Hiccups are one of the funniest sounds a human can make, But they can be worrying to hear when they’re coming from your new puppy. Watching their little frame jump with every “hic” is enough of a concern for any new pet parent. Today, we’ve got all you need to know about puppy hiccups.
What are hiccups?
Hiccups are a thing unique to mammals; us humans can get them and so can your puppy. In biology terms, hiccups are sharp little intakes of breath that are caused by repetitive contractions of the diaphragm muscle which is located under the lungs. If your diaphragm is irritated by something, like eating or drinking too much, it contracts involuntarily. Each contraction forces the vocal cords to close, creating the characteristic "hic" sound. It works the exact same way for puppies.
What Causes Puppy Hiccups?
So what could be the cause behind the irritation to your puppy’s diaphragm? These uncontrollable contractions may be caused by your puppy’s excitement. They may have eaten their food, or consumed water too fast. Puppies are happy little beings and it’s hard for them to control their enthusiasm. Even still, your puppy might have gas and hiccups are the result. Puppies of all ages, from tiny new-borns to galloping 4-month-olds may get hiccups. In fact, dogs of all ages can get hiccups.
Can You Stop Your Puppy’s Hiccups?
Just like in humans, finding a remedy for hiccups is difficult. There are a wide range of home remedies for ridding humans of hiccups (holding your breath, breathing into a paper bag, or gargling), but none of these remedies are scientifically proven to work, much less in dogs (imagine trying to teach a dog to hold their breath). There is, however, a number of things, akin to old wives’ tales, that you can try:
1. If you two enjoy playing hide-and-go-seek, try giving them a gentle “spook” from around the corner, but be very careful not to actually frighten your poor pup.
2. A sip of water might help, just make sure they drink it slowly. Otherwise they might gulp down air and end up with another bout of hiccups.
3. You can try to give them something sweet (preferably in liquid form), such as water mixed with a little bit of sugar. The sweetness might help distract them and hopefully relax their breathing pattern.
4. If that doesn’t work, try adding in a bit of maple syrup, honey, or Karo syrup to their water. These can coat the throat to soothe irritation and slow down their breathing. Just be sure that anything you give your pet doesn't contain Xylitol. This artificial sweetener is used in many human products, but is toxic to dogs.
5. Try massaging your dog’s chest to help relax their diaphragm and get their breathing back to a normal rhythm.
6. Light exercise, like a mellow walk, may also do the trick by changing your pet's breathing patterns.
Do Hiccups Hurt Your Puppy?
Ultimately, your puppy’s hiccups will go away on their own and no amount of worrying will help to speed it along. In fact, worrying will only prolong your own suffering so we promise you; puppy hiccups are completely safe and do not hurt your puppy. Although, hiccups can be annoying to the person or pet who has them. Think of your own bouts of hiccups; they’re certainly more surprising than painful!