Are Puppy Hiccups Normal?

Scary looking? Absolutely. Cause for concern? Not so much.

Nothing's as peaceful as watching a sleeping puppy’s rhythmic breathing and soft sighs -- until he starts hiccuping. If you’re a first-time pet owner, seeing your pup’s tiny body jerk with every hiccup can be a little alarming. But relax, they’re as normal for him as they are for you.

Hiccups are simply uncontrollable spasms that contract the diaphragm muscle causing your pup to begin to breathe in. Suddenly, the glottis (a part of his voice box) closes, stopping the intake of air. And out comes a hiccup (or two or three).

Dogs generally get them from the air they swallow when they eat or drink too fast, but stress, fatigue and excitement can also bring on a bout. Some experts believe the harmless spasms can actually help your puppy relieve stomach gas or irritation.

By the same token, reverse hiccups -- or when your dog takes a series of loud, involuntary breaths -- could be his way of clearing out his sinuses.

Bottom line? Hiccuping is harmless, maybe even helpful. They’ll come and go for a while, but eventually, your puppy will outgrow them.

Karen B. Gibbs is a writer and editor based in Lacombe, La.

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