You hear a tiny hic and look around your mostly unoccupied room and your eyes rest on the only possible culprit: your dog. Dog hiccups? Is that even a thing?
You continue staring until you see their body jolt as another hic erupts from their mouth.
You initially think, “Awww, that’s so cute!” but then stop to think if it’s a serious problem that you should be worried about.
Don’t panic. It’s just your dog getting the hiccups.
Maybe you’re like, “Whaaat? Dogs can get hiccups?”
Yup, dog hiccups exist. While it’s more common for puppies than grown dogs, it’s pretty much a natural thing. Keep calm and sit back as I tell you the truth about dog hiccups.
Hiccups are just one of the few things that humans have in common with dogs. You can guess that the experience is pretty much as pleasant it is for your dog as it is for yourself. But did you know that it’s not something exclusive to just dogs and humans, but to all mammals too?
Evolutionary theory surmises that it’s a remnant of a stage in our evolution when lungs and gills were still vital parts of our common ancestor’s body, where hiccupping was some form of method to keep the gills ventilated.
While that is interesting trivia to learn, let’s admit that hiccups can be both amusing and irritating at the same time. I can’t speak for your dog, but the look on my pup’s face tells me that they don’t think very highly of it either.
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Pretty much the same as ours. Dog hiccups happen when our diaphragms involuntarily spasm. The spasm causes a temporary stop of airflow due to the glottis closing. The hic is actually a result of the temporarily blocked air flow.
“But what causes them?” you’re probably asking.
I get it. Hiccups, for you and your dog, seem to come out of nowhere. But really it’s a response to nerve irritation in the digestive system.
Common causes of irritation are alcohol consumption and ingestion of irritating substances like hot drinks and food.
“Uh yeah, my dog totally drinks alcohol.”
Well, hopefully not. But unless your dog snuck into the liquor cabinet like you did before your high school dance, the most likely cause for their hiccups is because they’ve swallowed something that wasn’t meant to be swallowed.
You know, as dogs do.
While scaring away the hiccups and holding your breath often works for when you get the hiccups, you couldn’t very well do the same for your dog.
(Trust me, I tried the startling thing.)
Nope, what would work is the other common remedy that we often resort to ourselves: drinking water.
Do your best to get your dog to drink some water and that should help get rid of the hiccups faster. If that doesn’t work, you can also try feeding them something to initiate a change in breathing pattern that can stop the hiccups dead in their tracks.
To help keep further hiccup attacks in the future, you can start feeding your dog food with low grain content. You can also keep track of what kinds of food your dog has been eating that can possibly cause the hiccups.
Exercising would also help as physical activities will affect your dog’s heart rate and breathing. Go for a loose leash walk or play a game of fetch.
Hiccups shouldn’t be cause for alarm as they usually go away on their own, but if it’s a recurring thing then it might be a symptom of a more serious medical problem.
If your dog’s been hiccupping more frequently or much longer than seems appropriate, have your vet check for any health concerns like abdominal or bowel diseases, pneumonia, or pregnancy.
If the hiccups are accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy and loss of appetite, call your vet immediately.
And if a hiccup seems sketchy to you, then trust your gut instinct that it might not actually be a hiccup but instead something more serious like retching or a seizure.
Other than that, a normal hiccup attack shouldn’t be a reason for you to worry. In fact, go on appreciating the cuteness of it all.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the truth about dog hiccups.
They’re normal, common, and are not usually something to get panicked about… unless you’re the pup in this cute video. (Spoiler alert: he freaks out)
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