Hiccuping is a reaction in the body that can be simultaneously amusing and frustrating. This is true for our pet dogs as well as our friends and family. A puppy with hiccups is pretty cute and some owners may end up filming them for social media. As a Frenchie owner you may find that this happens more often than expected, and this can be cause for concern after a while.
There are a few key reasons for French Bulldog hiccups. The genetics of brachycephalic breeds make them more likely to get hiccups when eating, drinking, or being energetic. These spasms of the diaphragm are more frequent in puppies. While these episodes aren’t typically dangerous, it is worthwhile watching out for any additional symptoms and offering relief where possible.
Understanding the causes and any potential health issues allows us to take better care of our pets and spot warning signs for hidden issues. Where possible, we might even be able to reduce the frequency of these hiccups. So, why do Frenchies get hiccups and what can we do about it?
In short, it is common for Frenchies to experience hiccuping, especially when they are puppies. Most of the time, this is nothing to worry about and you can relieve it with a massage. But, you might also want to consider a different feeding regime to minimize hiccuping when they are adults. Limit the risk factors and be there for them if they get distressed.
What are dog hiccups?
Simply put, hiccups occur when there is an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm. This is an important muscle between the chest and abdomen that helps us regulate our breathing. Any spasm or contraction, caused by irritation or irregular breathing, has an impact on the lungs and the muscles around the vocal cords. Hiccuping stops when the contractions stop and the diaphragm can work as it should. You are undoubtedly familiar with the sensation yourself, but it can surprise dog owners to see this happen with their pets.
There are two common reasons for hiccups in French Bulldogs
1. Eating or drinking too fast
Your Frenchie may be eating or drinking a little too fast and gulping in too much air. This is more common with Frenchie puppies because of the shape of their face and their eagerness to feed. They might snap at the food and take in too much air between bites, or as they miss the target.
There is also the fact that many Frenchies struggle to reach food in normal bowls because of their shorter necks. You can learn more about how to handle this below.
2. Taking in too much air during playtime
The second main reason for hiccups is that your Frenchie puppy may have taken in too much air during physical activity. If your pet commonly gets hiccups after a walk or while playing, this is probably the reason why.
They may gasp for breath when exerting themselves, even if the exercise doesn’t appear to be that strenuous to us. This can include a long walk or a pace that may be tiring after a while. They may also get hiccups after playing games or fetch if there is a sudden burst of energy and a need to catch their breath.
Hiccuping and overheating in Frenchies
It is also important to be aware of the link between hiccups and a dangerous temperature level. Dogs can start to breathe more rapidly when dealing with extreme temperature changes – this could be heatstroke during hotter summer months or hypothermia in colder winter months.
This is where hiccups are a symptom of something more dangerous and you need to act fast to deal with the deeper issue. Take all appropriate measures to bring your dog’s temperature back under control and get medical help whenever necessary.
Your bulldog’s genetics play a big part in these hiccuping fits.
Never forget that French Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed. This condition leads to deformities in the skull and airways due to over-breeding. Dog lovers prize breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs for their cute looks. However, those squashed in faces can lead to some dangerous health issues. Deformities in the airways and difficulty getting enough air could have a greater impact on the frequency of bouts of hiccups. Of course, that shorter snout and those breathing issues also relate to those struggles when exercising, drinking, or feeding.
Are hiccups more common in puppies than in adult Frenchies?
It is more likely that you will see these bursts of hiccups in younger dogs. First of all, their smaller, underdeveloped snouts can’t reach into their water or food bowls as easily. This could increase the risk of them gulping in air as they eat. Also, their eagerness to feed may mean that they lack the control to slow down and eat at a safer speed.
This energetic nature is also a contributing factor when dealing with exercise-related hiccups. Young pups that run around and want to burn off energy all day can deal with some intense hiccup sessions.
Will puppies grow out of hiccups?
The problem should get better with age, as dogs become calmer and aren’t as likely to gulp in as much air between bites of food. However, that facial structure and shorten airway does mean that problem won’t go away entirely. Infrequent moments of hiccuping are fine, but watch out if it becomes more frequent.
Are Frenchie hiccups dangerous?
Typically not. They are just like our own hiccuping fit and will pass without any harm. However, it does help to stay with your pet in case they get distressed by the hiccups. You can also work to relieve them via some of the methods below.
It is also important to make sure that there are no other symptoms alongside these hiccups. Additional problems like coughing or reverse sneezing could be a sign of respiratory illness. If your Frenchie goes from having infrequent hiccups to more violent and regular bouts, it might be worthwhile taking them to the vet for a check-up.
How can you stop French Bulldog hiccups?
The tricks that we use as humans of hiccups aren’t going to work here. You can’t teach Frenchies any clever breathing exercises or scare the hiccups out of them.
One option is to lay them on their back and give them a tummy rub. This works in two ways. The rhythmic massage of the belly and chest could help to calm the muscles in the diaphragm and regulate breathing. There is also to fact that this tummy rub will help to calm your dog and this stress relief could have a positive effect on their breathing.
Then there are dog owners that swear by using a spoonful of honey. This is something that humans do for their own hiccups as a way of soothing the throat and reducing irritation. The idea here is that it will have a similar effect on dogs and also distract them from the sensation. But, there is no guarantee of it working.
A change in diet or feeding station could also help.
Other long-term options here include portion control, a change of diet to a grain-free formula, and a raised anti-choke feeding area. Switching to a grain-free diet is a great idea for many dogs for lots of health reasons. Many pet parents find that that it eases digestion and gassiness, which could, in turn, reduce and distress around the diaphragm. Some go further by reducing portion sizes and monitoring their pets to make sure that they don’t eat too much at once and gulp in too much air.
From there, you might want to consider a different feeding station that is raised up from the ground. This stops brachycephalic dogs like Frenchies from bending over too far, obstructing their airways, and generally feeling uncomfortable. There are also anti-choke bowls that rotate to force pets to slow down their feeding.
Frenchie puppy hiccups are common and rarely cause for concern.
Should I be worried about my French Bulldog hiccuping?
What this all means is that the issue of French Bulldog puppy hiccups isn’t as black and white as you might think. There are plenty of dogs that get hiccups frequently as pups as they eat or play, grow out of it, and suffer no ill-effect. But, there is also the risk of hiccuping in adulthood due to their genetic make-up. You may also find that hiccuping is a symptom of something else, so you should watch out for other medical issues and seek help whenever you need it.
- Normal Frenchie hiccups are the result of gulping air while eating, drinking, and exercising.
- Puppies get this more frequently but it isn’t uncommon in adults either due to their brachycephalic genes.
- Hiccuping can be a sign of distress in extreme temperatures or other respiratory issues.
- It is possible to ease hiccuping fits with calm massages.
- Long-term changes in diets and feeding stations may help too.