If you’ve ever wanted to know more about dog hiccups, what causes them, and what you can do about them, Anna Burke has some answers for you.
And you’ll find an adorable video below of a Labrador puppy with the hiccups.
While our first instinct might be to grab the camera, occasionally we stop to wonder if hiccups are a problem.
Can Dogs Get Hiccups?
Hiccups, those irritating little spasms, are just one more thing we share with our dogs.
All mammals can get the hiccups and scientists speculate that hiccups might be leftover from an earlier stage of evolution.
One theory is that in a distant branch of the mammalian tree, back when we resembled tadpoles and possessed both lungs and gills, we may have possessed a hiccupping mechanism that acted as the body’s way of controlling gill ventilation.
Regardless of why mammals get the hiccups, we can all agree that having them is an amusing, and at times irritating condition.
What Are Hiccups?
Hiccups remain one of those medical mysteries that are surrounded by theories but have no definite answers.
While we know what hiccups are, scientists are not entirely sure about what causes them or how to treat them, which makes sense, considering hiccups are rarely a serious problem.
Hiccups occur when your diaphragm spasms. These spasms are involuntary, and causes the glottis – the opening between your vocal cords – to close, temporarily stopping the inflow of air and creating the “hic” sound that we associate with hiccups.
These spasms are the result of irritation to specific nerves.
In people, the most common suspected causes are gastric distention, consuming alcohol, and swallowing irritating substances or hot foods and liquids.
Dog hiccups symptoms
So how do you tell if your dog has hiccups? Hiccups in dogs, like in people, can cause a distinctive “hic” sound that is usually accompanied by a diaphragm spasm.
Dog hiccups symptoms include this sound and spasm combination, and are occasionally accompanied by a burp.
Or you may just see the spasm and not hear anything.
Why Do Dogs Get Hiccups?
The causes of hiccups in dogs are as elusive as the causes of hiccups in people, however, puppies seem to experience hiccups more frequently than adult dogs.
This is also true of human newborns, and hiccups are common while mammals develop in the womb.
Scientists have recorded fetal hiccups in many mammalian animals and in human babies. These hiccups typically appear prior to breathing movements, and as the infants grow and develop, the hiccups usually go away.
Are dog hiccups ever serious?
Dog hiccups generally go away on their own, but occasionally hiccups can be a symptom of a more serious problem.
My dog has hiccups
If your dog has hiccups that last longer than a few hours, contact your veterinarian to rule out other conditions.
Sometimes hiccups are not actually hiccups at all.
Retching and seizures can sound and appear like hiccups, and are far more serious symptoms. A reverse sneeze can sound like a hiccup, too, especially if it is your first time hearing it.
If your dog has the hiccups as well as other symptoms, like fever, lethargy, coughing, or loss of appetite, call your veterinarian and make an appointment to get your dog checked out right away.
How to get rid of dog hiccups
So how, exactly, do you treat hiccups in dogs? In most cases, the answer is “you don’t.” Hiccups generally go away on their own, and if they persist for more than a few hours, you should call your veterinarian.
People swear that you can startle a person out of the hiccups, or that eating a spoonful of sugar or dry toast will cure it. Others recommend drinking water, and some pet owners claim that rubbing an animal’s chest can help.
While there is no guarantee that any of these strategies will work for your dog, there are a few that you should steer clear of.
Encouraging your dog to drink water and rubbing his or her chest won’t harm him, but some of the other strategies can.
Startling your dog intentionally is not a good idea.
It can lead to distrust and behavioral issues, and surprising a dog on a hard or slippery surface can lead to injury.
Feeding your dog a spoonful of sugar or other human foods is also problematic and can lead to stomach upset and obesity if you do it on a regular basis.
The exception to this, of course, is if you administer human food under the direction of a veterinarian.
Dog hiccups video
So what do dog hiccups sound like? Well, if you are not sure, here is a dog hiccups video to help reassure you.
Dog hiccups summary
Dog hiccups are usually benign and resolve on their own.
They are especially common in puppies.
However, if your dog gets hiccups on a regular basis, has hiccups that last for a long time, or even if you just have more questions about dog hiccups, call your veterinarian.
 Whitelaw, W. What Causes Hiccups? Scientific American. May 3, 2004.
 Greenberger, N. MD. Hiccups. Merck Manual. March 2016