Help! My Puppy Hiccups And Vomits

Watching the body of your new puppy tremble every few seconds for some minutes or almost an hour is enough to scare any pet parent, especially if it’s your first furry baby.

But just like we humans have hiccups, dogs have hiccups too. 

In fact, hiccups are a mammalian thing and every animal with a diaphragm gets them, but how it sounds will depend on the animal; kittens get very quiet hiccups while horse hiccups are particularly loud. 

Hiccups are generally harmless and self-limiting even in animals, and a bout of hiccups normally lasts for some minutes at the rate of 4 to 60 hiccups per minute. Read on to find out more about puppy hiccups. 

[1] Why do puppies hiccup?

Hiccups happen when the diaphragm muscle contracts involuntarily. Normally, the diaphragm will contract when your pup breathes in and relax when she breathes out.

When this rhythm is disrupted by uncontrollable spasms of the diaphragm, your pup hiccups and you will notice their little body jerk.

Hiccups are fairly common in puppies and it’s really nothing any pet parent should worry about, and they eventually outgrow it even before their first birthday. 

The actual cause of hiccups is not really known but there are speculations as to why it happens.

Some experts believe that hiccups happen when dogs are stressed or very excited. Puppies get hiccups when they breathe rapidly from excitement or when they eat or drink very fast and swallow lots of air in the process and in this case hiccuping helps get out the excess air from their system and relieve stomach gas. 

[2] What do puppy hiccups sound like?

When hiccups happen, the diaphragm suddenly contrasts and in the process it forces the glottis (which is a part of a dog’s voice box) to close abruptly, this sudden movement momentarily cuts of the intake of air and you hear your dog make a “hic” sound with a small jerking motion around the upper body. 

Hiccups in dogs sound exactly the same as hiccups in humans and if you ever heard yourself or anyone else hiccup (especially babies or kids), that’s very similar to what you’ll hear from a puppy.

The distinctive “hic” sound and the spasm most often go together but sometimes you may notice the spasm but hear no sound, that too can be a hiccup. 

There are a few other things that may sound like a hiccup and sometimes what you observe as a hiccup in your little pup, may not be a hiccup at all.

For instance, puppies do reverse sneeze and this also sounds like a hiccup. But unlike a reverse sneeze, hiccups continue periodically for a few minutes, and sometimes up to an hour.  

[3] Why do puppies vomit?

Vomiting is a fairly common symptom in dogs because many dog ailments involve a bout of vomiting or diarrhea.

However, the most common reason why puppies vomit is dietary indiscretion. In the puppy stage, dogs are usually very curious and will not hesitate to sniff and eat whatever they come across. 

As growing dogs explore their environment, they often pick up inedible objects or decaying stuff from the ground which may end up irritating their gastrointestinal tract and triggering a bout of vomiting or diarrhea. Intestinal parasites and infectious diseases can also cause puppies to vomit, and puppies are especially prone to infections if they are yet to complete their vaccination. 

For instance, canine Parvo and Distemper virus are diseases that are commonly associated with continuous vomiting and lethargy in puppies. Other ailments that may cause a puppy to vomit include abdominal infections, inflammatory bowel disease, Addison’s disease, gastrointestinal ulcers, anatomic abnormalities, pancreatitis, and organ dysfunction (liver or kidney disease). 

Lastly, vomiting in puppies can be due to motion sickness such as car rides. If your puppy seems healthy and energetic but vomits once and stops completely, and continues eating, drinking and playing as usual, then you may have nothing to worry about. But if the symptom persists then you need to take your puppy to the vet ASAP to prevent dehydration which will further complicate the problem. 

[4] Why do puppies hiccup and vomit?

Puppy hiccups are usually not serious but occasionally it can be a sign of gastrointestinal distress, especially if it’s accompanied by vomiting. Hiccups usually don’t precede vomiting but if this happens then it may be that what you thought was a hiccup was actually a small retching sound (which can also sound like hiccups). 

If this happens just once and your pup carries on as usual with no sign of lethargy or loss of appetite, then it may have been a slight stomach upset. Hiccups alone are not a sign of a medical condition, however when they are combined with coughing, vomiting, and shortness of breath which lasts for more than a day, then your dog may have a serious underlying health condition which should be checked as soon as possible. 

This could be a sign of an upset stomach or something more serious like a respiratory disease or a heart condition. In this case, a vet needs to examine your puppy to determine the cause of the problem, your pup may need an X-ray, blood test or other lab tests for proper diagnosis.

[5] Why do puppies wake up hiccuping?

Puppy hiccups usually happen in the morning just after they wake up or after a nap and sometimes puppies will have hiccups while sleeping. Puppies are not the only mammals that do this, hiccups are very common in mammalian babies but the actual cause of this isn’t very clear. Some scientists believe that it may be a leftover from hiccuping in the womb

Ultrasounds have shown that even fetuses have hiccups in the womb, and experts believe that hiccups in the womb happen as a way to exercise the diaphragm and test the breathing muscles in preparation for life outside the womb. 

Fetal hiccups occur in human babies, dog puppies and infants of many other mammalian species. And it becomes less frequent as the animals get older and eventually disappears by 6 months or before their first birthday. If your puppy hiccups whenever they wake up or while they are asleep, you have no need to worry as this is very normal in puppies.

[6] Is hiccuping a sign that a puppy has worms?

Puppy hiccups is not a sign of worms or any other dog ailment. But if your dog hiccups all the time and you have a feeling that it’s unusual, then you should talk to your vet about your concerns. Hiccups alone are not a sign of any medical condition, and only when they are accompanied by other clear symptoms of discomfort should you worry. 

For instance, persistent hiccups coupled with other symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath or vomiting may be a sign of a respiratory infection, and parasites such as heartworms and roundworms can affect a dog’s respiratory tract. 

In dogs, heartworms and the larvae of roundworms infect the respiratory tract causing symptoms like persistent coughing, wheezing and other breathing problems. And if you notice your dog coughing and sneezing while simultaneously hiccuping, that is a sign that your puppy may have a respiratory problem and you should talk to your vet about it. 

[7] How to get rid of puppy hiccups?

There aren’t any known remedies for puppy hiccups, and they normally disappear as puppies mature. However, if your puppy gets hiccups very often and you can’t stand watching their little cute body jerk uncontrollably then here are a few things you can try out to stop the spasm and help the diaphragm relax. 

  1. Give your puppy a gentle tummy rub to calm irregular breathing and help them take a deep breath. Let your pup lie on their back while you gently rub their tummy, this should help stabilize their breathing and stop the hiccups.
  2. Give your puppy some water to drink. Water can help calm hiccups in dogs, just like it does in humans but make sure your puppy drinks gently and in small amounts. 
  3. Hiccups can be caused by swallowing too much air while eating or drinking too fast, so see that your puppy eats calmly and slowly to ensure they don’t take in too much air. You can try giving them smaller portions at a time, and more frequent meals throughout the day. 

Closing Thoughts

Hiccups are normal in humans, puppies and in the young of most other mammals, and even fetuses are known to have hiccups in the womb. 

If your little ball of fur hiccups sometimes, don’t immediately assume they have worms or any other medical condition, except its persistent hiccups accompanied by vomiting, coughing, shortness of breath, lethargy and other symptoms of ill health. 

Puppy hiccups are generally not a sign of an illness and will eventually disappear as your dog gets older, it’s nothing you should worry about even if your pup hiccups whenever they wake up or while sleeping.