as pneumonia, respiratory defects, pericarditis, asthma, or heat stroke. When the hiccups last longer than a few hours, talk to your vet.

How Do You Get Rid Of Dog Hiccups? What To Do About It

Hiccups are involuntary normal occurrences that your German shepherd will experience. When they do happen there isn’t much you can do about it and most times you just have to wait it out for it to stop. However, there are steps that you can do to help your dog during this time.

Try To Relax Your German Shepherd

Massaging your German Shepherd chest can help to stop the hiccups by relaxing the diaphragm. Have your dog sit in a comfortable place and massage him or her until they calm down.

Encourage Your Dog To Eat And Drink Slowly

If your German Shepherd has a tendency of eating too fast you can implement a few methods to regulate this. Buy dog dishes that are designed to slow your dog’s eating which will allow them to eat their food at a time.

We recommend the JasGood Slow Dog Bowl from Amazon for large dogs which is a slow feed bowl. It is best for both wet and dry food and also holds water as well as being easy to clean and is dishwasher safe. 

Provide Them With A Sweetener

Giving your dog something sweet like honey, syrup, or sugar in their water has been shown to help distract them and relax their breathing patterns which help in stopping the hiccups.

According to vet’s recommendations, also avoid giving your dog sugar-free products that may contain xylitol which can be dangerous to them. 

Do Light Exercise

Light exercise is also a good way of changing your dog’s breathing patterns which will help the diaphragm return to its normal movement and stop the hiccups.

Have Them Checked By A Vet

If the hiccups don’t go away or if they last more than a few hours it is best to see a veterinarian.

Also when the hiccups change to wheezing, irregular breathing, or accompanied with signs of respiratory disease such as constant coughing, lethargy, fever, or loss of appetite, immediately seek medical advice. Contact your vet to have your German shepherd examined. 


A German Shepherd getting hiccups is a normal and common occurrence that lasts a few moments. However, it is important to check for any other symptoms that come in addition to the hiccups or if they last more than a few hours to immediately have your dog checked by a vet for any underlying health problem.

I hope this article helped you know why your German Shepherd gets hiccups and what to do about it.

If you liked this article you may also like to learn more from the below resources on German Shepherds.

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