Can Horses Get Hiccups?

Yes, horses can get hiccups, just like humans. Hiccups in horses are caused by the involuntary contractions of the diaphragm. This can occur due to various reasons such as eating too quickly, ingesting air, or sudden changes in temperature. While hiccups are generally harmless and resolve on their own, persistent or severe hiccups may require veterinary attention. Understanding the causes and management of hiccups in horses can help ensure their well-being and overall health.

can horses get hiccups

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Hiccups in Horses

Hiccups, also known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF), can occur in horses and can be a cause of concern for horse owners. In this section, we will discuss the symptoms of hiccups in horses and how they can be diagnosed.

1. Repetitive, rhythmic contractions: One of the main symptoms of hiccups in horses is repetitive, rhythmic contractions of the diaphragm. These contractions are involuntary and can be observed as a series of jerky movements in the abdomen or flanks of the horse.

2. Abnormal breathing patterns: Horses with hiccups may exhibit abnormal breathing patterns. This can include rapid, shallow breaths or even brief pauses in breathing during the hiccup episodes.

3. Behavioral changes: Hiccups can cause discomfort and irritability in horses. As a result, affected horses may exhibit behavioral changes such as restlessness, agitation, or even colic-like symptoms.

4. Duration and frequency: Hiccups in horses can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. The frequency of hiccup episodes can vary as well, with some horses experiencing them only occasionally while others may have them more frequently.

In order to diagnose hiccups in horses, a veterinarian will typically perform a thorough physical examination and take into account the horse’s medical history. Additional diagnostic tests may be conducted to rule out other underlying conditions or to further assess the horse’s respiratory system.

During the physical examination, the veterinarian may observe the horse’s breathing patterns, listen to their lung sounds, and palpate their abdomen for any abnormalities. They may also ask the owner about the frequency and duration of the hiccup episodes.

In some cases, the veterinarian may recommend further diagnostic tests such as a blood test, chest X-ray, or ultrasound to rule out other potential causes of the symptoms or to assess the horse’s overall health.

It’s important for horse owners to keep a record of the horse’s symptoms, including the frequency and duration of hiccup episodes, as this information can be helpful for the veterinarian in making a diagnosis.

In summary, hiccups in horses can manifest as repetitive, rhythmic contractions of the diaphragm, abnormal breathing patterns, and behavioral changes. A veterinarian will typically perform a physical examination and may recommend additional diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other underlying conditions. Keeping a record of the horse’s symptoms can assist in the diagnostic process.

Natural Remedies to Relieve Hiccups in Horses

In this section, we will discuss some natural remedies that can help relieve hiccups in horses. Hiccups, also known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter or thumps, can be a common occurrence in horses and often resolve on their own. However, in some cases, hiccups can be persistent and uncomfortable for the horse. It is important to address hiccups promptly to ensure the well-being and comfort of your horse.

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1. Relaxation Techniques

One of the first steps in relieving hiccups in horses is to create a calm and relaxed environment. Stress and anxiety can contribute to hiccups, so it is important to minimize any potential triggers. Provide a quiet and comfortable space for your horse and avoid any sudden movements or loud noises. Gentle grooming and massage can also help relax the horse and alleviate hiccups.

2. Adjusting Feeding Habits

In some cases, hiccups in horses may be caused by rapid or excessive eating. To prevent hiccups, ensure that your horse has a consistent feeding routine and is given small, frequent meals throughout the day. Avoid overfeeding or feeding large quantities of food at once, as this can put strain on the diaphragm and lead to hiccups. It is also important to provide clean and fresh water at all times to maintain proper hydration.

3. Herbal Remedies

There are several herbal remedies that can be used to alleviate hiccups in horses. Chamomile, valerian root, and ginger are known for their calming properties and can help relax the diaphragm. These herbs can be administered in the form of teas, tinctures, or added to the horse’s feed. However, it is important to consult with a veterinarian or an equine herbalist before using any herbal remedies to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your horse.

4. Changing the Environment

If hiccups persist, it may be beneficial to evaluate the horse’s living environment. Dust, mold, and other airborne irritants can contribute to respiratory discomfort and hiccups in horses. Ensure that the stable or pasture is clean, well-ventilated, and free from potential allergens. Consider using equine-friendly bedding materials and providing ample turnout time to allow the horse to breathe fresh air and move freely.

5. Seeking Veterinary Care

If hiccups continue to persist or worsen despite trying natural remedies, it is essential to seek veterinary care. A veterinarian will be able to evaluate the horse’s overall health and determine if there is an underlying medical condition causing the hiccups. They may recommend further diagnostic tests, such as blood work or imaging, to identify the root cause. In some cases, medication or other medical interventions may be necessary to alleviate the hiccups.


While hiccups in horses can often resolve on their own, it is important to address persistent or uncomfortable hiccups. Natural remedies, such as relaxation techniques, adjusting feeding habits, herbal remedies, and changing the environment, can be effective in relieving hiccups. However, if hiccups persist or worsen, it is crucial to seek veterinary care to ensure the well-being of the horse.

Preventing Hiccups in Horses through Proper Care

As horse owners, it is our responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of our equine companions. While hiccups may seem like a minor issue, they can actually be quite uncomfortable and even painful for horses. Therefore, it is important to take preventive measures to minimize the occurrence of hiccups in our equine friends. In this section, we will discuss some effective strategies for preventing hiccups in horses through proper care.

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1. Provide a balanced diet

One of the key factors in preventing hiccups in horses is maintaining a balanced diet. Horses should have access to high-quality forage, such as grass or hay, as well as a proper concentrate feed that meets their nutritional needs. Avoid sudden changes in diet or overfeeding, as these can disrupt the horse’s digestive system and potentially lead to hiccups.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that the horse has access to clean and fresh drinking water at all times. Dehydration can contribute to digestive issues and increase the likelihood of hiccups. Regularly monitor the horse’s water intake and provide appropriate hydration, especially during hot weather or intense exercise.

2. Implement a consistent feeding routine

Establishing a consistent feeding routine can also help prevent hiccups in horses. Horses thrive on routine, and their digestive system works best when they are fed at the same times each day. Create a feeding schedule that allows for regular and divided meals throughout the day, rather than one large meal. This helps to promote proper digestion and minimizes the chances of hiccups.

3. Promote regular exercise

Regular exercise is not only beneficial for a horse’s overall health, but it also aids in preventing hiccups. Exercise helps to stimulate digestion and keeps the horse’s gastrointestinal tract functioning properly. Allow the horse to engage in daily turnout or provide regular exercise sessions, such as riding or lunging, to promote healthy digestion and reduce the risk of hiccups.

4. Avoid stress and anxiety

Horses are sensitive animals that can easily become stressed or anxious, which can disrupt their digestive system and lead to hiccups. Minimize stressors in the horse’s environment and provide a calm and secure living space. Establishing a consistent daily routine, providing ample turnout time, and ensuring social interaction with other horses can all contribute to reducing stress levels and preventing hiccups.

5. Dental care

Proper dental care is crucial for a horse’s overall well-being and can help prevent hiccups. Regular dental check-ups and floating of teeth can address any dental issues that could interfere with the horse’s chewing and digestion. A horse with dental problems may not be able to chew its food properly, leading to digestive disturbances and hiccups.

By following these preventive measures and maintaining proper care for your horses, you can significantly reduce the occurrence of hiccups. Remember that prevention is always better than cure, and providing a healthy and stress-free environment for your equine companions is essential to their overall health and well-being.

When to Seek Veterinary Assistance for Hiccups in Horses

Hiccups in horses are not a common occurrence, but when they do happen, it can be a cause for concern. Hiccups, medically known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter, are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle. While hiccups in horses are typically harmless and resolve on their own, there are certain situations where it is advisable to seek veterinary assistance.

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1. Duration of Hiccups

If a horse experiences hiccups that last for an extended period of time or are recurrent, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian. Hiccups that persist for more than a few minutes or occur frequently throughout the day may indicate an underlying health issue that requires medical attention.

2. Severity of Symptoms

While hiccups in horses are generally harmless, severe hiccups that cause distress or discomfort to the horse should not be ignored. If the horse appears agitated, is unable to eat or drink, or shows signs of pain during the hiccups, it is crucial to contact a veterinarian for further evaluation.

3. Changes in Behavior

If the horse’s behavior changes significantly during or after experiencing hiccups, it is advisable to seek veterinary assistance. Horses may exhibit signs of restlessness, anxiety, or unusual movements when experiencing prolonged or severe hiccups. These behavioral changes could be indicative of an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed.

4. Impact on Performance

In cases where hiccups start to affect the horse’s performance, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian. Hiccups can interfere with a horse’s ability to work, exercise, or compete effectively. If a horse’s hiccups are causing hindrance or affecting their overall performance, it is important to seek professional guidance.

5. Other Associated Symptoms

If the horse has hiccups accompanied by other worrisome symptoms, it is crucial to involve a veterinarian. These symptoms may include difficulty breathing, coughing, nasal discharge, or any other signs of respiratory distress. The presence of additional symptoms could indicate an underlying respiratory problem that requires immediate attention.


Hiccups in horses are generally benign and self-resolving. However, if hiccups persist for an extended period of time, cause severe distress or discomfort, result in behavioral changes, impact performance, or are accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is recommended to seek veterinary assistance. A veterinarian can evaluate the horse’s condition, identify any underlying issues, and provide appropriate treatment or management strategies.


Can horses get hiccups?

Yes, horses can get hiccups just like humans. Hiccups in horses are caused by spasms of the diaphragm muscle. However, unlike humans, horse hiccups are less noticeable and generally not a cause for concern. They usually resolve on their own without any intervention.


In conclusion, the question of whether horses can get hiccups remains unanswered. While hiccups are commonly observed in humans, there is limited scientific evidence to suggest that horses experience this phenomenon. Despite their similarities to humans, horses have distinct physiological differences that may influence their susceptibility to hiccups. Further research is required to definitively determine whether horses can get hiccups and understand the underlying causes. However, if you notice any unusual behaviors or symptoms in your horse, it is always recommended to consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.