Why Does My Puppy Hiccup So Much?

Lab puppies eating too fast as they compete for their dinner!

Shortly after I got Thurber, my yellow Lab puppy, home, he began hiccups on a regular basis. I was a worried new dog dad, but know now I didn’t have much to worry about.

Hiccups are not only a common condition in human beings, but they affect animals in a similar way, especially puppies.

Hiccups in puppies are typical and harmless and generally cause no pain. It’s only on rare occasions that they may be a sign of an illness or disease.

To help you stop worrying about your pup’s hiccups, this article will explore why they happen and what you can do about them.

Four Reasons Puppies Are Prone to Hiccups

Puppies are highly active and full of energy, and this activity makes them prone to hiccups.

Here are four reasons why:

  1. Hiccups occur due to uncontrolled movements of the diaphragm, a muscle separating the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity. According to The American Kennel Club, Sudden contraction of this muscle causes immediate closure of the opening between the vocal cords, which releases a “hic” sound that results in hiccups.
  2. Puppies are always in a state of hyperactivity and, due to this over-excitement, they tend to engulf air while eating or drinking which can cause hiccups. According to com, Eating and drinking too quickly can also disturb the diaphragm, which also leads to hiccups.
  3. Hiccups also occur when puppies are tired, cold or excited.
  4. Finally, puppies are more susceptible to hiccups than adults due to their underdeveloped and immature muscles and body organs.

Hiccups Are Sometimes Good for Puppies?

There is no exact answer to this question, but there are some theories that show, on some occasions, that hiccups can actually benefit puppies.

One suggests that hiccups can help puppies get rid of gas and reduce flatulence.

Hiccups, then, can reduce the possibility of bloat, and are considered a sign of good and healthy digestion system.

Is It Normal For Puppies to Have Hiccups Every Day?

Yes, it’s totally normal — if they last for a few hours or so.

Increased activity and immediate swallowing of milk, water and food lead to frequent hiccups in puppies — early on, Thurber ate fast because he had to compete with his siblings for his meals before I brought him home.

It wasn’t until he realized he was no longer in competition — that he could enjoy every bite in peace — he began to eat more slowly and his hiccup problem began to go away.

Fast-eating habits can be reduced with proper training and management.

Note, too, that as your puppy grows and develops stronger muscles of the diaphragm, her hiccups, much like Thurber’s, will become much less frequent.   

Techniques that May Help Prevent Hiccups In Puppies

There are times, however, when hiccups may occasionally be unpleasant to your pup or to you. Here are four methods that may offer some relief:  

  1. Belly Rubs — Place your puppy on his back and give him a good belly rub. This helps to calm down movements in the diaphragm and steady breathing. Most of the time this technique will stop the hiccups. Lightly massaging your pup’s throat and chest may also prove beneficial.
  2. Provide Plenty of Water — Drinking lots of water promotes peristaltic movements in the gastrointestinal system, which reduces hiccups. You can add small amounts of honey or maple syrup to make the water more desirable. Remember that your puppy must drink the water slowly and steadily, which can be accomplished by serving the water in a small bowl.
  3. Serve Food in Small Quantities — Make sure your puppy eats solid food in small amounts at a slow, steady pace. You can also use special dog bowls, which limit the amount he can eat at once, for this purpose. Though it will take some time to slow him down, train your puppy daily to enjoy small amounts of food in each bite. Once this habit is second nature, the incidence of hiccups will drop significantly.
  4. Give Plenty of Exercise — Puppies are born to play. If her hiccups are not going away on their own, exercise can help. Go to a safe, open spot in your yard and play fetch with a ball or frisbee. Or take your puppy for a walk (but be mindful of hot pavement, which is hard on dogs’ feet). Any form of healthy exercise will help reduce hiccups.

What if My Puppy’s Hiccups Don’t Go Away?

Though hiccups usually go away on their own within a few hours or less, if they persist, seek veterinary help — especially if the hiccups are accompanied by drooling, vomiting, pain, wheezing, etc.

Uncontrollable hiccups may be a sign of some serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, asthma, heart problems, foreign body ingestion, esophageal obstruction, etc.

If your puppy appears to hiccup more than what is normal, a trip to the veterinarian is the best course of action.

What NOT to Do When Your Puppy Is Having Hiccups?

There are a lot of false and misleading remedies available on the internet for stopping puppy hiccups, which you must avoid.

Some of these remedies include holding the tongue of your puppy for some time. This is totally false and it actually makes the situation more stressful and worse for your puppy.

Feeding salt to stop hiccups is also a myth, and must not be followed. This can lead to kidney problems and dehydration.

Be wary of any remedies not approved as safe by veterinarians.

Key Takeaway: Don’t Over-Stress Yourself Over Your Pup’s Hiccups!

If you are a new dog owner or have just adopted your first puppy and are worried about hiccups, the first thing to do is not panic.

It’s entirely normal for puppies to have hiccups. Don’t overthink the situation — as I did with Thurber for days on end.

Relax and enjoy your precious puppy moments — because your puppy will not be a puppy for long.

That’s partly good news, however.

As your puppy blossoms and grows, he will grow out of his regular hiccup habit for good!

Visit www.ThurbersTail.com for regular column updates, funny dog videos, well-researched articles explaining why our dogs do what they do, and Tom’s new book, “Tips from a New Dog Dad.” The Thurber’s Tail blog is managed by nationally syndicated humor columnist Tom Purcell and his beloved Labrador puppy, Thurber!

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