Puppy Hiccups: Why Does My Puppy Get Hiccups?

Pet care & safety
Puppy Sitting with Hiccups

As a companion animal general practitioner, one of my favorite appointments to see on my schedule is a new puppy or kitten establishing care. These visits are filled with cuteness and excitement, but also a thorough new puppy checklist and typically lots of questions, especially for first time owners or those who haven’t had to go through the puppy stage in a while. One of the most common concerns brought to my attention at these visits is, “My puppy gets the hiccups frequently; should I be concerned?” 

Do Puppies Get Hiccups? 

Hiccups are not well understood in animals or humans.  Dogs of all ages can get a case of the hiccups, but they are much more common in puppies. When not accompanying other symptoms and in moderation they do not signify that anything is wrong. Hiccups are perfectly normal and as a puppy ages, they tend to occur less and less. I rarely see an adult dog with recurrent hiccups. 

Hiccups occur when the diaphragm- a muscle in our chest responsible for breathing- contracts quickly. Just as we can have muscle spasms of any muscle in our body, this can occur with the diaphragm too, causing a quick influx of air into the chest. As air runs quickly over the vocal cords you may hear the characteristic “hic” noise for which hiccups are named. 

Why Does My Puppy Have Hiccups? 

There are a few potential causes of hiccups including eating or drinking too quickly. When a puppy does this, they are more likely to swallow air and fill their little tummy up which then can place pressure on the diaphragm. Other possible causes include excitement, stress or tiredness, as well as throat irritation, including exposure to cold temperatures.  

Are Puppy Hiccups Harmful? 

Hiccups themself are harmless. Although we may see them as cute, I do see an occasional puppy yip or whine when they are having an episode of hiccups as they do not understand what is going on and can be startled or annoyed by this. Unless accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, pain, not eating, trouble breathing, coughing, or sneezing, there is no concern for hiccups alone. 

If your puppy is experiencing any of the above symptoms with or without hiccups, it is extremely important that they be taken to their primary care veterinarian for evaluation. Some of these symptoms may have serious implications, but their vet will be able to give them a thorough evaluation.  

Having puppy insurance is a great way to protect your pet and yourself when it comes to potential medical expenses. Embrace provides protection covering up to 90% of your pet’s medical bills in the event of illness or injury allowing you a financial safety net to afford necessary diagnostics and treatments for your fur baby. There is not pet insurance for pre existing conditions, so getting your pup coverage while young and healthy is essential. 

What Can I Do to Stop My Puppy’s Hiccups? 

Another common question I get from owners of hiccupping pups is, “How can I stop my puppy’s hiccups once they start?” Just as each person has their own way of trying to stop their hiccups, there are a few things that can be tried in an attempt to cease a hiccup episode sooner. My go to for myself is holding my breath, but we can’t really ask our dogs to do that! 

Remember, hiccups will pass on their own without intervention, but for those puppies that are a little more upset by them, you can try distracting them to help them relax. Consider playing with them, walking them, or snuggling them and rubbing their belly. You can also try offering a little water, but do not offer too much water or any food as a poorly timed hiccup could lead to a little of either going down the wrong pipe. 

Hiccups Are No Big Deal for Your Pup 

While hiccups may be annoying or startling for your puppy, they are essentially harmless when not accompanied by other symptoms. The nuisance of hiccups tends to decrease in frequency as our pups grow into adult dogs. Hiccups will resolve on their own, but you can try to play with or snuggle your fur baby to help them relax if they are upset by their hiccups.  

If your pup is having hiccups alongside concerning symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or trouble breathing, it is always better to be safe than sorry and book an appointment with your pup’s veterinarian. Don’t forget to enjoy the puppy stage while it lasts; they grow up so fast!