By Karen A. Soukiasian
They are caused by spasms of the diaphragm that are triggered by excitement, eating too fast, irritants or stress.
Puppies that hiccup, in general, do so first thing in the morning after waking up, after naps, after eating, or after too much excitement.
Some puppies even hiccup while sleeping!
Sources of dog hiccups
Dog hiccups are so common some veterinarians think they are “growing pains” some puppies must endure during the process of physically and mentally maturing.
In general, the episodes begin to decrease as dogs get older, and totally disappear by the time the puppy is 8 months to 1 year.
Other veterinarians claim it’s a vestigial reflex many puppies have from their days in the womb. It was a way they could exercise their lungs, and strengthen esophageal muscles, while literally being “underwater.”
The majority of puppies do stop, once their lungs adjust to oxygen and a drier environment.
There is no reason to worry if dog hiccup episodes last less than an hour. If they continue longer, or are chronic, consult your veterinarian.
Sometimes hiccups — if combined with other symptoms — can be a symptom of heart disease, hypothermia, asthma or other respiratory diseases.
Treatments for dog hiccups
As a rule, it is best to do nothing.
Often the stress their human exhibits only exacerbates the puppy’s anxiety. Some people, however, can’t just stand by if they sense their dog is in trouble.
The goal is to simply change your puppy’s breathing rhythm.
This can be done by distracting them and giving them something else to focus on. Offering a ball or squeaking a toy, can be enough of a disruption to get most breathing normally again.
Offering a treat, food or water also can help change breathing patterns.
Others find exercise and playing with their pet helps not only their pet, but it also helps calm them too!
Another option is to use an interactive feeder to help your dog eat more slowly. Options include the:
- Aikiou Junior Dog Slow Bowl — a twist on the traditional slow-feed dog bowl that requires your pup to forage for her food.
- Outward Hound Fun Feeder — uses ridges and mazes to slow your dog’s eating down.
- Northmate Interactive Feeder — this specially-designed feeder is shaped like a tuft of grass and turns mealtime into a challenging game.
If excitement is the trigger for your puppy’s hiccups, try to tone it down a bit. Massaging your puppy may help them relax and start breathing normally.
If the problem persists, talk to your vet about medications that can help relax diaphragm muscles.
In extreme cases, if there is a physical abnormality, surgery can be an option.
Bottom line: Remain calm. Dog hiccups are usually as normal for your puppy or dog as they are for you.
Follow Karen A. Soukiasian on Facebook.