One of the most common problems for cats and dogs are hairballs. Hairballs happen when your cute fuzzy furball grooms itself, and swallows the excess hair. Most of the hair is usually vomited on top your expensive couch or new carpet. The rest eventually reaches the intestines and wads up into a clump and causes an obstruction which could end up being life threatening.
Have you ever stepped on one barefoot? Ewwwwww, real squishy huh! You may have noticed that hairballs do not tend to be in the shape of a ball. They tend to be more of an elongated shape and sometimes you may mistake them for being a poop on the floor.
Hairballs are formed while grooming themselves. Have you ever seen a cat trying to shake a piece of hair from their mouths? Very hard to do because of the roughness of their tongues causing them to have to swallow it. If you see a cat doing this and you can see the hair hanging out of its mouth, go help it out.
The hair will travel through the intestinal system and most likely be pooped out later. If your furball swallows too much hair then it will get all bound up in its stomach and you will see the animal go through the agonizing motions of hacking up this hairball.
Worse case scenario is that your pet can not vomit or poop out this hairball. Chances are the hairball has become stuck in the intestines. This could be a partial or total blockage. Blockage signs include constant attempts at trying to vomit something up or signs of constipation, thus causing loss of appetite. Older cats may have a greater problem trying to expel the hair as their digestive system and bowels weaken with age.
If you suspect any kind of blockage, immediately seek medical help or your furball could die!
The most obvious thing you can do to help out is to make sure you brush your pet everyday. Not very tough and your furball will love you for it. Those with longer and thicker hair should be brushed as often as possible. Of course this also helps out with shedding all over your furniture and clothes.
If consistent brushing does not completely eliminate the problem then you can try increasing your pets fiber intake. Try sprinkling a teaspoon of psyllium fiber or wheat bran on your pets food. Both contain some essential vitamins and minerals. Another solution that works almost as well is to add a tsp of flax seed oil to the diet. This lubricates the excess hair without coating the intestines. This is great for the skin and coat as well as the immune system. These solutions are inexpensive and can be found at your local grocery store.
Their are also pet foods out there that are designed for hairball remedies. Be cautious if you are going to try this route. You may want to read our section on
DO NOT use petroleum based products! Even though they may work to release the hairball, they can cause more harm than good! The petroleum can coat the intestinal wall causing vital nutrients from being absorbed thus causing immunity problems. Disease, viruses and harmful bacteria can set in. These petroleum based products are usually very high in sugar which is not healthy for cats & dogs, and quite expensive.