Why Does My Dog Hiccup When Sleeping?

Are Dog Hiccups Normal?

Hiccups aren’t just a phenomenon that we as humans endure! Dogs and most other mammals have been proven to get hiccups from time to time. Hiccups in dogs are entirely normal and natural – but as uncomfortable as they are for us! Whilst seeing your pooch confused as to why they’re hiccuping is a comedic sight, there are ways in which you can prevent your furry friend from getting the hiccups.

Sometimes what you perceive as hiccups aren’t actually hiccups! A lot of dogs do what is called “reverse-sneezing” which is a sharp inhalation of breath through their noise. Reverse sneezing can sometimes sound like a hiccup. Reverse sneezing is done, often to clear the airways or to relieve allergies, and is harmless most of the time. Certain breeds of dog are more likely to reverse sneeze, such as toy breeds, but it is something that most breeds will do on occasion. 

Why Does my Dog Hiccup in His Sleep?

Your dog is more likely to have hiccups when they are in REM sleep, as it’s when they’re most fully relaxed. Hiccuping during sleep is usually an extra way in which dogs expel gas, especially if they’ve eaten a meal or had some exciting play before bedtime. 

Why Does my Puppy Hiccup so Much?

Puppies are more prone to hiccups due to their eating habits and their anatomy. Eating and drinking quickly (which most puppies do!) is more likely to result in hiccups. Along with this, a puppy’s internal organs are less developed than those of an adult dog, which can lead to hiccups. 

What Causes Dog Hiccups?

Hiccups are a series of tics that can occur when too much air has been swallowed. This can happen when eating or drinking, or simply from a spurt of energy. The diaphragm is the area which contains the lungs and the muscles contained within the rib cage. The diaphragm moves when a dog breathes, and an involuntary diaphragmatic tic can cause hiccups. These tics cause the muscle to spasm, which leads to a hiccup. This process is the same as a human’s and other animal’s that experience hiccups. 

How Can I Slow my Dog’s Eating?

There are multiple ways to slow your dog’s eating. Along with hiccups, eating quickly can cause vomiting or general unwellness in a dog. Below are a couple of ideas to help your four-legged friend learn to be more patient with their dinner. 

  • Slow-feeder bowls – These are bowls that have raised markings inside them, similar to a maze. The aim of these bowls is to ensure that your dog has to take their time getting to the food. The raised markings make it harder for your pooch to guzzle their dinner, leaving them with no option but to take their time. Dogs with shorter muzzles may struggle with this method, but luckily there are other similar alternatives such as mats which use the same logic. 
  • Use a baking tray or muffin tray – Using a baking tray and scattering the food over a larger surface area will give your dog a chance to take a quick break whilst eating. This method stops them from being able to take big mouthfuls at a time. Similarly, using a muffin tray forces a dog to pause between each section. 
  • Put a ball or toy in the bowl – This might be a quick method to try out first before investing in a special bowl or tray. Putting a ball or toy in a dog’s dinner bowl will cause them to eat around it, as it’s an obstacle. Of course, if they’re feeling mischievous they can simply take it out, but they might be too preoccupied with food to think about doing that. 
  • More frequent meal times – Try feeding your dog smaller amounts of food but more frequently. This might not be an option for some owners, but if you’re around your dog for most of the day, it might be an easy solution. Smaller meals scattered throughout the day will stop your dog from gorging a whole meal at once. Of course, with this method, you’ll have to ensure that you aren’t overfeeding your dog and that their small meals amount to a regular portion size. 
  • When in doubt, speak to a vet – Whilst it’s unlikely, there’s always a chance that a dog is eating quickly as a way to meet their own nutritional needs. If a dog is always hungry and eats their dinner in a rush, it could potentially mean they have a parasite or their nutritional needs aren’t being met. If you’re worried about your dog’s eating habits, make sure you speak to a vet. 

Are Dog Hiccups Common?

Hiccups in dogs are a common occurrence, although it’s much more common in puppies than adult dogs. On average, dogs usually reach maturity at the age of one, but some breeds reach maturity earlier or later. Hiccups in adult dogs are usually nothing to be worried about either, but it’s certainly more common in puppies and younger dogs.
Puppies are more likely to scoff their food and drink their water quicker than adult dogs, which is one of the reasons why hiccups can occur. 

The way a dog breathes can also affect how prone they are to hiccups. For instance, a dog with brachycephalic qualities (short snout or flat face) such as a bulldog, pug or French bulldog can suffer with hiccups and hiccup-like episodes more than a dog with a pronounced muzzle. 

What to do if my Dog has Hiccups

Most of the time, dog hiccups are absolutely nothing to worry about – much like when people get hiccups. Some people choose to try and distract their dogs when they’re hiccuping to try and relax their breathing, such as giving them something sweet to eat – like honey or some sugar water. Others find that some light exercise or gentle chest massages help relax their dog’s breathing. This isn’t necessary but if your dog is visibly confused or uncomfortable it could help them. 

For Happy Dogs Team

Our team are a group of dog lovers who strive to give our four-legged friends the best lives possible. We bring together lists of the best dog services in your local area - along with tips, guides and product reviews. Everything you need for happy dogs!

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