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Why Do Puppies Hiccup?

Oh no, there he goes again! A hiccupping puppy is one of the cutest things around, but it can also be quite distressing for a concerned pet parent. It’s natural to want to keep your tiny new companion safe, so it doesn’t surprise me to hear a dog lover ask questions like “Why does my puppy hiccup?”, “is it normal?”, and “How can I make the hiccupping stop?”

Hiccups are completely normal for puppies. In fact puppies begin to hiccup in the womb before they are even born. Theories suggest that the hiccups are a way for the developing puppy to exercise its respiratory system and related muscles.

What is a Hiccup?

First, let’s talk about what these strange sounds actually are. A hiccup is defined as an uncontrolled spasm of the diaphragm. This involuntary “twitch” causes inspiration (breathing in) of air that is quickly blocked by the closure of the glottis, part of the “voice box.”

The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest (heart and lungs) from the abdomen (contents of the belly including the stomach, liver, intestines and more). It enables the lungs to bring in air during inspiration.

In a normally breathing puppy, the diaphragm is pulled down toward the abdomen as the puppy inhales (breathes in) to allow room for air to go into the lungs. When a puppy exhales (breathes out), the diaphragm moves toward the chest and helps move air out of the lungs.

What Causes a Puppy to Hiccup?

Hiccups often occur throughout the day in healthy puppies. They can last for several minutes before suddenly stopping. Puppies will commonly hiccup after eating or drinking, especially if they do so quickly. Hiccups are also associated with being excited, nervous, or following excessive barking. The theory is that the excitement can potentially increase the puppy’s breathing rate, which can stimulate the diaphragm. Eventually, most puppies grow out of their hiccupping habits, and the majority of adult dogs seldom get hiccups.

What Should You Do When a Puppy is Hiccupping?

Hiccups are normal and not harmful. If your puppy is having hiccups that have continued for a prolonged period of time and you want to intervene, the best thing is to gently comfort your puppy. Don’t talk loudly or scold them in any way. Hiccups are a normal bodily function that your puppy can’t control, so don’t punish them for something that’s not their fault.

How to Stop Puppy Hiccups

What makes hiccups go away in puppies is much like what makes them go away in humans: that is, it differs between individuals, and the solutions aren’t consistently effective. Some suggestions for things to help halt puppy hiccups include:

  1. Water: Just like in humans, drinking water can halt hiccups in some puppies.
  2. Proper diet: Feeding a grain free or low grain diet can help some puppies.
  3. Moving around: Changing your puppy’s activity can sometimes halt hiccups. If your puppy is playing and running, cool down with a walk. If your puppy is walking, stimulate him with heavier activity.
  4. Distraction: Offering a new toy or changing the puppy’s mental focus will often halt hiccups.
  5. Slowing eating: Give smaller meals or use a special food bowl designed to prolong mealtimes.
  6. Looking for a pattern: Monitor when your puppy has hiccups and see if you can identify a pattern or influencing factor that causes hiccups in your puppy. Once identified, avoid those things and see if it makes a difference.

I hope this article at helps you understand why puppies hiccup, what you can do to help your hiccupping puppy, and their role in natural, healthy puppy behavior.