Hairballs are the bane of cat owners but hairballs can also affect dogs. How many of y’all have discovered Fluffy’s “gift” by walking barefoot late at night? That cigar-shaped slick nasty “squish” disgusts pet owners, and though it’s quite common for cats to urk up the occasional hairball–it is NOT normal.
This Friday is National Hairball Awareness Day, and Dr. Jane Brunt of the Catalyst Council offers some good advice. “The cat has developed a digestive tract that, when it is healthy and working correctly, can handle normal amounts of fur without problem. Even long haired cats should not develop more than one or two hairballs a year,” says Dr. Brunt. “There have been a lot of recent scientific studies about vomiting in cats and that it may be an indication of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which can progress to cancer.”
Yikes! Hear more from Dr. Brunt on the subject in this podcast.
Cats groom themselves, of course, by lick-lick-licking and subsequently swallowing some of the fur. This time of year when shedding takes place, there’s more fur to swallow. When it doesn’t make its way out the normal method and end up in the litter box, fur collects inside the cat and causes irritation and sometimes constipation and blockage. The lucky cats get rid of the mass (technically called a bezoar). It’s more than a nasty nuisance, so as Dr. Jane Brunt says, get your cat checked if your kitty’s “urking” more than normal.
This time of year, dogs also “blow coat” and end up shedding great wads of fuzz. Learn more about shedding here. With my black German Shepherd, Magic, we typically have drifts of dark fuzz left in hunks here and there. It must be itchy, too, because Magic does quite a lot more self-grooming through scratching and nibbling. While big dogs don’t typically hark up hairballs, smaller pooches with thick coats–like Pomeranians–can develop hairballs and either vomit them up or become constipated or even blocked.
So what can you do? With either dogs or cats, good grooming strips away the loose fur as it’s shed. That prevents it being swallowed, developing into painful mats, and helps keep your carpet (relatively) fur free. My fav grooming tool for both cats and dogs is the Furminator. Seren loves getting combed with this, and Magical-Dawg with his longer coat can lose half his body mass with one session! (Not really, but it does look like that…)
What are some of your grooming tips to prevent hairballs, mats and other “big hairy deals” in your pets? Do tell!
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