You’ve probably had a hiccup before, but it never became a point of concern because it didn’t last.
So the first time you heard your dog hiccup, you didn’t think much of it. In your mind, it was just one of those things that would pass with time.
However, the hiccups keep happening and you can’t help but ask,
“Why is my dog hiccuping and swallowing?”
We understand how troubling it can be for you to watch your dog hiccup continuously without an end in sight and not know what to do.
That is why we’ll be answering these 3 questions for you:
- What causes a dog to hiccup?
- What are the symptoms?
- How can you permanently treat your dog’s hiccups?
Dog hiccups sound very much like human hiccups and are caused by the same thing.
So what exactly is a hiccup?
What is a Hiccup?
A hiccup is an involuntary and uncontrollable movement of the diaphragm muscles. The more the muscle moves and contracts, the more the hiccups occur. It’s usually caused by trapped air compressing the muscles of the diaphragm.
It usually doesn’t last long and isn’t a sign of something serious. It generally occurs shortly after eating or drinking.
Now that we understand hiccups, let’s look at the causes of hiccups in dogs.
What Causes Hiccups in Dogs?
It’s perfectly ok and normal for a dog to have a hiccup from time to time. Since it is a short-lived phenomenon, there’s no reason for alarm. However, it doesn’t harm to know what causes your dog to hiccup. Here are some possible reasons why your dog will have a hiccup:
Eating Extremely Fast
When your dog eats quickly it swallows a lot of air alongside its food, this results in a condition called aerophagia.
The swallowed air causes the muscles of the diaphragm to contract which in turn leads to a hiccup. Hiccups caused by aerophagia are generally short-lived, once the air escapes the diaphragm the hiccup will stop.
You can help prevent this by serving your dog its food in bits. You can also teach it to eat slowly during early training.
Also, make sure your dog isn’t left hungry for a long time. A hungry dog has no time to eat slowly.
Drinking Extremely Fast
This is similar to eating fast. When your dog drinks water too quickly, it might result in it swallowing air. The hiccup also stops once the air escapes the diaphragm.
One way to prevent your dogs from drinking fast is to make sure it’s never thirsty. There should always be a supply of fresh and clean water around it.
Medical conditions such as Cushing’s disease, diabetes, or liver disease do not directly cause hiccups but they affect the speed at which a dog eats and drinks water.
Any medical condition that affects the lungs, chest, or esophageal tract is likely to cause hiccups. Conditions such as:
- Respiratory defects
- Esophageal tumor
So they’re secondary factors that might cause hiccups in dogs. These medical conditions can only be resolved or managed by a vet, so if you suspect a medical issue visit the vet.
Eating food that’s too hot or too cold
Your dog’s food shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. If it must be anything it should be the same temperature as the room.
When dogs eat any food that’s either too cold or too hot, it leads to the irritation of the nerve endings in the esophagus. When this happens, it triggers hiccups. The solution to this problem is simple, don’t serve your dog meals that are too cold or too hot.
Anxiety or Fear
When a dog is anxious, scared, or stressed its heart rate goes and so does its cortisol level. Cortisol acts on the walls of the diagram muscles, causing a contraction which in turn causes a hiccup.
Presence of Abdominal Gas
When your dog consumes a meal that has a considerable amount of gas in it, the gas builds up in its stomach.
When this happens, your dog might start hiccuping to get rid of that gas.
Another reason why gas might build up in your dog’s tummy can be because it ate spicy food. Spicy food causes a build-up of gas in the abdomen and also causes your dog to drink water quickly. Both scenarios can cause your dog to experience a hiccup.
5 Tips on How to Treat or Prevent a Hiccup
Most times the cause of your dog’s hiccup can be something very simple and it quickly resolves itself. However here are a few tips you can practice today to help your treat or prevent a hiccup:
Always Provide Drinkable water for your Dog
When your dog is constantly hydrated, it won’t get so thirsty that it’ll need to drink water quickly.
Don’t Give Your Dog Spicy Food
If you must give your dog cooked food, make sure the food isn’t spicy.
Spicy food triggers the nerve end of the esophagus which in turn causes hiccups. It also leads to the build-up of gas in the abdominal walls of your dog which can also cause hiccups.
Train Your Dog To Eat Slowly
Train your dog to eat at a slow pace. Also, make sure your dog isn’t starved. When a dog is extremely hungry, it eats aggressively when it’s finally served food.
Food Should Always be Room Temperature
Your dogs might be intelligent but they’re still dogs. You don’t expect your dog to wait for its food to get to room temperature before it starts eating. Make sure that any meal that your dog is served isn’t too hot or cold.
Learn to Calm Your Dog Down
If you notice that your dog is anxious or scared, learn to Calm it down. Reassure it that it’s safe and that you love it and will never leave.
When is it Time to Visit the Vet because of a Hiccup?
As stated many times in this article, hiccups are normal occurrences. They happen to dogs, humans, and other animals. They’re usually not an indication of any serious health challenge, but sometimes they can be.
So when do you visit the vet because of a hiccup?
- When hiccups are prolonged for hours.
- When your dog’s hiccups are prolonged and accompanied by vomiting.
- When your dog appears to be in pain.
- When your dog struggles with hiccups and breathing issues.
- When your dog struggling with other underlying health issues and suffers from prolonged hiccups.
- When your dog rejects food or water during a prolonged hiccup.
3 Things You Should not do When Your Dog is Having a Hiccup
Here are 3 things you should never do when your dog is suffering from a hiccup:
- Do not give it more food
- Do not offer it more water
- Do not agitate it by shouting
By now you should have answers to your question:
“Why is my dog hiccuping and swallowing?”
Hiccups are as natural as the air we breathe. Your dog will occasionally suffer from a hiccup, expect that. However, if you notice that the hiccup doesn’t stop after a few hours, it might be time to take it seriously.
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