Why Do Puppies Get Hiccups?

If you’re a dog owner, you already know that you can never be too sure when it comes to the health of your pet.

From unusual noises to sudden lack of appetite, anything we’re not familiar with can make us worry.

However, not all of these things are symptoms of illness. Have you ever asked yourself, for instance, “why do puppies get hiccups”?

If the answer is yes, then this article will help answer this question for you and teach you everything you need to know about it.

Why Do Puppies Get Hiccups: A Simple Explanation

We all know how energetic puppies are, especially when they find an activity they like.

Because everything is new to them, puppies tend to get over-excited easily and feel too much at once. Naturally, this is a source of joy for the owners.

Who wouldn’t love to see how cute a puppy is whenever it starts playing or running around happily? It looks adorable!

However, this can also accidentally cause slight physical discomfort to your pet. For instance, puppies could start hiccupping soon after eating or drinking too fast.

Actually, it takes much less than that! Any feeling that is too intense for their little bodies, whether it’s stress or excitement, can also cause hiccups.

There are many other reasons for this, such as excessive barking or playing, but hiccupping can occur even if there seems to be no logical explanation.

You might notice that adult dogs experience hiccups much less than puppies. This is because puppies are still developing, so their mood or activity can have a bigger physical impact.

How and Why Do Hiccups Occur?

Two rottweiler puppies sitting on a deck

The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the abdomen and the chest. When hiccups occur, the diaphragm contracts involuntarily and produces the “hic” sound.

It is a common reflex in mammals, which is why both you and your pet can experience it. There are several theories out there about why it happens.

For instance, one study shows that the cause of hiccups could be the presence of air in the stomach.

Are Hiccups Painful for Puppies?

No matter how cute puppies are when they have the hiccups, it’s normal for owners to be worried about their pets’ well-being.

Luckily, puppies don’t feel pain when hiccupping. They may be surprised or annoyed, but you have nothing to worry about.

Could Hiccups Mean Something Serious?

Owners tend to become anxious if their pets hiccup too often. Why has my puppy been doing this for several days in a row? Why does it last for more than a few minutes?

Is this a serious problem? These are all justified questions, but the answer is much simpler than expected.

Hiccupping is not only normal for puppies, but it’s also very common.

Don’t be surprised if your pet does this daily for a short period of time, because it could happen often until they outgrow it.

However, this doesn’t mean duration isn’t something you should pay attention to. Hiccups in puppies usually last between a few moments and half an hour.

Essentially, hiccups that end in less than an hour shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

If the hiccups are accompanied by other symptoms, such as heavy breathing, coughing, or reverse sneezing, you may have a reason to be worried.

The following issues should also be taken into consideration if your puppy’s hiccups last for more than an hour.

1 - Respiratory Infections

Three dogs in a street

Dogs can have respiratory infections such as pneumonia and kennel cough, which are usually the result of viruses and bacteria.

Since they’re contagious, humans should be careful not to spread the infection by petting different dogs without properly washing their hands.

Similarly to us, dogs can also suffer from colds. Such illnesses could pass without incident when it comes to a dog with a strong immune system, but this is not guaranteed.

In a lot of cases, they are the cause of much more serious illnesses.

If even adult dogs are at risk when suffering from respiratory infections or colds, just imagine what they could do to a puppy.

Hiccups which are accompanied by nasal congestion, wheezing, coughing, or other such symptoms should definitely be investigated.

2 - Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites in puppies should never be overlooked. Even so, keep in mind that dogs are very likely to have such parasites at least once in their lifetime.

In these cases, hiccups are normally accompanied by more serious symptoms, such as vomiting, blood in the stool, or diarrhea.

Because prevention is better than treatment, always take your puppy to the vet for a fecal examination if you think they might have parasites.

3 - Exhaustion

Be very careful about the amount of exercise your puppy gets! Young dogs are very energetic, so you should be the one establishing limits.

Getting to know the needs of your puppy’s breed is crucial, and it’s the perfect starting point for creating a healthy routine.

Take your pet on short walks at first. Make sure to avoid temperatures which are too high or too low. Keep them hydrated. Take frequent breaks.

Your puppy can become exhausted by simply playing too much as well (especially if the weather is hot!), but it’s best to take precautions.

If they hiccup and breathe heavily, drool, or seem dizzy at the same time, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.

4 - Asthma

Sick dog being helped by a veterinary surgeon

Do you think that only humans can have asthma? Well, think again! Dog asthma is as real as it gets, and it’s best to discover it early on in your pet’s life.

When it comes to asthma attacks, a few triggers you should know about are air fresheners, perfume, pollen, and mold spores.

If your puppy starts hiccupping and coughing, wheezing, or panting, an allergic disease might be the reason why.

However, diagnosing a dog with asthma can be very tricky.

If your puppy doesn’t happen to have an asthma attack while the radiograph is being taken, it probably won’t show anything abnormal.


These are just some examples. Puppies can suffer from a wide range of illnesses, which is why you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for your vet’s advice.

Even so, hiccups that last for a short time and aren’t accompanied by other symptoms are rarely the result of a sickness.

If you catch yourself thinking “why do puppies get hiccups?”, observe your pet carefully before coming to any conclusions.

What About Hiccups During Sleep?

Excited dog with a stick in its mouth

Every animal lover feels a rush of happiness whenever they see a puppy sleeping peacefully. If you’re a dog owner, you may notice that your pet isn’t always quiet during such a time.

Have you ever wondered why? There are several correct answers, and most of them have nothing to do with health issues.

Similarly to humans, dogs are perfectly able to have dreams, even complex ones. Studies show that dogs actually go through the same sleeping stages we do. 

Because of what they dream, puppies can make all sorts of noises, such as soft barking.

If the emotion they’re feeling during sleep is very intense, irregular breathing patterns may cause them to hiccup. This is not something to worry about.

Another reason for hiccupping could be the amount of gas in the stomach. 

Eating just before falling asleep and ingesting something the tummy doesn’t react well to, are two valid causes for excessive gas.

How to Stop Dog Hiccups: 6 Things You Can Do

Let’s face it, puppy hiccups are the cutest. However, you can (and should) always choose to help your pet out whenever they hiccup for more than a few seconds.

Luckily, there are several methods that work. All you have to do is see which one is the most effective for your own pet.

1 - Drinking Fresh Water

Splash of water droplets

You already know how useful drinking water can be when you have the hiccups. Well, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work for your puppy as well!

This is a method you should only try if you’re very patient. In a situation like this, you should never let them drink water unsupervised.

Puppies need to be calmed down and soothed as gently as possible before being allowed to drink. If done properly, this could interrupt the hiccup cycle.

2 - Eating Something Sweet

Jar of honey on a wooden plank

Some home remedies people use for their hiccups are very efficient for puppies too.

Therefore, if you have any maple syrup, karo syrup, or honey around the house, you can try and give a small spoonful of it to your pet.

These examples are not meant to suggest a specific product category, so using a similar replacement might not work.

Not everything that is sweet is good for the puppy. Regardless of your choice, though, make sure that the product does not contain Xylitol.

Xylitol is extremely dangerous for dogs of all ages and sizes, so don’t take any chances. Before trying this method, definitely reach out to your vet for approval.

3 - Calming Their Breathing

Even if they don’t cause any pain, hiccups can still be a source of stress and anxiety for your puppy.

To avoid such feelings, you should know that diaphragm contractions occur much less once you manage to relax the muscle.

The easiest way to do this is to simply massage your puppy’s chest. Belly rubs are also a good idea, especially since they can improve your pet’s mood.

4 - Exercising

If you’re looking for something to change your puppy’s breathing, a walk might do the trick. This can improve his heart rate as well.

The weather should be appropriate, as high temperatures can worsen your pet’s situation. Walk slowly and allow them to interact with the outside world.

Any smells or noises they encounter may help them change the focus of their attention.

With patience and luck, your puppy could get distracted and “forget” about the involuntary contractions.

Not in the mood for taking a walk? If so, you can always just play with them. Show them their favorite toys, play fetch, find an interesting game.

As long as your puppy doesn’t get too tired, this can be very helpful.

5 - Low-Grain Foods

Black and white dog staring at the camera

If your puppy is regularly eating high-grain foods, you might want to have a chat with your vet. A solution for hiccups that works long-term consists of a low-grain diet.

Naturally, food doesn’t have the same effect on all puppies. It’s best to try several types of products and see which ones work best for your pet.

After all, you don’t want to upset their tummy even more.

6 - Affection

Now, this method is quite obvious. If you’re feeling unsure about what could stop your puppy’s hiccups, know that love can go a long way.

There’s nothing like making your pet feel safe and secure. Talk in a calming voice, pet them softly, and assure them that they are cared for.

Once your puppy’s mood changes, they can be relaxed enough to stop hiccupping.

Common Mistakes Puppy Owners Make in Trying to Get Rid of Hiccups

In an attempt to help their pets, some owners actually put them in danger. In order to avoid this, here are two of the most common mistakes you can make.

1 - Giving Your Puppy Something to Eat

This can be effective, but it’s not worth the risk. If your dog starts chewing something while they hiccup, there is a chance they will choke on it.

2 - Startling Your Puppy

This method is very effective for humans. For puppies, on the other hand, it could cause anxiety issues and change the way you interact.

Since there are many other ways to deal with hiccupping, there is no reason why you should scare your puppy.

Conclusion

Hiccups alone are rarely a cause for concern. If it’s an isolated incident, feel free to use any of the methods described in this article.

However, persistent hiccupping is always a reason to call your vet. Having a pet is a full-time job, and you should ask for professional help whenever you’re unsure about something.

After all, who could answer “why do puppies get hiccups?” better than a veterinarian?