Why Do Dogs Get Hiccups When Sleeping? The Answer Will Delight You

 Hiccups, much like in humans, are a common occurrence in dogs. They are much more common with puppies and are not generally considered to be dangerous.

But why do dogs get hiccups when sleeping?

When your furry friend experiences diaphragm spasms while sleeping, it is usually because of excess fatigue or stress.

Dogs also experience compelling dreams while they sleep, and the excitement will cause irregular patterns in their breathing.

Since dogs will dream in the REM stage, they will breathe more heavily and physically move around, which in turn irritates the diaphragm muscle.

Dogs may also get hiccups when sleeping if they’ve had a big meal or large drink of water right before bed. Eating or drinking quickly will add to that effect and make hiccups even more commonplace in your dog. 

Curious Hiccups Of The Dog In The Night-Time: Why Do Dogs Get Hiccups When Sleeping?

According to Dr. Audrey J. Wystrach, hiccups are involuntary diaphragmatic contractions. Normally the movement of the diaphragm is regular and smooth, but sometimes external factors can make the muscle spasm.

There isn’t one definitive answer as to what causes hiccups, but there are many theories that all seem to make sense. For example,  dog or a puppy hiccups are thought to occur when they are overly stressed or excited, or they breathe in too much air suddenly.

Dogs that become too energetic while playing will develop irregular or rapid breathing, which can then cause hiccups as the oxygen is being quickly transferred back and forth.

A bout of hiccups can also occur if your pup inhales an irritating substance and chokes or eats or drinks too fast.

The diaphragm itself is a dome-shaped skeletal muscle that divides the abdomen and chest. The diaphragm’s key responsibility is to drive the respiration process in dogs.

When a dog inhales, the diaphragm will contract, move down, and make extra space in the chest cavity for the lungs to extend. When a dog exhales, the diaphragm will relax and move upward toward the chest cavity.

How Normal Is It For Dogs To Get Hiccups When Sleeping?


Uwe Gille assumed (based on copyright claims). / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)
Uwe Gille assumed (based on copyright claims). / CC BY-SA

You may be wondering: what is the cause of dog hiccups when sleeping? Also, is hiccupping during sleep a common event for all dogs?

When your dog is awake, hiccups can be caused by eating or drinking too quickly as previously mentioned. There are many possible reasons that could be behind why a dog experiences hiccups in its sleep.

Hiccupping during sleep is much more typical in smaller puppies than in larger adult dogs. Many dogs will go through hiccups at least once during their puppyhood.

Puppies are more likely to experience hiccups because of their elevated excitement and energy levels. Everything is so new to them that they experience a sensory overload every single day as they see, smell, and hear something they haven’t encountered before.

This can mean that they even dream a lot more, which will in turn cause peculiar breathing patterns while sleeping.

It could be having a particularly exciting dream fighting squirrels or eating pecan pie during REM sleep, causing it to pant or breath excitedly. If your dog breathes in too much air too quickly while it snores and dreams, it can also cause loud involuntary breaths during its deep slumber.

However, it could just be that your dog is experiencing reverse sneezes rather than hiccups.

It is easy to confuse reverse sneezes with hiccups, but they do have differences. Reverse sneezes occur when your dog quickly inhales air in through the nose, while hiccups are little snippets of air being pushed out through the mouth..

How To Help Your Dog When It Gets Hiccups During Sleep

Most of the time, you don’t have to be worried or do anything at all when your dog has the hiccups- even when it is sleeping. Hiccups are generally as harmless in dogs as they are in humans, and will be resolved on their own naturally.

Normal hiccupping sessions can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Granted, a few hours is a long time especially during sleep, so if you are concerned that your dog or puppy hiccups continuously, there are many things that you can do to help your pup get rid of the bothersome spasm.

Disturb Your Dog From Its Slumber

The first thing to do is to wake your dog up from whatever dream it is having. You need to bring it back to the real, conscious world again so that it realizes that it can relax. The quicker you can bring your dog down from an excited state, and the quicker the hiccups will recede.

Relax Your Dog, Relieve Its Hiccups

You can help to relax your dog by providing soft back rubs. This will help to destress and soothe it considerably- and who doesn’t like back rubs!

Another way to calm your furry friend down is to talk to it in a soft tone while stroking its fur. An owner’s soothing voice is a panacea to the world’s problems for dogs, and will help its breathing return to a regular rhythm very quickly.

A relaxing walk in the park is another simple but effective solution for hiccups. A calming walk will help improve the breathing and relax your dog’s heart rate.

If your dog gets exposed to a variety of outdoor smells, sights, and noises, it could be enough of a distraction that it ‘forgets’ its hiccups.

Hydration For Hiccups

You can also try to eliminate hiccups by providing your dog with some water. If your dog drinks water, it will help to hydrate the body and enable the hiccups to settle down.

Make sure that your dog drinks the water in small quantities and at a slower rate. Doing so will allow the dog’s airways the opportunity to clear up and stop the hiccups.

Sweet treats can be a useful distraction for your dog when it comes to hiccups.

You can offer your furry friend a little bit of maple syrup or honey in their water, or sugar cane juice to help to calm the hiccups. These treats may be able to relax your dog’s throat and smooth over the air passages to calm any irritation.

Something out of the ordinary will provide a welcome distraction for your dog, and switching its focus onto a treat may be able to relax its breathing.

Just be sure not to go overboard with the honey or sugar, as too much sugar is detrimental to the health of your dog. A drop is enough!

Play And Forget!

Playtime can also be an effective distraction from the hiccups that your dog is currently experiencing. If you have an active dog, this will likely do the trick- though you may have trouble getting it back to sleep afterwards!

If you want to return your dog’s breathing to normal, a game of fetch or a quick run around the house will help to fix the hiccups in short order.

However, be mindful of not overworking your dog. If you exhaust your dog too much, it may complicate the breathing and further exacerbate the issue.

Massage The Hiccups Straight Out Of Your Dog

Chest massages can help get rid of the hiccups instantly if you have the magic touch.

Once you get your dog to roll over, give the chest a smooth rub near the belly area for 5-10 minutes.

Dogs love these types of massages, and doing so during hiccups can be very helpful in calming down the irritated diaphragm. A belly rub will also realign the diaphragm into the position that its supposed to be in.

Adjust Meal Times


Why do dogs get hiccups when sleeping? Puppy sleeping next to food bowl

Lastly, you might need to alter your dog’s feeding schedule if it continues to get the hiccups while sleeping.

Depending on your dog’s size and appetite, you might need to adjust the quantity, timing or frequency. If your dog usually only eats one meal later at night, try to split it up into two or three smaller meals throughout the day.

The same applies for if your dog eats too quickly and swallows without chewing. As you already know, eating too quickly is one of the main possible reasons that dogs get hiccups. For must-know tips on how to get your dog to chew and eat slower, read this!

If a dog eats late at night before bedtime and eats too quickly as well, that is a recipe for recurring nighttime diaphragm spasms. Adjust accordingly!

Dietary food choices could also be a contributing factor to your dog’s hiccups. Foods that are high in grain tend to cause hiccups in dogs, so try to switch your dog onto a more protein-based diet.

Could Hiccups Require A Trip To The Vet?

It is entirely reasonable to consult with your veterinarian if you notice excessive hiccupping from your dog.

For the most part, hiccups are nothing to worry about. However, there are rare cases where hiccups could notify a much more severe underlying condition. These issues could include pneumonia, respiratory dysfunction, pericarditis, heatstroke, or asthma.

If the hiccups persist continually for more than a couple hours, it may be time to call your veterinarian and ask for assistance. Your vet will be able take a closer look at your dog’s lungs and diaphragm and spot any possible issue before it worsens.

In Summary

So, why do dogs get hiccups when they are sleeping?

While it can be difficult to pinpoint why a dog hiccups, awake or sleeping, there are a few different theories that everyone seems to be in agreement on.

One train of thought is that hiccups may be spurred by underlying emotions being experienced by your dog. If a dog is feeling particularly stressed or excited, it could breathe or pant more quickly than more.

These sharp, fast intakes of oxygen run contrary to the normally smooth movement of the diaphragm, and can cause the muscle itself to spasm. This causes air to be pushed in short bursts out of the mouth- namely hiccups.

Dogs can experience these same emotions in their sleep through dreams, and the same irregular breathing patterns can occur unconsciously. This may explain why a dog hiccups while sleeping.

Finally, hiccups can also happen if a dog eats or drinks too quickly and inhales a lot of oxygen along with its meal. It follows that if a dog does this right before bedtime, it could experience delayed hiccups while it sleeps.

Whatever the reason, hiccups usually aren’t dangerous and will pass in their own time. There are some things that you can do to stop your dog hiccupping, such as giving it massages or helping it to relax.

If the hiccups do persist for over two hours continuously, it would be a good idea to consult a vet. When hiccups last for that long, it could be a sign that your dog has a respiratory problem that hasn’t yet been diagnosed, such as asthma or pneumonia.

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