Dogs get hiccups just like people, though puppies are usually more susceptible than adult dogs. Hiccups occur as a result of a spasming diaphragm. The condition might be as annoying for your pup as it can for you, but hiccups don't normally signify a health malady or concern. If your dog continues to hiccup for several hours without stop, take him to the vet to see if an underlying cause for concern exists.
Why Dogs Get Hiccups
Your pup can get hiccups from swallowing too much air, something that occurs if he wolfs down his food. He can also get them when he’s stressed or scared, if he’s exposed to air pollutants like smoke, or if he’s on certain types of medication, medication, like muscle relaxers. Less common reasons for hiccups include health issues like asthma, pneumonia or respiratory distress. If your dog exhibits symptoms other than hiccupping, like labored breathing or inactivity, take him to a vet.
Signs for Concern
If your dog's apparent hiccups turn to a wheezing sound or it appears he's having trouble breathing, it could be an indication of a tracheal collapse, a condition that requires immediate veterinary attention. Other symptoms include a honking or gagging cough, and your dog’s gums may turn blue. Small dogs are more susceptible to tracheal collapse than large dogs.
Getting Rid of Hiccups
Sometimes distraction, like play can help stop hiccups, especially if the disorder is triggered by anxiety. If hiccups are typically related to eating, try changing his diet -- there may be something in what he’s currently eating that upsets his stomach. In extreme cases where hiccupping is nonstop, your vet may opt to give your dog medicine like chlorpromazine or haloperidol to alleviate symptoms.
Encourage your pup to eat slowly, spreading his food out on a cookie sheet if necessary to reduce how quickly he ingests it. If you notice your dog develops hiccups when he's anxious about something, look for ways to relieve the source of his anxiety. For example, if your dog starts to hiccup every time you run the vacuum cleaner, kennel him or put him in another room when you sweep the floors to make him feel more at ease.
By Lisa McQuerrey
About the Author
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.