Nothing is cuter than a puppy sleeping and breathing normally. They look so peaceful! Yet watch out when a puppy wakes up! He’ll be filled with plenty of energy and be fired up for play!
But what about puppies that develop hiccups? Are hiccups in puppies normal?
If you’re a new pet parent to a puppy, then you may have noticed him hiccupping at some point. You may wonder if this is normal or a sign of a medical problem. Well, if you’re asking this question, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what causes puppies to hiccup and whether or not this is something to be worried about. Let’s get started!
What Causes a Puppy to Hiccup?
Puppies can develop hiccups from eating or drinking too fast, or if he swallows a lot of air. Sometimes a puppy may eat too fast and then develop hiccups as a result.
This may be why a puppy hiccups after eating or even when napping after eating.
It’s also possible your puppy could have developed gas, which can also cause hiccups. It’s normal for puppies of all ages to develop hiccups. Even adult and older dogs can develop hiccups.
What’s Going on When Your Puppy Hiccups?
Much like us, dogs have a diaphragm, which is a muscle that helps us breathe. When a dog breathes, the diaphragm pulls down to get air to the lungs. When the puppy exhales, the diaphragm works to push air out of the lungs.
If the diaphragm becomes irritated, it may begin to spasm. This may happen when a puppy eats or drinks too fast. It can also happen when a puppy is too excited or nervous. When the diaphragm becomes irritated, it starts to spasm, causing hiccups.
When your puppy hiccups, you may hear that adorable sound that we call a “hiccup.” Most mammals, including other animals and us, can develop hiccups. What’s more, scientists have not been able to find an answer as to why we hiccup.
There doesn’t seem to be any benefit in this process. However, scientists do believe that our puppies (as well as humans and other animals) may start hiccupping in the womb. This process may help the lungs to develop and become stronger before birth.
Yet, no one really knows for sure what beneficial purpose hiccups provide. All we know for sure, when it comes to puppies, is that this is a normal condition that can happen at any time.
Do Hiccups Hurt Your Puppy?
While hiccups are annoying, they usually don’t hurt.
How Long Can Puppy Hiccups Last?
Puppy hiccups may last anywhere between a few seconds to thirty minutes. However, if your puppy hiccups for a longer period and/or has hiccups a lot of the time, then it’s time to see the vet.
When to Be Concerned About Hiccups
In most cases, hiccups are nothing to be worried about and are quite normal. However, if you notice your puppy’s hiccups last a long time and/or happen often, then you should call the vet.
Hiccups can be a sign of respiratory problems, pneumonia, asthma, heart problems (such as pericarditis), or heat stroke. These are conditions that require prompt medical treatment.
How to Help a Puppy with Hiccups?
Most hiccups will last a short time. Most puppies seem to manage the hiccups without any problem. They may not even react to their hiccups!
However, if you’d like to help your puppy’s hiccups, then you can dry the following:
Use something sweet or syrup, honey, or sugar to water (avoid xylitol and other artificial sweeteners, which are toxic to dogs). The sweetness can distract the dog and maybe fix his breathing problem. You can use honey, maple syrup, Karo syrup to try to distract your puppy from his hiccups.
Avoid giving your puppy anything solid to eat when he’s hiccupping. Solid food could make things worse, especially if your puppy is having hard hiccups. The food could also cause your puppy to choke while he’s hiccupping.
Another way to help your puppy is by massaging his chest. This can work to relax the diaphragm and end the hiccups. You can also try some light exercise to help change your puppy’s breathing. Another way to relieve hiccups is by rubbing your puppy’s tummy. This can help relax the diaphragm and end the hiccups.
No matter what, do not make your puppy hold his breath. Some people believe this is the right thing to do; however, it could suffocate your puppy.
If your puppy is still hiccupping, then don’t treat him differently than normal. He’s not sick! He’s just having hiccups! You can try to feed him smaller, more frequent meals. You might also try one of those slow-feeding bowls, which work to make the puppy or dog eat more slowly. This can help to keep the puppy from swallowing a lot of air when eating.
Here’s a slow-feeder bowl that can work for puppies—it’s called the JASGOOD Slow Feeder Dog Bowl. This bowl comes in various colors, so you can match your home’s décor or choose your favorite color. This is a food bowl that can work to prevent choking, as well as make your puppy eat more slowly. The food bowl features swirls inside the bowl, which create separate areas for the dog food to rest. The puppy has to eat more slowly in order to pick the food out of the bowl. The bowl also features an anti-slip grip, so it stays in place as the puppy eats.
Similar to a slow-feeding bowl, you might try a snuffle mat. This can also help your puppy to eat more slowly and not swallow as much air.
You could try the AWOOF Pet Snuffle Mat for Dogs. The mat allows you to hide dry food or treats in the “grass” of the mat. The puppy then has to sniff out and find the food, which helps to slow his eating. The mat can decrease the amount of air your puppy swallows with his food, which can help to cut down hiccups.
Hiccups are a normal part of being a puppy and are usually harmless. What’s more, if you’re ever concerned about your puppy’s hiccups, then be sure to call the vet. They’ll be able to either reassure you that this is normal or that your puppy should have a checkup to make sure everything’s OK.