Adorable or alarming? Here’s what to know and do when your new puppy gets the hiccups.

Hiccups are a funny sound, except when they’re coming from your new puppy. Watching his little body jump with every “hic” may be enough to worry any new pet parent. Here’s what you should know about puppy hiccups. 

Hiccups are a mammal thing: You get them, and so can your puppy. Hiccups are sharp little intakes of breath that are caused by repetitive contractions of the diaphragm muscle, which is located under the lungs. If your diaphragm is irritated by something— like eating or drinking too much—it contracts involuntarily. Each contraction forces the vocal cords to close, creating the characteristic "hic!" sound. It works the same way for puppies.

What Causes Puppy Hiccups?

So what can be irritating your puppy’s diaphragm? These uncontrollable contractions may be simply caused by your puppy’s excitement. He may have eaten his food too fast. Or consumed water too fast. Puppies are exuberant little beings, and it’s hard for them to control their enthusiasm. Or your puppy simply may have gas, and hiccups are the result. Puppies of all ages—from tiny newborns to galloping 4-month-olds—may get hiccups. In fact, dogs of all ages can get hiccups.  

Can You Stop Your Puppy’s Hiccups?

Just like in humans, finding a remedy for hiccups is difficult. There are a wide range of home remedies for ridding humans of hiccups (holding your breath, breathing into a paper bag, or gargling), but none of these remedies is scientifically proven to work in humans, much less in dogs (imagine trying to teach a dog to gargle!). Ultimately, your puppy’s hiccups will go away on their own.

Do Hiccups Hurt Your Puppy?

Although hiccups can be annoying to the person/pet who has them, they don’t hurt. They are more surprising than painful. Keep in mind that nothing bad is happening inside your puppy when he is hiccuping. 

When Are Hiccups a Concern?

A bout of hiccups might be a concern to the owner of a new puppy, especially if they are adopting their first puppy. Karen Marlsberger Martin, director of the Franklin County Humane Society in Eastpoint, Fl., says not to worry. “Hiccups are common,” she says. “Puppies do get hiccups, often due to eating or drinking too quickly.” New puppy owners are especially vigilant in watching their pet’s health. Martin suggests that any time a new puppy owner feels concerned about their puppy’s reaction (even over something as common as hiccups), that they should reach out to their veterinarian with questions.