Hiccups in animals are thought to start early — in the womb, in fact. The lungs need exercise to strengthen them in a watery environment, and that’s where hiccups come in handy.
Hiccups promote exercise in the diaphragm, which separates the abdomen from the thorax. Once the fetus gets to a dry environment, it must rely on exchanging gases through the lungs.
The Physical Process of Hiccups
And how do hiccups work, exactly? I’ll try not to get too scientific here, but let’s start with normal breathing.
When your puppy inhales, the diaphragm pulls down to get air into the lungs. Exhaling pushes it up to help clear the air out of the lungs.
Enter the hiccups, which occur when your pup’s diaphragm becomes irritated, possibly from eating or drinking too fast. Nervousness or excitement can also cause hiccups in a puppy.
Don’t be alarmed by your pet’s hiccups. Puppies tend to gulp a lot of air when they eat or drink.
Tips on Helping Your Dog Through Hiccups
During these annoying hiccups, you may notice your puppy’s body shaking or see him get flustered (as we humans sometimes do from these things). But hiccups normally last only a short time.
When your puppy experiences hiccups, try giving him a distraction to take his mind off of them. Another thing to keep in mind is that excitement tends to trigger the hiccups. A little rest may also help — put him in a room away from other external stimuli and pet him gently to calm him down.
Hiccups Are Mostly Harmless
According to the Complete Healthy Dog Handbook, hiccups are not often a sign of any serious health problems.
They are mostly harmless, and more often than not puppies eventually outgrow them. Make sure your precious little one has the recommended vaccinations and deworming treatments, and you should have no worries.
To get a glimpse of the cute and comical side of puppy hiccups, check out this video:
This pet health content was reviewed for accuracy by a veterinarian, Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS. It was last reviewed and updated Feb. 4, 2019.