Hiccups can be annoying and irritating, and sometimes worrying. We all know they are very common in humans, but can dogs get hiccups?
Hiccups are generated by the contractions of the diaphragm (the muscle placed under the lungs). When a dog breaths in, the diaphragm contracts; and when a dog breaths out, the diaphragm relaxes. But if this movement occurs 24/7, why don’t dogs get hiccups all the time? That is because the action is usually so smooth they can’t tell it is happening. It’s only when their diaphragm twitches out of rhythm that they get the hiccups.
Everything about Hiccups
- Usually, this spam lasts approximately 30 minutes or 1 hour, but there are recorded cases that lasted more than two weeks, or even months! (Luckily, it’s super uncommon).
- Hiccups are much more common in puppies and don’t occur so often in senior dogs. This is due to the fact that puppies have higher levels of energy and excitement, so they eat and drink faster than senior dogs, which cause them to inhale some air along with the food and water.
- Stress and/or excitement can cause hiccups in dogs. If your dog gets too excited, anxious, or stressed, it can cause an irritation of the diaphgram and this can be the origin of hiccups.
- As it happens frequently to puppies and babies, hiccups are commonly known for ‘make you grow’ (It’s nothing more than a popular saying, and, naturally, there is no scientific evidence to back it up).
Why do dogs get hiccups?
Hiccups start when the diaphragm (the main muscle involved in breathing) gets irritated and spams. However, there are certain things that can cause your dog’s diaphragm to twitch inappropriately.
- Eating too fast
- Excitement, anxiety, or stress
- Eating very hot or cold drinks
- Drinking sodas or carbonated beverages (please never ever give sodas to your pup!)
How can I make my dog’s hiccups better?
Hiccups can be very upsetting, and on some occasions even painful. Even though it is not a serious condition, and it usually doesn’t last more than an hour, I know watching our dogs suffer can be nerve-wracking. Here are some tips to make it better fast.
Ice-cold water: Try to give him small quantities of ice-cold water for him to sip (otherwise the cure will be worse than the disease!). If he is too agitated, wait until the excitement is gone.
Feed him a teaspoon of sugar: It is believed that sugar affects the vagus nerve, which connects the brain with the stomach and makes the diaphragm stop twitching.
Space his food out: If your dog is a greedy eater, and you notice he finishes his food within less than a minute, try to space out the food you are giving to him. You can try different approaches: giving him the same quantity of food but in 2 or 3 rounds, using a Kong or any other toy to put some frozen food inside for him to lick so you make sure he is will eat it slowly, or any other strategy you can think of!
Snuggle him and rub his belly: Free and harmless, this is the ultimate trick for every little discomfort your dog may have. Besides, massaging his belly and chest can cause him to calm down, and make the diaphragm stop twitching. Last but not least, hiccups can be caused by stress or anxiety, so snuggling him can only make it better (for both of you :)).
If your dog’s hiccups last for days and start to interfere with sleeping, eating, or any other daily activity, you should see the vet to rule out any other condition.