If you are a puppy owner, you probably have heard your dog having hiccups. It is fairly common among young dogs. But what causes hiccups in dogs? And is it normal for adult dogs?
Hiccups are caused by the spasmodic contraction of a diaphragm – the membrane that separates thoracic and abdominal caves. The innervation runs through the neck and inner organs to the diaphragm and assists in breathing. If the nerves are immature (as in puppies) or are irritated (as in adults) hiccups occur.
In addition to immature or irritated nerves, there are several other factors that can contribute to hiccups in dogs. These include respiratory infections, allergies, and gastrointestinal issues like acid reflux or bloating. Stress and anxiety can also trigger hiccups in dogs.
Hiccups in puppies
As your puppy’s anatomy is still developing, until he or she reaches 6 months hiccups in dogs are fairly common and normally not a reason for concern. If your puppy is having a longer bout of hiccups, you can place him on the back and roll gently from side to side a couple of times. Sometimes it is enough for the spasm to stop.
To help prevent hiccups in your puppy, make sure they are not eating too fast or too much at once. You can try feeding them smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Additionally, avoid giving your puppy overly cold or hot water, as this can also cause hiccups. Finally, be mindful of your puppy’s stress levels, as stress can lead to hiccups and other health issues.
Hiccups in adults
Dogs of six months and older rarely have hiccups as their nervous system is mature and gets less easily irritated. If you notice that your adult dog starts getting more frequent bouts, better consult a veterinary doctor. If your adult dog is experiencing frequent hiccups, it may be a sign of an underlying health issue. Your vet may recommend a range of treatments depending on the cause of the hiccups, including medication, dietary changes, or surgery. In some cases, simply changing your dog’s exercise routine or reducing stress levels can help alleviate the symptoms of hiccups.
What could cause hiccups? If you start noting down and recording the situations when it happens it might help to find the triggering factor. You should write down what your dog was doing and take a video. Some people might falsely name reverse sneezing or focal seizures as hiccups. Therefore any extra information will be helpful to your veterinary doctor. Any mass or anatomical change causing pressure on the diaphragm or nervous tissue can trigger the hiccup bouts. Therefore your veterinary doctor might order a chest x-ray and abdominal ultrasound examinations. Electrolyte abnormalities from chronic vomiting or diarrhea, kidney disease or lesions in the central nervous system can also result in the spasms.
If the hiccups are occasional, you should not worry, we adults get them too. However, whenever, you observe an unusual behaviour for your dog that tends to repeat itself, consult your veterinary doctor.