Having a puppy can be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience – nothing quite compares to the unconditional love they give us every day. However, something they also give us (and other pets, too) can be rather irritating and seemingly unending at times – hiccups.
Just like us humans, puppies may experience hiccups – those abrupt contractions of the diaphragm in their chest that create that strange spasmodic sound. But why does your precious pup get hiccups so much? There are several potential causes for these involuntary incidents – all which are outlined in this guide.
Simply put, hiccuping is caused by a combination of forces from the nerves below the diaphragm (the muscle at the bottom of their lungs, just above their stomach). This sudden contraction can be triggered by:
- overstimulation of surrounding nerves
- a disruption to your pup’s eating and drinking habits
- excitement or strong emotion in your pet’s day to life
Do keep in mind that if your pup’s hiccups regularly exceed an hour, then it’s best to consult with a veterinarian physician as any prolonged events could signify bigger underlying health issues.
Causes of Puppy Hiccups
Puppies are prone to getting hiccups, and this is because of their immature digestive system. This is why puppies should be given smaller, more frequent meals, which can help them digest their food better and prevent hiccups. Hiccups can also be caused by drinking too much water too quickly, eating too quickly, stress, or excitement.
In this article, we will discuss the causes of puppy hiccups in more detail:
Eating too fast
Eating too fast is one of the most common causes of hiccups in puppies. When a pup eats quickly, their bodies do not have enough time to process their food in a controlled fashion – this can lead to air bubbles that cause hiccups.
To avoid this, you should encourage your puppy to slow down when eating by:
- cutting back on how much food you give them
- fractioning out their meals into smaller portions throughout the day
This will help them eat more slowly and teach them good mealtime habits. You should also avoid overfeeding your puppy, as this is a common cause of hiccuping in young dogs.
Stress or excitement
Stress or excitement may be common causes of puppy hiccups. When young puppies experience stress or excitement, it can cause their diaphragm to contract and lead to hiccups. Puppies are likely to have stronger reactions than adult dogs given their size and vulnerability, so they may be more likely to display hiccuping behavior in response to an unfamiliar situation.
Other possible causes include:
- Eating too quickly
- Swallowing air while chewing on toys or treats
- Drinking cold water too quickly
- Aggressive play
The hiccups usually stop after only a few minutes as the pup relaxes, but if your pup has recurring bouts of hiccups that last for several minutes it is possible that there is an underlying health problem such as gastritis or esophagitis. If you notice that your pup’s hiccups persist for several hours or occur on a regular basis it is best to contact your veterinarian for further evaluation.
Swallowing air is one of the most common causes of puppy hiccups. Puppies often gulp their food and water too quickly, resulting in excess air entering the stomach. When this happens, it can cause a spasm in the diaphragm which is what produces hiccups.
In order to reduce this risk, puppies should be encouraged to eat and drink from a slow-feeding bowl or specially designed bottle that dispenses small amounts at a time. Additionally, making sure that your puppy is not overexcited during mealtimes can help minimize the amount of air consumed.
Symptoms of Puppy Hiccups
Puppy hiccups can be a common problem for young dogs. Though hiccups in puppies are usually harmless, the condition can be concerning for owners. Fortunately, there are some tell-tale signs and symptoms that can alert owners to the presence of puppy hiccups. Let’s take a look at these symptoms to better understand how to recognize them:
- Rapid breathing
- Stretching of the neck
- Involuntary twitching of the body
- Loss of appetite
Puppy hiccups, also known as pseudo-hiccups, tend to be more common in puppies and younger dogs. They are usually mild and do not pose a serious threat to the animal’s health. Puppy hiccups look and sound like regular hiccups in humans, but typically last longer than adult hiccups in canine companions. Symptoms of puppy hiccups may include uncontrollable spasms that may cause puppies to whine or appear distressed.
The most typical triggers for puppy hiccups include:
- Eating too quickly
- Drinking large amounts of water after eating
- Bouts of running around or exercise
These behaviors can cause the stomach to become distended and can lead to spasms in the diaphragm that produce the characteristic sound of hiccuping. In some cases, pup’s can develop chronic or persistent cases of puppy hiccups that can last for days at a time. If this is the case with your pup, it is best to consult a veterinarian for further evaluation and advice on how to address this issue long-term.
Unusual breathing pattern
Puppy hiccups can be remembered by the phrase, “Sleep, eat, repeat.” This reflects the fact that hiccups in puppies tend to happen in between meals or if they become too tired during play.
When a puppy experiences hiccups, you’ll usually notice a rapid and shallow breathing pattern. The puppy’s stomach will contract rapidly and it may appear as if their chest is “jerking” or shaking with short contractions. Hiccups may appear to last for several minutes but usually only last a few seconds before repeating themselves again. The breathing pattern associated with these hiccup spells will generally be regular until the spell passes and your puppy returns to its normal relaxed state.
Unsettled behavior is a common symptom associated with puppy hiccups. Symptoms may include excessive yawning, restlessness, pacing, panting, digging and digging at something in particular if the puppy can reach it. Other actions such as barking, whining and growling may also be exhibited when your pup is experiencing hiccups. In severe cases, your pup may also attempt to vomit or even urinate more often than usual. These signs are usually accompanied by a loud gasp of breath accompanied by a “hic” sound.
If you notice any one of these signs in your pup, chances are they have the hiccups; however it is important to closely monitor the situation and consult a veterinarian if symptoms persist or become worse over time.
Treating Puppy Hiccups
Does your puppy get hiccups a lot? You may be wondering why this is happening and how you can help them. Puppy hiccups are generally harmless but they can be an indication that something else is going on. In this article we will discuss:
- The causes of puppy hiccups
- How to treat them
- Ways to prevent them from happening in the future
Distract your puppy
If your puppy is experiencing a bout of hiccups, try gently distracting him away from whatever activity triggered the episode. Take him outside to go potty, play a game of fetch, or offer him a new chew toy. The type of distraction will depend on what your puppy is interested in – an active pup may respond better to physical activities like playing fetch; oppositionally, a quieter pup may enjoy attention or puzzle toys as distractions.
You can also try snuggling or petting your pup; this might be just the calming influence he needs if he’s overexcited or too stressed out. If you have other pets in the home, such as cats or guinea pigs for example, let them interact (in a gentle manner). Seeing and interacting with other animals may be enough to pull his attention away from his hiccups and put him at ease.
Feed your puppy smaller meals
Feeding your puppy smaller meals with more frequency may help reduce the occurrence of hiccups. Feeding your puppy 3-4 smaller meals per day instead of one or two larger portions helps the stomach digest food more easily and allows your puppy to process its nutrients without overworking or becoming bloated.
Additionally, making sure that your puppy is in an upright position and not laying down while eating can reduce the development of air pockets within the digestive tract which can cause hiccups. Along with helping prevent hiccups, decreasing meal size has been linked to improved digestion and overall gastrointestinal health.
It is important to consult a veterinarian before making any changes to your pup’s diet, as some breeds may require more nutrients than others.
Reduce stress and excitement
When your puppy is overstimulated by events, such as exciting play sessions, too much physical activity or loud noises, it can lead to hiccups. Stressful situations can also induce hiccups in puppies, so try to avoid such circumstances.
If you think your pup’s hiccups are caused by excited behavior of the kind that puppies often exhibit when they’re playing with each other, try to redirect the pup to a calmer activity (such as cuddling). If a lot of noise or activity is going on around your pup – like at a party – consider taking them somewhere quiet until their excitement settles.
Books and DVDs specifically designed for puppies can be used as tools for teaching specific skills as well as calming down and winding down. Placing the puppy in a comfortable and secure area such as a crate may be enough for he/she to relax from being over-excited. Talking softly and reassuringly can also help create a sense of calmness while reducing anxious energy levels that might induce hiccups in pups who tend to get stressed out easily.
Hiccups are usually a minor and temporary problem that should pass in a short while. Home remedies like giving your pup small meals and avoiding treats with a lot of sugar can stop or prevent hiccups from occurring as often. In rare cases, consult with your veterinarian as hiccups could be an indication of an underlying medical condition.
It’s important to keep an eye on your puppy’s health, particularly if he or she is exhibiting symptoms that don’t go away after a few hours. Despite the occasional bout of hiccups, most puppies will live a healthy and happy life with the proper nutrition and care!