Hairballs aren't limited to cats. Dogs can develop hair accumulation during grooming when they are shedding. If your dog sheds a lot and ingests too much of that hair, a hard mass of hair can develop in the stomach or intestines. Called a bezoar, the mass can grow to a size that causes intestinal blockage and prevents passage, creating an uncomfortable situation for your pooch. If your dog is coughing up hair, contact your veterinarian who can guide you to a treatment to ease your pooch's pain.
While shedding and grooming, your dog can accumulate hair in her mouth. When she swallows it, if it gets caught up in the stomach and intestines and cannot pass through the feces, she may experience an upset tummy. She may cough to try to expel it orally, leaving behind the remains on your carpet. Brushing her daily when she is shedding can help alleviate her hairballs.
If your pooch develops a hairball, it's likely to gather fats from her food. An addition of a fat emulsifier, such as soy lecithin, can dissolve the fats that accumulate around the hairball so she can eliminate it. Soy lecithin is available in all pharmacies in the nutritional supplements section, but consult your vet for the proper amount to give your dog.
Extra fiber works in dogs as it does in humans to help the bowels move. Additional fiber can dissolve the hairball or help eliminate it more quickly. Canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling, or human fiber supplements can help hairball elimination. Pumpkin also can alleviate constipation in pets. Consult with your vet on the amount and type of additional fiber that is best for your canine friend.
Digestive Gels, Treats and Lubrication Pastes
Digestive gels and lubrication products added to your dog's food or given as a treat can help her digest smaller hairballs and help them pass through the digestive tract more easily. There are a number of over-the-counter options, most of which are petrolatum-based and come in a variety of yummy flavors for dogs.
Some believe that pets eat grass when they have an upset stomach, which may or may not be true. The texture of the grass can irritate the stomach lining and cause vomiting that might help expel a hairball. If your dog is eating grass, make certain that it does not have fertilizers, or any other chemicals on it, which can cause other adverse reactions. If you see this behavior, be sure to check with your vet to determine the underlying problem.
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