Ever Wonder Why Your Dog Has the Hiccups?


Jul. 12 2023, Published 11:23 a.m. ET

Dogs are mysterious creatures who we love and depend on, and their behavior can often be fascinating. Why dogs go wild over tennis balls? Why do they follow us everywhere? And here's another fun one: Do dogs get hiccups just like humans do? Let's look into whether hiccups affect dogs, and why.

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Do dogs get hiccups?

It may come as a surprise, but yes, dogs can get hiccups, just like people do. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dogs get hiccups when the diaphragm spasms. Next, the opening between the vocal cords called the glottis closes suddenly, which causes the well-known "hic" sound.

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It appears that hiccups are more common in puppies than in adult dogs, though full-grown dogs can get the annoying spasms too. The following are some of the most common instances when dogs might get the hiccups:

  • After eating or drinking too quickly
  • When they're excited
  • If they get too cold
  • When they are very tired.
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Why do dogs get hiccups often?

Although we understand the mechanics of how hiccups happen to dogs and humans, it's harder to pinpoint why dogs get hiccups. The phenomenon is involuntary, so your pooch can't control if or when he gets the hiccups. But given what scientists know about hiccups, here are a few theories about why any mammals get them.

Per PetMD, researchers don't know why dogs get hiccups, but one theory is that hiccups happen as a leftover mechanism from developing in utero. Various species have been found to experience hiccups in the womb, and some scientists think this may serve as a "passive test of breathing muscles."

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Hiccups may be caused when a dog (or human) swallows too much air. This may explain the frequency of hiccups that occur when dogs are excited, playing vigorously, eating or drinking quickly, or experiencing stress. It's possible that dogs who are prone to anxiety may breathe rapidly, leading to the contractions in the dog's diaphragm that result in hiccups.

How do dogs get rid of hiccups?

Are you eager to help your dog get rid of those pesky hiccups? Well, the AKC notes that anything that calms your dog's irregular breathing may help cure hiccups. You might gently rub your dog's belly or get her to lie down quietly for a few minutes. PetMD also suggests taking your dog on a light walk or initiating gentle exercise to help regulate its breathing patterns.

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Based on the theory that eating or drinking too quickly may cause doggie hiccups, you can control your dog's feeding times more carefully. Give smaller portions of their food and monitor their eating to help them avoid ingesting too much air while eating. Do the same with water — offer small quantities more frequently instead of a large bowl filled with water.

Should you be concerned about your dog's hiccups?

Dog hiccups are typically nothing to worry about. However, if a bout of hiccups lasts more than a few hours, or hiccups turn into a wheezing sound, or your dog appears to be in pain, you'll want to see the veterinarian, according to the AKC. The organization notes that other warning signs include vomiting, difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, or not eating and drinking.

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