The first time a puppy gets the hiccups, their reaction could be anything from a head tilt to barking at the weird noises coming out of their mouth. As a pet parent, our first reaction is usually “Aww, that’s so cute!” But then you might wonder, “Are puppy hiccups normal?”
What Puts the “Hic” in Hiccups?
Hiccups in puppies (and people) are caused by involuntary spasms of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscle that separates the chest and abdomen and plays an essential role in normal breathing. The diaphragm usually moves in a regular pattern but during a hiccup, a sudden contraction in the diaphragm pulls in air quickly, causing the vocal cords to close briefly. This is what makes the characteristic “hic” sound of hiccups.
What Causes Hiccups?
According to PetMD vets, hiccups in puppies can start for a variety of reasons, and most are related to the fast-paced life that is the cornerstone of being a puppy. A bout of hiccups can occur if your puppy was a little too eager to eat up all their food or lap up a mouthful of water and swallowed too much air in the process. Energetic play can also cause hiccups, along with general puppy exuberance. Feeling stressed and breathing fast can also bring on hiccups.
Why Are Hiccups More Common in Puppies Than Dogs?
While hiccups are generally associated with puppies, adult dogs can also get them. The high energy and excitement levels of puppies are thought to be the main reason they are more common in puppies. Less mature internal organs and systems may also contribute to the increased occurrence of hiccups in puppies, say PetMD vets.
Fixing Puppy Hiccups
A case of the hiccups will usually resolve on its own, as it does with people. But there are things the PetMD vets recommend that could help your puppy recover from their hiccups. Changing their breathing pattern by encouraging light exercise can help stop hiccups. If your veterinarian says it’s ok, you could also try one of the cures people often try themselves — like sipping on a sweet liquid. By giving your puppy something sweet in liquid form (e.g., honey or maple syrup in their water), the sweetness can help distract them and change their breathing pattern. Just remember not to give them anything sugar-free that could contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Also, to prevent choking, make sure they don’t chew on anything solid while they have the hiccups.
So, Hiccups Are Normal?
Hiccups are typically a normal part of puppy life and in most cases are not a cause for concern. They should occur less frequently as your puppy gets older. However, if a hiccup spell doesn’t go away or your puppy (or dog) has other worrying symptoms, always call your veterinarian.
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