The trick to curing hiccups is to drink a full glass of water without breathing. It's true, and I give you that tip free of charge. Your dog unfortunately doesn't have thumbs, and if you force them to drink water without breathing that is called animal abuse, akin to waterboarding. It's terrible to say out loud, but if that worked it might be worth it. A bad case of hiccups is a fate far worse than death.
If your canine companion suffers from chronic and consistent hiccups, or even the occasional case, what can you do about it? Is there anything you should be concerned about?
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The Root of the Behavior
It turns out that dogs get hiccups for the same reason people do. If they eat too fast, swallow too much air, rally too much excitement, or suffer from high levels of stress, then hiccups could very well be a symptom. Preventing hiccups really lies in the prevention of the actions that give them the hiccups in the first place, so identifying the cause is the best place to start.
When do the hiccups generally occur? Is it shortly after a meal? If so, then the rate of consumption is your likely culprit. If they occur outside of mealtimes, then it can be safe to assume that food is not the cause, but it could very well still be the water. Take note of when they get hiccups and try and figure out what they are doing just before the hiccups come along. A process of elimination will help you to determine the cause.
If your dog is easily excited or spooked, then it may a symptom of just their levels of excitement or stress. If they typically get very excited when you come home, and then they get the hiccups, then your answer is clear. Stress can be a bit harder to determine if it is the cause, but a good indicator of your dog’s stress levels are your own stress levels. If you typically maintain a high stress environment in your household, those stresses will often be felt by your dog as well, as they empathize incredibly well.
Regardless of the cause of the behavior, is there something you can do about the hiccups they get? Outside of prevention techniques, what can you do to cure the hiccups once they have them? Do the same tactics work for canines as they do for humans? Does a good jump scare the hiccups away?
Encouraging the Behavior
Hiccups are involuntary contractions of muscles located in the chest cavity otherwise known as the diaphragm. These contractions are triggered by subconscious muscle control and are much more common in the younger pups than in adult canines, which on an adorability scale is fine with everyone.
Put a small amount of sugar or honey into their water. The sweet taste can relax your dog and hopefully reduce the rate of ingestion which is the most likely cause of hiccups.
Canines suffering from poor physical fitness are more likely to get hiccups as well. They simply do not have as strong and as steady of a breathing pattern, and this can be a problem. Increasing their exercise and limiting their food intake should have a marked effect over time on their hiccups as well as their general health and life expectancy.
There should be no need to contact a vet as dogs get hiccups sometimes and it is a natural part of their physiology. Hiccups themselves should do no harm to your dog regardless of consistency and frequency of these symptoms.
If they are sick and hiccups are simply one of many symptoms of their illness, then taking a second look can never hurt, but in most cases the hiccups are harmless and will not make their illness any worse or complicate their condition.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If you simply feel bad for your pup and want to help, but the above solutions are not working for you, contact a behavioral specialist or trainer to get a better insight into your buddy’s hiccups. They can give you tips and tricks that can work well for your dog and hopefully alleviate their symptoms.
Hiccups are also common in high-stress dogs and dogs suffering from anxiety. A behavioral specialist will be able to help you identify the root cause and address the stresses your dog has.
If they just get hiccups from time to time, then there is nothing to worry about. Have a quick laugh at your dog’s expense and know they usually dissipate in 15-30 seconds.
Your dog’s hiccups are okay, and everything is going to be fine. If it persists for a very long time or is incredibly frequent, then consider contacting your vet. But, hiccups in and of themselves pose no harm to your dogs health or happiness. Try and regulate the speed they eat and drink and you'll see a huge difference.