If you have a new Dachshund or any
other puppy, there’s just about nothing sweeter than watching them sleep. Which
puppies do—a lot. Growing up is hard work! But the peace and quiet might be
disturbed by an usual spasm. You might be alarmed, or wonder if your dog is ill
or having a fit of some kind. But it’s alright. Your precious puppy is
suffering from a case of … the hiccups. Generally harmless just like it is
in humans, hiccups can be annoying. But while your puppy might seem to hiccup
all the time, rest assured, there’s probably nothing wrong with them.
The Root of the Behavior
Just like in humans, hiccups are pretty normal. A hiccup is a spasm of the diaphragm, which causes them to breathe in. Just after the start of inhalation, the glottis, which is a part of the voice box, closes. It stops the inhale and causes that adorable and a little annoying hiccup. Usually, hiccups will go away on their own and don’t require any kind of treatment or intervention. Dogs don’t generally seem to be bothered or upset by the hiccups as they would by other conditions like coughing or gagging. Some experts think that hiccups can actually help dogs relieve stomach gas or upset. Puppies tend to get hiccups more often than adult dogs since several of the usual triggers tend to be associated with puppies. For example, excitement can trigger hiccups, as can eating too quickly. Puppies often have an instinct to eat quickly so they get their share of food before it’s gone—something left over from their days nursing on their mothers.
Most puppies grow out of the urge to wolf down their kibble as fast as they can. But until they learn to slow down and take their time, they may end up with a case of the hiccups as a result of eating too quickly. Swallowing too much air, even when drinking water, can also lead to hiccups. Stress, fatigue, or too much excitement can also lead to hiccups. Playing too vigorously, and breathing too quickly can bring on hiccups, as can anxiety or breathing in something harsh or irritating. Excitement as a trigger for hiccups is another reason why puppies generally experience hiccups more often than adult dogs. Puppies and excitement just go hand in hand (or paw in paw). In some cases, the hiccups don’t go away after a couple of minutes, and you can attempt to resolve them yourself. If your puppy or dog hiccups frequently, if it continues for hours or days, or their hiccups are accompanied by other symptoms, you may want to seek a vet’s advice.
Encouraging the Behavior
If your pooch is hiccuping for longer periods and you feel like you need to intervene, there are a number of ways you can help stop those spasms, and they are similar to how humans can end the hiccups. You can give your pup a little bit of something sweet—like honey, maple syrup, or Karo syrup. Be careful not to give your dog anything sugar-free, as sugar-free products often contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Adding a sweet liquid to your dog’s water acts as a distraction, and may allow your dog’s diaphragm muscle to relax and stop the spasms. Avoid giving your dog food while they’re hiccuping, as a sudden inhale may cause them to choke.
You can also massage your dog’s chest to try to relax the diaphragm.
Startling your pet (gently) may also work the same way it does in humans at
resolving hiccups. Light exercise may also help. So, just because they have got
the hiccups doesn’t mean they are sick or hurting. Just like humans, they might
not enjoy them very much, but there is nothing especially wrong with them. You
can pretty much treat your dog just as you normally would until the hiccups
subside on their own.
Other Solutions and Considerations
There are some rare instances when hiccups can be a cause for
concern. If your pup’s hiccups continue for several hours without stopping, you
may want to consult your vet. Hiccupping persistently can be a warning sign of
more serious issues, such as respiratory problems like asthma, heat stroke, or
even pericarditis, a condition that causes inflammation of the pericardium, a
tissue surrounding the heart. For the most part, your dog will get the occasional hiccups, and
that’s okay. You can minimize their chances of getting them by feeding your dog
high-quality low-grain food and making sure they’re not wolfing down their
bowls too quickly. Hand feeding or purchasing a special divided food bowl will
force your dog to slow down when they eat. Also, keeping your pup exercising
and drinking plenty of water is always good advice.
The hiccups can be bothersome or annoying, but most dogs don’t seem to mind. And if you’re a proud puppy owner, you might even enjoy watching that little one hiccup on occasion. Usually, there’s no intervention required and they resolve themselves. But if you’re concerned, you can try to help, or you can always ask a vet.