Hiccups are normally harmless and rarely serious. Basically, the source is spasms of the diaphragm. This can be caused by excitement, eating too fast, irritants or stress.
Puppies that hiccup, in general do so first thing in the morning after waking up, after naps, after eating, or after too much excitement. Some puppies may even hiccup while sleeping!
Sources of Hiccups
Hiccups are so common; it is thought by some veterinarians, that they can be a part of the laundry list of “growing pains” some puppies must endure during the process of physically and mentally maturing. In general, the episodes begin to decrease as they get older, and totally disappear by the time the puppy is 8-months to 1-year old.
Other veterinarians claim it’s a vestigial reflex many puppies have from their days in the womb. It was a way they could exercise their lungs, and strengthen esophageal muscles, while literally being “under water.” The majority of puppies do stop, once their lungs adjust to oxygen and a drier environment.
There is no reason to worry, if the hiccup episodes last less than an hour. If they continue longer, or are chronic, it’s suggested to consult with your veterinarian. Sometimes hiccups when combined with other symptoms could be a symptom of heart disease, hypothermia, asthma or other respiratory diseases.
Treatments For Hiccups
As a rule, it is best to do nothing. Often the stress their human exhibits only exacerbates the puppy’s anxiety. However, some find that difficult to do nothing, when they sense their pet is in trouble.
The objective is to simply change your puppy’s breathing rhythm.
This can be done by distracting them and giving them something different to focus on. Offering a ball or squeaking a toy, can be just enough of a disruption, to get most breathing normally again.
Offering a treat, food or water can also help change their breathing pattern.
Others find exercise and playing with their pet helps not only their pet, it also helps to calm them too!
If excitement is the trigger for your puppy’s hiccups, try to tone it down a bit. Massaging your puppy rather than inciting more excitement, may help make them relax, and start to breath normally.
There are medications your veterinarian can recommend, if the problem persists. They will help relax the diaphragm muscles.
In extreme cases where there may be a physical abnormality, surgery is an option.
Bottom line: Remain calm. Hiccups are usually as normal your puppy or dog as they are for you.