Felines groom themselves all the time, so we're used to seeing them spit out the dead hair they pick up with their tongues. They are not, however, the only creatures who suffer from this ailment. This hairball can also occur in dogs, especially if the breed has long or abundant fur.
They can cause problems, so it's better to avoid them by using proper grooming techniques like the ones you'll learn in this article.
Why do dogs have hairballs?
The hairball in dogs appears for the same reason as in cats: when licking itself, the dog drags the fur that has come off its skin, causing it to end up in its stomach.
In felines, this usually happens during hygiene, while in canines it happens more when they have parasites or a dermatological problem. They bite and moisten their epidermis to soothe it, and they bring some of their fur to their mouth, which forms a trichobezoar.
It is not very common that they are formed in their organism, but, if it happens, the dog vomits the hairballs or expels them together with its stool. That is to say, they are not a danger, unless he is unable to get rid of them.
Hairballs can harm your dog's health if he can't get rid of them.
Trichobezoars can grow to be too large for your dog to eliminate on his own, causing them to become stuck in his intestine. This mess of food, mucus, and dead hair will become larger and harder, eventually causing serious health problems.
Problems caused by hairballs in dogs
A "ball" lodged in the stomach is not a comfortable thing. But it is the least damage that can be done to dogs.
The hairball, if it completely obstructs their intestines, ends up infecting them and causing death. Even if it is only partial, its presence in the body causes it to gradually release harmful toxins into the circulatory system.
Some trichobezoars obstruct the intestine or even rupture the stomach wall.
As the days go by, what was once simple hair becomes a conglomerate capable of tearing the wall of the digestive tract and causing bleeding or a general infection. Shock is another of the ultimate consequences of these "balls", so you must be vigilant to detect them before they become complicated.
Symptoms: How do you know if your dog has a hairball?
The symptoms of a hairball in dogs are common to many other diseases. That is why you should be aware of any change in his behavior and consult your veterinarian immediately if you suspect that your friend is suffering from this problem.
To confirm this, the specialist will perform an examination and probably an X-ray. He will also ask you about the symptoms you have observed, which will be the following in the case of hair accumulation.
Gagging and coughing
As we said before, one way for dogs to expel a hairball is by vomiting. If they have one in their stomach, they are likely to try to get rid of it this way without success.
Vomiting, diarrhea and constipation
Your dog's digestive system will become a cocktail of imbalances. Due to the obstruction, it will not be able to function properly, which will make it difficult to digest food properly.
When we are sick to our stomach, we have no appetite, and so do dogs. If your dog stops eating or starts to lose weight rapidly, it is always a good reason to take him to the vet.
Isolation and inactivity
Does he stop interacting, playing, and even moving around? Then set off the alarm bells! It's his way of telling you he's sick, so it's your turn to pick up the gauntlet!
Hygiene, your ally in your dog's health
One of the dog's care to avoid hairballs is deworming. By ridding it of fleas and avoiding foods or products that cause allergies, it will be less likely to lick itself and, therefore, swallow hair.
The food he eats is also important to prevent this problem. Provide him with an adequate amount of fiber and make sure he is properly hydrated so that any remaining fur flows easily through the intestine.
These are all powerful remedies, but without a doubt, the fundamental one is grooming. Regular brushing will ensure that the hair stays where it belongs: on the comb and not inside your friend.
How is a good brushing performed so that a hairball does not form?
You need to know how to do everything, even how to brush your dog properly. If you want your efforts to have the best results, we recommend that you comb your companion on a daily basis, with extreme zeal at times when the coat changes.
Do this in the opposite direction of hair growth and use a special brush. Regular washing is another way to prevent hairballs in dogs.
Dog hairball treatmentTreatment depends on the location of the trichobezoar. If it is lodged in the stomach and its expulsion through the digestive tract is viable, the treatment is mainly based on the attempt to hydrate and dissolve the hairball, for which we use proteolytic enzymes (Bromelain and Papain), natural pineapple juice (which has a high level of fiber and also hydrates the hairball), laxatives and stimulants of intestinal motility, antibiotherapy, and forced feeding.
In the case of being at intestinal level and causing obstruction, the solution to the problem necessarily involves surgery (gastrotomy). Most dogs recover quickly, with most being able to eat the day after the operation.
In conclusion, it is important to be attentive to the signs that your dog may present, indicating an excess of hairballs. Always consult your trusted veterinarian, especially if you notice any of the warning signs, and feed them a balanced diet appropriate for their needs and age.