Dog Hiccups – Why Do They Happen and How To Get Rid Of Them

Find out about dog hiccups

Dog hiccups seem just like human hiccups, with a cute little ‘hic’ sound and a small jerking movement. Our dog’s hiccups are caused by an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm, and accompanying closure of the glottis, an area beside their vocal chords. They are very common and nothing to worry about if they stop after a minute or two. Dog hiccups usually happen when they’ve just eaten a meal, drunk some water quickly, or are settling down for a sleep. Hiccuping dogs are pretty funny, but there are some occasions when they could be a sign that your pet is stressed or that a visit to the veterinarian is needed. Today we’ll look at why dogs get hiccups, whether they are ever a worry, and how to get rid of puppy hiccups.


Dog hiccups are especially common in puppies, and may be a reflex that mammals develop in the womb. Mild dog hiccup cases can be helped by changing your feeding routine or helping them drink water slowly. But if your dog gets hiccups on a regular basis, has hiccups that last for a long time then give your veterinarian a ring. While dog hiccups are probably harmless, they can signify deeper problems and it is worth getting your dog checked out if you are worried.

What Are Dog Hiccups?

Strangely, human and dog hiccups are one of those medical mysteries that modern science does not fully understand. Scientists have proposed many interesting theories, but have no definite answers. To look at the phenomenon, we need delve into the depths of time and the theory of evolution.

Dog Hiccups Through Evolution

Hiccups occur in all mammals, and scientists have speculated that they might be leftover from an earlier stage of evolution. Of course, this is only one answer, although it is built upon some scientific evidence. Perhaps, in a distant branch of the mammalian tree, when we resembled tadpoles and possessed both lungs and gills, the hiccupping mechanism acted as the body’s way of controlling gill ventilation.

Another theory is that hiccups happen when mammals are in the womb. The fetus is simply trying out its breathing muscles ready to face the outside world when it takes its first breath.

Dog hiccups are quite natural. This black Lab puppy will soon be over them
Puppies get hiccups more frequently than older dogs

What Happens When A Dog Hiccups?

Dog hiccups occur when the diaphragm spasms. These spasms are involuntary and cause the glottis – the opening between your vocal cords – to close. This temporarily stops the inflow of air and creates the “hic” sound that we associate with hiccups. The spasms are usually 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. Gastric distension occurs when your stomach is full and actually presses on the diaphragm, irritating it and causing it to contract, just like when you breathe in.

Dog hiccups of course are unlikely to be caused by consuming alcohol. But many of our canine companions have a tendency to swallow things that might have been better off left on the ground – or table.

Regardless of why mammals get the hiccups, we can all agree that having them is sometimes amusing and sometimes very irritating. Hiccups, those annoying little spasms, are just one more thing we share with our dogs. Many people don’t believe it, but dogs really can get hiccups.

Can Dogs Get Hiccups?

Dogs can and often do get hiccups. Dog hiccups are much more common in small puppies, but all ages can get them, usually for the same reasons as humans.

As with humans, they are usually perfectly harmless and very cute. It’s only if they go on for a long time that you should worry. Of course, if you want to stop them, it’s useful to understand why dogs get hiccups. That way, you can avoid them in the first place.

Dog hiccups are more common in puppies
Hiccups in dogs are not usually serious

Why Do Dogs Get Hiccups?

Dog hiccup causes are as elusive as the causes of hiccups in people, however, puppies seem to experience hiccups more frequently than adult dogs. 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.

Dog hiccups usually happen because they eat their food too fast, or they eat something that irritates their stomach. On other occasions, there are simply no apparent reasons for puppy hiccups – they just happen.

Canine hiccups can be brought on by stress or excitement. Sometimes, puppies play too much for their own good and don’t know when to stop! Of course, unlike people, a dog can’t tell you that it has hiccups. Sometimes, you may think that your dog has hiccups when it doesn’t.

Dog Hiccups Symptoms

Dog hiccups cause a distinctive “hic” sound that is usually accompanied by a diaphragm spasm.

Dog hiccup 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.

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 dogs does have hiccups, how do you know if they are a sign of something much more serious?

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. In humans, hiccups that last for a long time can be a symptom of other conditions, and it is exactly the same with dogs.

My Dog has Hiccups

If your dog has hiccups that last longer than a few hours, contact your veterinarian to rule out other conditions. Dog hiccups that come with other symptoms like fever, lethargy, coughing, or loss of appetite are a medical concern. Call your veterinarian and make an appointment to get your dog checked out right away.

Likewise, dog’s hiccuping with an upset tummy, diarrhea, constipation, or poor appetite are a cause for action. If any of these happen, contact a vet as soon as possible.

Can dogs have hiccups - we investigate dog hiccups

How to Get Rid of Dog Hiccups

Dog hiccup cures don’t often work. And if they do appear to, it’s usually coincidence. Puppy hiccups generally go away on their own, and if they persist for more than a few hours, you should call your veterinarian.

There are a lot of old wives’ tales and folk remedies surrounding hiccups. 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.

How Not To Cure Dog Hiccups

Encouraging your dog to drink water and rubbing his or her chest won’t harm him, but some of the other strategies can. Feeding your dog a spoonful of sugar or other human foods is 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.

In humans, giving someone a sudden shock or fright really can put a stop to hiccups. I definitely don’t recommend doing this to your Labrador puppy. 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.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

Dog Hiccup Prevention

These three useful tips can help:

  • Dog hiccups lessen when they relax. You want to help them breathe more slowly, with a regular and even breathing pattern. Stroke them gently and talk to them in a soothing voice. If they roll on their back for a tummy rub, that’s great and can really help.
  • For humans, sipping water can often help the bout of hiccups subside. It’s just the same for dogs and if you can help your dog to drink slowly, that might just work.
  • Doggy hiccups can start when your dog tries to eat their food too quickly. One of my rescue dogs used to eat her food in no time at all and often succumbed to belching and hiccups. We gave her less food more often, and that soon sorted the problem

One other tip is special bowls that contain plastic barriers inside to stop your dog from eating too quickly. These can be a great solution for dogs that gulp down their food like there is no tomorrow. Your vet might be able to recommend special, low grain foods that suppress hiccups.

Most of the time, especially for adult dogs, these cures work perfectly and he will soon stop hiccuping. As always, if not, then don’t be afraid to ask a vet for advice just in case something more serious is causing the problem.

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website


  1. That is good you said that puppies are more likely to get them than older dogs because I was going to say that i have only seen them in puppies. I never thought about them getting hiccups in the womb, like humans but it makes sense. Thanks for the tips! I get rid of my hiccups my drinking water up side down, too bad there is no way to do that with the puppies!

  2. I didn’t know that dogs can experience hiccups as well. It probably annoys them as much as it does humans.

    Good tip to rub their chest in hope of stopping the hiccups! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing this article it is great to read something new