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PET BEHAVIOR

Are Dog Hiccups Normal?

Three minutes Aug 31, 2022

Few things are as frustrating as the hiccups. If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably noticed your furry friend suffering from these same strange spasms. Dog hiccups are usually nothing to worry about, but they can still be a nuisance for your pooch. Here’s what you need to know and how you can help.

Can Dogs Get Hiccups?

Yes, your dog can get hiccups. Hiccups are common in virtually all mammals, including dogs. They’re caused by a spasm in the diaphragm. This muscle sits beneath the lungs and is used to regulate the body’s internal pressure. By contracting, the diaphragm creates negative pressure which causes the lungs to expand and fill with air. When the diaphragm expands, positive pressure is generated to push air out of the lungs. Inhale, exhale.

Hiccups in dogs means the diaphragm is spasming. Air is drawn quickly into the lungs, causing the vocal cords to “slap” together and producing the ubiquitous “hic” sound.

Is it normal for dogs to get hiccups?

Your dog is likely going to experience hiccups multiple times. They may be alarming at first, to both you and your dog, but they usually pass within a few minutes. If, however, your dog’s hiccups last longer than a few hours, it might be time to call your vet. Watch for difficulty breathing as well. Not only do intractable hiccups in dogs cause discomfort, but they can also be a sign of a more serious issue.3 Hiccups can be triggered by trauma, infections, and abdominal issues.4

Why Do Dogs Get Hiccups?

Hiccups are usually caused by gulping too much air. Most dogs will do this when eating and drinking. Puppies are particularly prone to hiccups and may also experience them when tired, excited, or even if they’re cold.3

Beyond that, nobody really knows why hiccups occur in mammals. The triggers that cause them vary wildly, from the mundane (eating too much) to the extreme (tumors).4 One potential explanation for the phenomenon is that they’re a vestigial behavior from our time in the womb.3 Scientists have observed fetuses hiccuping and speculate it may be a way to test the developing breathing muscles. This could explain why younger dogs get hiccups more often: the reflex is still strong in their muscle memory.

What do you do when a dog has hiccups?

There’s not much you can do. Despite all the urban legends about scaring them away or lighting a match and drinking a glass of water upside down, any evidence to the efficacy of these “cures” is anecdotal at best. The only surefire way to deal with dog hiccups is to wait for them to pass on their own.

There are, however, some preventive measures you can take. If you notice your dog gulping down their food and water, take steps to help them slow down. You can find slow-feeder dog bowls designed to keep your pooch from going ham on some kibble.5 They can also help your dog lose weight. A water fountain could help regulate their drinking, too.6 For those days when your furry friend does have the dog hiccups, some nice belly rubs might help them subside faster.3

Dog Hiccups: The Bottom Line

When it comes to health, dog hiccups are a low-priority concern. They can sometimes indicate more serious problems, but usually they’re just a temporary nuisance. Talking to your vet is the best way to assuage any lingering concerns you might have. After that, consider opening a dog insurance policy. It could help you cover the cost of unforeseen medical expenses in the future.2 You can get started today with a free quote from MetLife Pet Insurance.1     

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 “Can Dogs Get Hiccups?”, American Kennel Club

4 “What’s the Science Behind Why We Hiccup?,” Scientific American

5 “Best Slow Feeder Dog Bowls 2022,” Retrievist

6 “Best Dog Water Fountains,” Retrievist

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