If you’re a first-time pet owner, you might be witnessing your dog jerking with something that sounds like a hiccup. You may begin to ask yourself, do dogs have hiccups? Yes, dogs do have hiccups. It’s a normal reaction expert attribute to various factors that are not life-threatening.
Dog hiccups are usually harmless. However, should the hiccups be severe and persistent, you will have to take it a bit more serious. Most animals with diaphragm experience it, and they generally benefit from the hiccups. It actually helps the dog to relieve excessive gas formed when he is eating or drinking.
Why Do Hiccups Happen To Dogs
Hiccups are caused by a spasm in a dog’s diaphragm. The diaphragm contracts involuntary and produces a sound every time that spasm occurs. The diaphragm is a muscle designed to allow the lungs to be filled with air. It separates the abdomen from the chest. When air is pushed into the lungs, it may interact with the vocal cord, and that might result in hiccups.
Till today, scientists have not yet known what triggers hiccups in animals. But there are theories about actions that lead to hiccups. A theory suggests that a hiccup is not an involuntary reaction. It’s a sort of exercise that dogs do for their development, as well as to adjust their lungs to the environment they are in. Many people believe that some dogs experience hiccups right from the womb. Another theory explains that the gas formed when your puppy is eating or drinking fast comes out in the form of hiccups.
Also, it is important to remember there are various situations that you might confuse for hiccups. Some of these include reverse sneezing or coughing.
What Causes Dogs Hiccups
There are a lot of reasons why hiccups may occur in your dog. The following are some of these reasons;
- When a dog is stressed out, overexcited or emotional, hiccups might happen.
- Inhaling irritants like smoke from cigarettes can lead to hiccups.
- The hiccups might also be associated with asthma and other respiratory diseases.
- When the dog gobbles down food or drinks so fast, excessive gas might be produced. The dog will then release this gas as hiccups.
- When you often feed the diet that is rich in grain to your dog, the dog may have hiccups. This is especially true if the diet does not contain enough water.
- Hiccups may also result from parasitic infection, plague, hepatitis, and hypothermia.
- Nervous system lesions or irritation might affect the rhythmicity of the diaphragm, which could cause involuntary actions leading to hiccups.
When Is It A Cause For Concern?
First, it is important to remember that puppies often have more hiccups than adult dogs. Also, you need to pay attention to how long the hiccup lasts. Vets consider that it’s normal if the dog goes through few minutes to a maximum of 30 minutes of the hiccup.
Anything above that might be a sign of a grave medical condition. Therefore, you may need to send the dog to a vet for an examination.
How To Stop A Dog From Hiccups
Usually, you should never be worried about stopping dog hiccups as they will stop on their own. But if the hiccups frequently occur and for an extended period, you may want to intervene. There are various ways to achieve that;
The first thing to do is to stay calm. Don’t let your dog notice that you’re tensed up as he will find it difficult to calm down.
Foods, especially those loaded with grains can lead to hiccups. If you notice that whenever your dog eats grain diets, he starts to hiccup, you will need to lower the amount of grain you serve to him or stop serving it altogether.
Giving your dog water after the meal is very essential in preventing hiccup.
The eating habit of your canine friend may also contribute to hiccups. When the dog tends to eat and drink fast, there will be an intake of excessive gas that might lead to hiccup. To tame this habit, you can start feeding him right from your hand. Even better, you could introduce a feeding pattern that will change his eating behavior.
Many dog owners also suggest taking your pet for routine exercise to prevent hiccups, or even taking him out for exercise the moment hiccups set in. Exercise improves your dog’s heart rate and keeps the dog active. This, in turn, helps in getting rid of spasms to avoid hiccups.
If the hiccup is as a result of hypothermia, you can try to regulate the body temperature. You could use a blanket or other warm clothing to bring more warmth to the dog.
There are also diseases that affect the contraction of the diaphragm, which in turn could cause hiccups. Some of these include indigestion, pancreatitis, and any disease of the nervous system. In such cases, it’s prudent to take the dog for a physical examination. Your vet will have to determine the best approach to remedy the situation.
You can also help your dog in stopping hiccups by calming the dog of irregular breathing. You can do this by getting him to lie on his back, then giving him a good and slow massage around his tummy. It has been proven that doing this will gradually help to calm the hiccups.
How Common Are Dog Hiccups
Due to the high energy and the level of excitement among puppies, they experience more hiccups than adult dogs. Their lungs have not yet adapted fully to the environment. This is a factor that may also contribute to the rate of hiccups they experience when they are young.
Also, puppies are predisposed to the habit of eating and drinking fast. And as we have mentioned, this is a habit that has a direct relationship with the buildup of excessive gas.
Reverse Sneezing And Hiccups
Reverse sneezing has on several occasions been mistaken for hiccups. This could be due to the fact the way a dog behaves in reverse sneezing is a bit similar to hiccups. Reverse sneezing is sometimes accompanied with vomiting.
The exact cause is still unknown, but it is significantly associated with certain infections and irritants. Fortunately, it is not known to be harmful to dogs. During a reverse sneeze, the dog extends its head backward, its mouth closed and produces a massive snorting sound.
Coughing And Hiccups
There are different types, and ways dog a cough. Some dogs might cough and get you to think it’s a hiccup.
Most notably, you could easily confuse a kennel cough that produces a honking sound for a hiccup. If you are not entirely sure, you should see your vet.
Hiccup is not necessarily a bad phenomenon; it’s a normal reaction of your dog’s diaphragm to involuntarily contraction. And as mentioned above, puppies experience it more than the adult dogs. But as the puppies get older, they will eventually grow out of hiccups. If the hiccups are caused by apparent factors such as food type, development of the lungs and irritants in the air, you don’t need to worry.
However, remember it can appear as a symptom to an underlying medical condition. All you have to do is observe the dog and see if the hiccups persist for long, in which case you may have to visit a vet.
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