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National Hairball Awareness Day is observed every year on the last Friday in April. It’s a great time for pet owners to learn more about the dangers of hairballs and how you can prevent them in your pet. But if you thought this holiday was only relevant to cat owners, think again! Dogs can actually get hairballs, too.
Cats get hairballs from grooming themselves. Most cats lick their fur to groom themselves, and this incessant licking often leads to hair being swallowed. Sometimes the hair will form into a ball and the cat will throw it back up. Long-haired cats are especially prone to hairballs.
In dogs, the hairball formation process works the same way — if too much fur is swallowed, it can form into a ball and get stuck in the digestive system.
However, hairballs are less common in dogs because most dogs don’t lick themselves every day like cats do. For the dogs who do occasionally groom themselves, hairball formation can be dangerous: If the hairball is too big to throw up, it might cause a blockage in your dog’s digestive system. In extreme cases, surgery might be needed. Hairballs can also lead to dehydration as they make your dog unable to properly absorb fluids.
Keep an eye on your dog for hairball warning signs (especially during the winter, when your dog’s skin is dry).
Some indications that your dog may have a hairball can include:
An intestinal blockage due to a hairball might present with constipation, diarrhea, and no appetite. You might also notice your dog gagging, but nothing coming up. At that point, talk to your vet about what to do next.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent hairball formation in your pup.
Hairballs are unexpected and can potentially be very dangerous. Here at PetFirst we know unexpected accidents and illnesses can happen to our beloved pets. If you’re interested in pet insurance, you can get a free quote today.