Hiccups can be a source of significant worry for dog owners. These fits of hiccupping can drive them wild with anxiety about what is behind them. After all, there are few things more capable of stressing out a human being than seeing their pet in discomfort.
So I thought it was time to provide a detailed article about why dogs get hiccups. These discussions will ensure you understand if it’s a severe issue and how to manage it effectively. You’ll soon know everything needed to help your hiccupping dog through these annoying fits.
Why Do Dogs Get Hiccups?
Dog hiccups come from a spasm in the diaphragm, causing the glottis to close. This action produces a sound that everyone associates with hiccups. It’s the same process humans have when they start hiccupping.
However, the reasons behind these hiccups occurring can differ significantly. Let’s go over the common causes to offer insight into why your dog is hiccupping. It’ll help you manage this issue and stop it from happening regularly.
1. Consuming Spicy Foods
Spicy foods have been causing humans to hiccup for eons. Capsaicin is the main culprit in these delicious, spiced meals that produce these fits. Its inclusion causes increased neuron activity in your diaphragm, creating a hiccupping fit.
Unfortunately, dogs aren’t immune to this phenomenon. Any pup who gets their teeth on spicy chicken wings or a similar meal could start hiccupping. I speak from experience as my dogs have got their paws on my chicken wings once or twice when left unattended.
2. Drinking or Eating Quickly
The most common hiccup cause is eating or drinking too quickly. In these situations, your dog will swallow in more air than normal and start hiccupping. Similarly, these hiccups can occur with an abrupt intake of air. It occurs when your dog’s body isn’t ready to take in air and is hit with some unexpectedly.
In either case, it can be a frightening experience if you haven’t dealt with it previously. It’s easy to avoid by using slow feeder bowls to slow their food/water intake (more on this later). Owners will want to get a handle on this problem or a condition called bloat could happen.
3. Overexcitement or Stress
Stress and overexcitement are known culprits for causing dogs many issues. Hiccups are on this list, as they often start whenever a pup’s heart rate/cortisol levels increase. Doing so irritates the diaphragm, resulting in a loud hiccupping sound.
In these scenarios, it’s not uncommon for dogs to take shorter/shallower breaths and breathe with their chests. My Pitbull has done this several times during her bouts with separation anxiety. It still terrifies me, even though I understand what’s happening.
4. Gas Build-Ups
Dog hiccups can present themselves because of a gas inside your dog’s stomach. It’s an effective way for them to release these build-ups. It’s an example of how these hiccups could be a good thing rather than something that causes worry.
These build-ups may occur for several reasons, from a change of diet to several medical conditions. I’d recommend talking with a vet if it occurs frequently as it could indicate an issue like cancer or IBS.
5. Certain Medications
Some prescribed meds offer a side effect of hiccups that should be monitored. A few known culprits include antibiotics, benzodiazepines, and corticosteroids. If your vet does recommend using these types of meds, ask them about any hiccupping issues.
Normally, it won’t be a massive issue as these meds will only cause regular hiccups. It’ll just be a few minutes, not those hour-long bouts that can be nerve-racking for owners. But If those do occur, it could indicate a more serious underlying condition: asthma, heatstroke, pneumonia, pericarditis, or even esophageal tumors.
So anyone with a dog who hiccups for an hour or longer should contact a vet. Truthfully, it’s not a condition that owners will want to overlook. It’s better to find out what’s causing the issue and address it immediately, especially if there’s labored breathing along with your dog’s hiccups.
Do Owners Need to Worry About Dog Hiccups?
Most of the time, dog hiccups will go away by themselves in about a few minutes. But they can last up to an hour with more serious cases. These long bouts of hiccups can cause severe discomfort, so it’d make sense to learn some techniques for stopping them.
However, it’s vital to figure out what caused the hiccups before trying any at-home remedy. This information will go a long way when deciding what method works best. Once you have a solid idea of what’s causing it, I’d recommend trying one of these solutions:
1. Try to Relax Your Dog
One of the easiest ways to fight against hiccups is by providing a relaxing environment. It’ll make your dog feel much more comfortable and should relieve stress or anxiety. Once this occurs, the hiccups should quickly dissipate.
There are several ways of relaxing a dog. As a result, it’s vital to choose a preferred method and stick with it when hiccups or other stressful situations happen. In my case, I do my best to comfort them with some belly rubs and encourage them to lie down.
It’s the same method I use when helping my Pitbull with her separation anxiety issues. The process seems to slow her breathing and calm her down. It’s become a massive tool in keeping everyone on good behavior in my pet-filled household.
2. Give Them Some Milk or Water
Dog owners who suspect spicy foods are behind the hiccupping should use milk. It’ll break down the food’s capsaicin which is causing the issue. Once it’s broken down, your dog’s hiccupping will stop and breathing should return to normal.
Meanwhile, water is another useful tool when there’s a diaphragm irritation causing hiccups. It’ll help cool down a panting dog and restore their breathing pattern to normal. Honestly, I’ve seen water solve many concerns when it comes to helping a pet.
3. Provide Hiccup-Preventive Foods
Certain foods can provide relief for a dog suffering from hiccups, such as bread, grains, or even rice. All of these options have proven to help combat these problematic situations. I’ve had success using them on several occasions.
Their effectiveness comes from them putting pressure on your dog’s diaphragm. Doing so helps prevent the hiccups, which solves the issue at hand. Truthfully, it’s one of the more convenient preventive measures as these foods are in almost any household.
Liquid sweets can also have a similar impact when given to a dog with hiccups. These treats are an excellent way to calm dogs down while restoring their breathing pattern. Maple syrup or honey are both top choices for this specific method.
But please, don’t give your dog any solid sweets or any sweet containing xylitol. Both these options will only create more problems rather than solve the hiccupping. You’re much better off using liquid remedies or preventative foods like bread, rice, or grains.
4. Use Slow Feeder Dog Bowls
If hiccups are common occurrences with your dogs, slow feeder bowls are a godsend. These products are built to stop quick eating and control food intake. In doing so, they become excellent tools to reduce hiccups and prevent other similar conditions (bloat).
So anyone with a dog who eats at a supersonic pace should get one of these bowls. As someone who has two dogs with quick eating issues, I can’t tell you how much it has helped. I no longer have to worry constantly about my pups getting hiccups or, god forbid, bloat.
If you need some advice on which slow-feeder to buy, the Outward Hound Slow Feeder is a great and affordable option.
In most cases, dog hiccups result from consuming spicy foods, gas build-ups, stress/excitement, medications, or eating/drinking too quickly. These annoying nuisances are often not serious issues and last only about 5 to 15 minutes.
But this severity gets more concerning, especially if it hits the hour mark. At this point, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your vet and figure out the underlying issue. It’s not something to overlook or hope goes away if it does last longer than the normal 5 to 15 minutes.
Do your dogs get hiccups? What have you tried to help relieve them? Share your thoughts, experiences and comments below!