Although it’s uncommon among canines, coughing up hairball can sometimes be a problem for dogs with medium to long fur. It is mostly attributed to self-grooming, however, there other reasons for the dogs to ingest its own hair.
Unlike dogs, felines or cats have a major problem of vomiting hairballs frequently as they are more susceptible to self-grooming and cleanliness causing ingestion of huge amount of hair.
What is hairball?
Known as tricholith or trichobezoar, hairball is the accumulated animal hair or fur that surrounds a non-digestible item generally stuck inside the stomach of the animal. It is generally accumulated when the hair doesn’t pass through feces and is stuck in the intestine.
The hairball is generally shaped rounded, tubular or spherical, depending on amount ingested. It can be wet and soggy mass or a dry one too.
Why do dogs cough up hairballs?
Typically, a dog who inadvertently swallows his own hair or fur in the process of self-grooming will pass any stray hairs in his feces. As they don’t often groom themselves like cats, ingestion of hair is least common among most dogs.
Hairball formation has a kind of snowball effect; once a hairball begins to form, the more hair a dog ingests, the larger it becomes. Once a hairball is large enough, physical discomfort may compel them to vomit it out.
Self-grooming is the major cause of hair ingestion. The licking of own fur can sometimes lead to ingestion of hair and causes to accumulate inside the bowel.
Fur shedding can be other major reason for hair ingestion. There is fur shedding season for dogs which can cause them to ingest more hair than often.
Wound, Tick-bite or Allergy
Sometimes, wound or tick-bite can cause dogs to lick their hair more often. This can lead to ingestion of more amount of hair which isn’t easily passable through the bowel.
Some dogs with prey instincts tend to eat up the whole animal with feather and furs. Since hair is indigestible, it will remain inside their stomach and accumulate over the time.
How to prevent it?
There are many ways to prevent dogs from swallowing their own hair. First, let’s look at the symptoms of hairball problems.
- Repeated attempts to cough or vomit
- Dry heaving
- Loss of appetite
- A bloated stomach, in more serious cases
The possible prevention methods for hairball ingestion are;
Go to Vet
See you veterinarian to assess if your pet has any skin allergy or parasitic infestation. If it isn’t skin allergy or parasitic infestation, the vet may refer laxative or dietary changes.
A well-hydrated dog experiences efficient bowel movements.
Grooming is essential to keep pet skin cleaner. It prevents excessive licking of fur which may cause hair fall.
Dogs which are more preoccupied with boredom may start chewing or licking themselves simply to pass the time. This may cause hair ingestion, hence, you need to keep your dog occupied with enough fun time.
Learn more about pet care and grooming.