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Why Do Dogs Get Hiccups at Night or When Resting? Explained

why dogs get hiccups at night

While they seem harmless, you may be wondering why your dogs get hiccups at night. Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to hiccups, which are normal and can manifest at any time of day or night. Puppy hiccups are quite common but dogs get hiccups when sleeping at any age.

Hiccups are almost always harmless. So you can relax the next time your pup’s hiccups wake you up in the middle of the night from their doggy bed. However, they can very rarely be a sign of an underlying health issue; emphasis on rarely.

In this article, we’ll explore reasons why dogs get hiccups, the sleep cycle of dogs, dog breeds prone to hiccups, and tips for preventing nighttime hiccups. We’ve sought the help of experts and academic journals to truly get into this common yet somewhat unusual matter.

Hiccups are not uncommon and are pretty funny to the unaffected person. But our dogs are our fur babies, and we certainly don’t want to see them in the discomfort hiccups cause. Still,  hiccups are far less concerning than situations like dog wheezing and excessive coughing.

If a loved one randomly started having hiccups, you probably wouldn’t jump in to save them. However, our canines are a whole different story.

Overall, hiccups in dogs are usually harmless and will go away on their own. However, if hiccups persist for an extended period, it is essential to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Check out this puppy getting mad at his own hiccups:

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Key Takeaways

  • Dog hiccups result from involuntary contractions of the diaphragm and are usually harmless.
  • Understanding the sleep cycle of dogs and potential triggers can help prevent nighttime hiccups.
  • Consult a vet if your dog’s hiccups become frequent or severe, as they may indicate an underlying health issue.

Understanding Dog Hiccups: The Science Behind Hiccups

Dog hiccups are a common occurrence that can happen at any time of the day, including when they are sleeping. Hiccups result from involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, which can occur for various reasons. 

While hiccups are harmless and usually go away on their own, it can be concerning for pet owners to see their furry friend hiccuping in their sleep.

As per research, hiccups belong to one of three categories. These include transient hiccups lasting for a few seconds,  persistent hiccups for longer than 48 hours, and recurrent hiccups that keep coming back frequently. 

Knowing the category of your dog’s hiccups will show you the severity and whether they’re a cause of concern. For example, hiccups lasting for more than 48 hours (persistent hiccups) can indicate central nervous system disorders like hemorrhagic stroke and Vagus or phrenic nerve irritation. 

In fact, long-lasting hiccups have been so bothersome to some patients that science has sought solutions.

 A study proved FISST effectiveness, a drinking tube with an inlet valve that requires forceful suction to draw water from a cup into the mouth. This tube helped patients with severe hiccups due to brain and stroke injury when swallowing the water, and forceful suction relieved hiccups. 

If a dog experiences hiccups for an extended period and has signs like throwing up and diarrhea, it is essential to consult a vet. In most cases, however, hiccups are harmless and go away alone. 

Fun fact: The medical term for hiccups is “Singultus.”

7 Causes of Dog Hiccups at Night Or While Resting

Scientific sources show that the reasons for hiccups generally are idiopathic/ largely unknown. However, experts believe the following reasons may cause minor hiccups at night. 

1. Eating or Drinking Too Quickly

Dogs that eat or drink too quickly can swallow air, irritating the diaphragm and leading to hiccups. So if your dog tends to get hiccups right after wolfing down their dinner, now you know why.

2. Excitement or Stress

Dogs that are over-excited or stressed may experience hiccups as a result of the increased activity in their bodies. Intense excitement or stress can lead to rapid breathing or changes in their diaphragm contractions, resulting in hiccups.

Excitement before a walk, playtime, or meeting new people or animals can all contribute to these sudden spasms.

3. Temperature Changes

Going from a warm environment to a cooler one or vice versa can cause rapid breathing, which, in turn, may induce hiccups. Ensuring a comfortable and consistent ambient temperature in your home can help minimize these instances.

4. Gastrointestinal Issues

Gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux or stomach inflammation can irritate the diaphragm and cause hiccups. A study showed that GI issues like gastritis, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and bowel obstruction are the leading cause of persistent hiccups (more than 48 hours).

5. Respiratory Issues

Respiratory issues, pneumonia, empyema, bronchitis, asthma, and pleuritis can also irritate the diaphragm and cause hiccups.

6. Certain Medications 

Research shows that certain medications like Benzodiazepines, steroids, dopamine antagonists, and macrolides can cause hiccups. The drugs may be responsible if your dog was recently medicated and started having hiccups. Even toxins such as alcohol can cause hiccups in dogs and other signs like foaming in the mouth and leg shaking.

7. Vagus and Phrenic Nerve Irritation

Because the hiccup reflex consists of the afferent limb (phrenic nerve, vagus nerve, or thoracic sympathetic fibers), constant hiccups can suggest an issue with these nerves. Hiccups lasting more than 48 hours can imply nerve issues due to goiter, pharyngitis, laryngitis, hair or foreign-body irritation

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The Sleep Cycle of Dogs

Dogs, like humans, experience different stages of sleep throughout the night. Different brain waves and physiological changes characterize these stages. Dogs have very short sleep cycles, alternating between REM and non-REM sleep about two times.

REM Sleep

During the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, dogs experience various physiological changes, including increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and muscle twitching. This is also the stage in which most dreaming occurs, and your dog can also whimper in their sleep.

Research has shown that dogs spend about 10-12% of their total sleep time in REM sleep. This stage typically occurs about 20 minutes after a dog falls asleep and recurs every 90 minutes or so throughout the night.


Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle. They can occur in both humans and dogs and are generally harmless. In fact, most dog hiccups resolve independently within a few minutes.

While the exact cause of hiccups in dogs is not fully understood, they may be related to gastrointestinal issues, excitement, or stress. Sometimes, hiccups may also occur during sleep, particularly during the REM stage.

It’s unclear why hiccups occur during REM sleep, but some researchers speculate that it may be related to increased activity in the diaphragm muscle during this stage. However, more research is needed to understand the relationship between REM sleep and dog hiccups fully.

Dog Breeds Prone to Hiccups

Hiccups are common in dogs, and some breeds are more prone to them than others. Hiccups are by far most common in puppies, but can happen to dogs of any age. While hiccups are generally harmless, they can be a nuisance to the dog and the owner. Here are some dog breeds that are more likely to experience hiccups:

Brachycephalic Breeds 

Brachycephalic breeds may experience hiccups more frequently than other breeds due to their short snouts, making it harder for them to breathe correctly. These include boxers, Pugs, Frenchies, Shih Tzus, and Bulldogs, to mention a few.

Toy Breeds

Toy breeds, such as the Yorkshire Terrier and the Pomeranian, are small dog breeds known for their cute and cuddly appearance. Toy breeds may experience hiccups more frequently than others due to their small size and high energy levels.

Preventing Nighttime Hiccups In Dogs

Nighttime hiccups in dogs can be uncomfortable and disruptive for the dog and its owner. Fortunately, several things can help prevent or reduce the frequency of nighttime hiccups in dogs.

One of the most effective ways to prevent nighttime hiccups in dogs is to avoid feeding them right before bedtime. This is especially important for dogs prone to gastrointestinal issues, as a full stomach can increase the likelihood of hiccups. Instead, feeding the dog several hours before bed is recommended, allowing ample time for digestion.

Another way to prevent nighttime hiccups in dogs is to ensure that they are getting enough exercise during the day. A lack of exercise can lead to excess energy buildup, manifesting as hiccups during sleep. 

In addition to exercise, it is essential to ensure the dog gets enough water throughout the day. Dehydration can also lead to hiccups, so providing the dog with access to fresh water can help prevent nighttime hiccups.

Lastly, it is recommended to avoid exposing the dog to stressful situations before bedtime. Stress can cause hiccups in dogs, so it is essential to keep the dog calm and relaxed during bedtime, as achieved through activities such as gentle play, massage, or calming music.

Fast Ways To Get Rid of Hiccups In A Dog

  1. Calm and regulate their breathing. Getting your dog on the back and giving a gentle belly massage can help in this process. However, there’s no scientific evidence to back this maneuver. 
  2. Offer him some water or a dog-safe beverage like broth and fresh fruit juice if they’re not in the mood for plain water.
  3. Relax and let the hiccups pass.
  4. Show your dog that hiccups are normal by petting and reassuring them.
  5. Some report that giving a teaspoon of peanut butter or unsweetened maple syrup or honey can help by coating the dog’s throat.

When To Consult A Vet

If a dog experiences hiccups occasionally, it is usually not a cause for concern. However, if the hiccups are persistent, occur frequently, or are accompanied by other symptoms, it may be necessary to consult a veterinarian.

Here are some situations where a pet owner should consider seeking veterinary care:

  • If the dog’s hiccups last more than a few hours or occur frequently, it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition like Vagus and phrenic nerve irritation requiring treatment.
  • If the dog is experiencing other symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, or difficulty breathing, it may be a sign of a more serious health problem.
  • If the dog takes medication that may cause hiccups as a side effect, adjusting the dosage or switching medication may be necessary.
  • If the dog has a history of medical problems, such as gastrointestinal issues or respiratory problems, they may be more susceptible to developing hiccups and should be monitored closely.

Generally, if a pet owner is concerned about their dog’s hiccups or any other health issue, it is always best to consult a veterinarian. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes hiccups in dogs?

Hiccups in dogs are caused by involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle and are triggered by various factors, such as eating too fast, drinking too much water, or excitement.

How common are hiccups in dogs?

Hiccups are a common occurrence in dogs, especially in puppies. They usually go away on their own and do not require medical attention.

Do hiccups in dogs indicate a health problem?

Hiccups in dogs are usually harmless and do not indicate a health problem. However, if your dog has frequent hiccups that last for a long time, it may indicate an underlying medical condition.

Can stress or anxiety cause hiccups in dogs?

Stress and anxiety can contribute to hiccups in dogs, as they can cause irregular breathing patterns. However, hiccups are usually not a severe symptom of stress or anxiety.

Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting hiccups?

You can help prevent your dog from getting hiccups by feeding them smaller meals throughout the day, making sure they drink water slowly and avoiding feeding them right before bedtime.

When should I seek veterinary care for my dog’s hiccups?

If your dog has frequent hiccups or they last for a long time, it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. You should seek veterinary care if other symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or difficulty breathing, accompany your dog’s hiccups.

Final Thoughts

There are several potential causes of hiccups in dogs, including eating too quickly, swallowing air, or an underlying medical condition. By addressing these underlying issues, pet owners can help reduce the frequency and severity of their dog’s hiccups.

Dog hiccups at night are a common occurrence and are usually harmless. They can occur at any time, including during sleep, and are not necessarily a cause for concern. However, if the hiccups persist for an extended period or are accompanied by other symptoms, it is advisable to seek veterinary attention.


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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