Perhaps nothing is more amusing than to watch the slow breaths of a dog – well until he begins to hiccup. For a first-time pet owner, watching the body of your doggy jerk with every hiccup can be alarming. Relax; the hiccups are common and completely normal.
What are Hiccups?
These are uncontrollable spasms that cause the diaphragm muscles to contract. Usually, a part of your doggy’s voice box, also known as glottis closes, preventing the air from flowing in. This is what leads to hiccups. Dogs experience it due to the air they take in while eating or drinking fast. Excitement, stress, and fatigue are also notorious triggers of the bouts. It is believed that these spasms can also act as irritation and stomach gas relievers.
What Causes Hiccups in Dogs?
The diaphragm is the primary respiration muscle. It is an internal skeletal muscle that is dome-shaped, separating the abdomen and the chest. The diaphragm moves upwards and downwards each time the dog breathes in creating more room in the chest cavity for the lungs to expand. Upon breathing out, the diaphragm relaxes. When the dog is breathing in and out, the diaphragm moves in smooth and regular intervals.
Once the muscles twitches suddenly, it is known as a hiccup episode. Swallowing too much air, especially when drinking or eating too fast can cause the episode. Hiccups can also be caused by irritants. Rapid breathing, especially when barking and energetic play, are also to blame. The spasms are more common in puppies than adult dogs.
The reasoning behind this is because younger dogs have more energy and therefore play more. They are also likely to eat and drink fast. They also have less mature internal organs, which may increase their chances of hiccupping. Sometimes, reverse sneezing is confused for hiccups. Should your dog vigorously suck in air through his nose, he is likely to experience reverse sneezing. They do this as a means of clearing the sinuses.
Dog Hiccup Symptoms
How can you possibly tell that your dog if hiccupping? Well, just like humans, you may hear a distinctive “hic” sound followed by diaphragm spasms. A burp might accompany these. Sometimes, you might just see the spasms with no sounds accompanying them. Seizures and retching are 2 conditions commonly confused with hiccups. They sound and appear the same, but these are more serious requiring immediate medical intervention. If your dog is hiccupping and shows other symptoms such as lethargy, coughing, or loss of appetite, inform your vet.
Although hiccupping is normal in all mammals, some instances could signal that something is wrong with your pet. As soon as your pet begins to hiccup, followed by the following symptoms, visit your vet immediately.
- Stomach Issues: Hiccupping coupled with constipation, loss of appetite and diarrhea could signal a severe gastrointestinal problem. If there is blood in his excretion, that is a red flag.
- A sudden change of breath: if you notice your hiccupping dog change his pattern of breathing suddenly, it could be a sign of respiratory problems. Heavy breathing, coughing, or sneezing should get you to your vet’s clinic immediately. You might also notice discharge around the nose and restlessness.
- Parasites: if your dog is hiccupping and appears to be too tired, he could be having a parasite problem. The other signs include vomiting, diarrhea, dark, and hard stools.
Each time a dog hiccups for extended periods, it is always a sign of some medical condition. Pay special attention to other symptoms that could accompany hiccupping. If you suspect that something is not right with your pet, do not hesitate to contact your vet.
How to Cure Dog Hiccups
Assuming it is just a normal hiccup, what should you do to relieve it? Like is the case in humans, there is nothing to worry about when your dog hiccups because normally they go away on their own in a few moments. Should they linger for more than 30 minutes even after attending to your pet followed by coughing, check with your vet.
Many old wife’s tales surround the cure of hiccups, and sometimes they do work. Some people believe that startling a person can stop hiccupping, and some pet owners swear by it. Others say that ingesting a spoonful of sugar or eating dry bread can stop them. Some pet owners also claim that rubbing the chest can help.
What You Should Not Do
It won’t be harmful to coerce your dog to drink water or rub his chest. However, some actions can be dangerous. For instance, feeding your dog on sugar to calm the hiccups can lead to a stomach upset and obesity if this is done each time he has bouts.
Startling your pup is not also a very good idea. This can lead to behavioral changes and doing it on a slippery ground can cause injuries.
What Should You Do?
- Calm irregular breathing: Your aim should be to get him to breathe in a slow and regular pattern. Sooth him by talking to him and stroking his fur.
- Drink water: Like humans, water can calm bouts. Just ensure he drinks slowly and calmly.
- Slow down on food: Give him less food more often
You might also want to invest in plates with barriers to control how fast he eats. Your vet might also be in a position to recommend a proper diet to control hiccups.
Never be tempted to give your dog human medicine to control the bouts since they could potentially harm him. Here are simple methods to employ for quick relief:
- Always feed your doggy on a low-grain diet. High-grain foods can trigger a hiccup.
- Offer your pet water to control the bouts
- Get him into an exercise routine. This should control his breathing pattern and keep off hiccupping.
It is important to stress that hiccupping is complexly normal in dogs as long as they last for several seconds to about 2 minutes. They do not need any medication, unless they last long, or you suspect that it could be a medical issue. Read another article here: https://www.wellpet.org/blood-in-dog-urine/