It is a common misconception that only cats get hairballs. The process is pretty much the same for dogs as it is for cats. The most common cause of hairballs in dogs is self-grooming, but other activities can also cause this problem. In this article, we will explore some of the reasons why dogs get hairballs. Let’s begin with a short introduction to hairball in dogs and then go into dog hairball treatments.
What is dog hairball?
When the intestines of a dog accumulate hair follicles, the result is a hairball. Since the gut has a tubular anatomy, dog hairball has a cylindrical and not a circular shape. When a dog ingests hair follicles, they do not always pass through the gut, resulting in hairballs. Little by little, a solid mass of fur forms as follicles accumulate and harden. As a result of this, the intestines may become partially or completely blocked. Naturally, the dog tries to clear its intestines of this mass of hair. In doing so, he regularly produces an irritating retching sound which pet parents call “hairball sound .”At other times, the dog may try to regurgitate it, but with no chance whatsoever. As time grows, the hairball gets bigger and bigger, causing partial, and in some cases complete, blockage of the intestines. Now let’s have a look at the most common causes of hairball in dogs.
Hair loss is almost always associated with dry and irritated skin. An infestation of fleas or ticks, as well as bacterial and fungal infections, can cause skin irritation. As a way to ease the irritation, the dog licks or bites at the skin. Sadly, some of the loose hair is ingested by the dog as a result.
Like cats, but not as often, dogs groom themselves. In doing so, loose fur and other debris find their way to the dog’s intestine, which can turn into hairball in the long run. The breeds with long coats self-groom more frequently. The more frequently a dog self-grooms, the higher the chances of hairball forming in its intestine.
As a sign of affection for their puppies, dogs tend to lick them during the first few months they are born. Depending on their breed, some puppies may grow rather long hair within a month or two. If their mother licks them too often, she will inevitably get hairball.
Eating hairy prey
Some dog breeds seem to never fully forget about their hunting instinct. No matter how much dog food you serve them, they are always on the watch for chickens, pigeons, squirrels, and even rats. Sometimes the hairball formed inside them is from the animals that they’ve hunted in the past.
Believe it or not, dogs get anxious too. Hitting them, keeping them in dark, closed spaces, putting them next to other animals/dogs, and teasing them when they’re eating are some of the circumstances when they get anxious. Apart from barking and growling, they also bite themselves when they are anxious. As this biting comes with some pain, their anxiety level decreases, and hence, they make a habit of it. Each time they bite themselves, they pull off some of their hair which eventually find their way into the dog’s body.
Dog hairball treatment: The most common cures
Your dog may suffer from hairballs for a variety of reasons, so it is important to identify the cause first. If, for example, your dog suffers from skin irritation, then you will need to treat the irritation and treat the hairball at the same time. With that being said, let’s see what treatments you can try to relieve your poor pet dog from his pain.
Including fish or olive oil in his diet
Adding olive oil to the dog’s food is one of the most common dog hairball treatments. This is done to increase the hairball and gut lubrication, making it easier for the hairball to move along the intestine easily. This, of course, works well with dogs with quite small hairballs. In case your dog resents olive oil, you can go for fish oil supplements as they have the same application.
Giving him laxatives
off chance the obstruction is minor, you can give laxatives to your dog so that his stool is softened and the hairball is removed through his intestines. A lubricant supplement may also be given to the dog to aid in the passing of the hairball. To make sure that the obstruction is partial, a vet visit is mandatory.
You may realise the problem too late, and the hairball is too big to be removed naturally. Under such a situation, the only dog hairball treatment you can trust is surgery. The good news is that almost every dog at any age can undergo such surgery. The bad news is that for the first few months after the surgery, you must pay special attention to your dog till he fully recovers. This includes the food you give him as well as the activities you let him try.
Dog hairball is a common problem with many dog breeds that most owners never notice until it’s too late. Explaining the main reasons why hairballs form in dogs, this article explained three common dog hairball treatments that owners might consider if they notice signs of hairball in their dogs. We hope this article helped you take care of your dog better and know how to treat him if he is suffering from a dog hairball. If you found this article informative, we suggest you read our blog on diabetic dog food. Hopefully, it will help you treat your darling companion pretty soon.