If you thought that cats are the only ones affected by hairballs, you would be wrong. Even though it’s a rare condition in dogs, hairballs can indeed pose a threat on your dog’s health and even life.
While cats are known to lick and groom themselves, dogs are not so concerned about their cleanliness. If something on their skin or fur bothers them, they will scratch it off in most cases. However there are several ways dogs can actually get hairballs.
Dogs with longer fur will shed in spring. Without the help of the owners, they will start grooming themselves and the more fur they have, the bigger the chance they will swallow the fur that sheds and develop a hairball. Another reason could be excessive licking. Dogs are prone to licking themselves in certain situations. If they have fleas or tick bites, dogs will try to relieve the itch by licking their skin. Same happens in case of allergies, which, if not treated, can also cause the dogs to lick the infected areas to alleviate the itch. The third situation in which your dog could start this bad habit is if it’s bored and doesn’t have anything better to do. It’s clear how in all these cases, the dog can easily ingest the fur which becomes stuck in its body and a hairball is created.
If it comes to it, your dog will basically develop a hairball somewhere in its esophagus, stomach or intestines because its digestive system is not so strong to deal with the hair. The hairball will then get stuck there, causing your beloved pet a lot of trouble with eating and digestion and the hair could even pierce the dog’s stomach in more severe cases. If the dog is lucky, he or she will manage to cough it up but otherwise, this hairball will cause other problems.
There are symptoms by which you can discover whether your dog is having a problem with a hairball. These dogs will usually lose their appetite, attempt to cough something up or even vomit, gag, struggle with diarrhea and constipation.
When it comes to dealing with the problem, as with anything else it’s best to prevent it. Keep your dog well-groomed and clean. Brush your pet regularly, especially during the shedding season and make sure to clean the dead hair and put it away somewhere where your dog won’t be able to reach it. Moreover, provide your dog with a healthy diet and lots of water. Essential oils will keep your dog’s fur strong so it would shed less, while water is the crucial factor in healthy and normal digestion. As we already said, allergies can lead to hairball development, so make sure to treat your pet’s allergies, take him to the vet and keep him away from the allergens if you’re familiar with them. And finally, provide your furry friend with lots of activity; spend time with him or her, go to walks and play together. A neglected dog can develop problems that go way beyond hairballs.
If your dog already has the problem, there are several ways of dealing with it but it all depends on the stage of the problem. You can try giving your dog some pumpkin as it has plenty of fiber which is beneficial for digestion. It can help the hairball on its way through the gastrointestinal system. Petroleum jelly has a similar effect, but it smoothens the passage and gets the hairball out more easily through the throat and stomach. In doubt – go to the vet because he will definitely know what to do. You may get some laxatives which you should only use if prescribed by the vet because the dosage will depend on your pet’s age and health condition. In the most severe cases, when the hairball is already too stiff of big to get out of your dog’s body the natural way, a surgery will be necessary.
So, be aware that dogs can get hairballs too and pay close attention. The best treatment is prevention, but if it already comes to it there are several methods of dealing with it successfully.