July 09, 2024

Why pets get those adorable hiccups. And how you stop them!

Why pets get those adorable hiccups. And how you stop them!
Dr. Chris Brown


You’re not imagining things. That adorable little ‘hic’ is something all members of the hairy (and human) family experience.

So here’s what they really are! And a neat trick to stop them…

They might be one of the cutest things on the pet planet. Hiccups.

But here’s a crazy fact. Every species of mammal on Earth gets the hiccups. There’s even some reports of fish having them. But despite billions of hiccups occurring across the world every day, we still don’t truly know what causes them.

What are they?

Hiccups happen when the diaphragm, that broad, thin muscle between their lungs and their abdomen, suddenly contracts. It draws in air rapidly, causing the larynx to close. The rush of air into this closed space means pets (and people) make a cute ‘hic’ sound.

What we think is behind them:
Trigger the nerve that runs down the food pipe (the oesophagus) and you seem to be more likely to experience hiccups. So in dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, horses, cows and just about everything else that’s furry, that comes from:

  • Eating too quickly
  • Drinking water too quickly
  • Sudden intense exercise
  • Playing rough

Interestingly, the younger animals are, the more likely they are to get hiccups. That seems to be because all of the above are more likely!


Are they serious?

Ninety nine percent of the time, no. They’re just part of life. The only danger comes from when they’re confused with something else that is serious. Like an object being stuck in the throat, asthma, pneumonia, a fur ball or an attempt to vomit…

How do you stop them?

Sure drinking upside down might be a stretch. But thankfully, they should resolve all by themselves. But if you’re seeing persistent pet hiccups, you can try to (whilst standing) offer them some room temperature water. With a small amount of honey or tinned tuna juice (the springwater kind…not the oil!). A gentle walk around the block can also help…

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