My Dog Sounds Like He Has A Hairball

icon May 5, 2024

As a dog owner, you may have encountered a situation where your furry companion starts hacking like they’re trying to cough up something stuck in their throat. While hairballs are more commonly associated with cats, dogs can also experience similar symptoms for various reasons. Here, we’ll look into all the possible reasons why your dog sounds like it has a hairball in its throat and what you can do to stop it.

Why Does My Dog Sound Like He Has a Hairball?

If your dog is making sounds that resemble a hairball cough or gagging, it could indicate several possible causes. 

Can Dogs Get Hairballs?

Yes, while hairballs are more commonly associated with cats, dogs can occasionally experience similar issues. When dogs groom themselves, they can ingest loose hair, which may accumulate in their stomach over time. As a result, occasional coughing or gagging sounds may occur as they try to expel the hairball. Regular grooming and brushing can help reduce the amount of loose hair your dog ingests and minimize the occurrence of hairballs.


How Do I Know If My Dog Has a Hairball?

Dogs with hairballs may occasionally vomit or regurgitate, attempting to expel the hairball, especially in a hacking or retching manner, it could be a sign of a hairball. 

Dog Vomiting

Hairballs can cause digestive discomfort, leading to a loss of appetite, reluctance to eat, or gastrointestinal issues like constipation or diarrhea. They also may exhibit signs of lethargy, restlessness, or changes in behavior.

Occasionally, you may notice traces of hair in your dog's vomit or stool. While finding hair alone does not confirm the presence of a hairball, it can be a clue that your dog has been ingesting excessive hair.

However, it's important to note that persistent or severe coughing could also be caused by other conditions such as respiratory infections or collapsing trachea, so consulting a veterinarian is recommended.

How To Get My Dog to Throw Up a Hairball?

For mild cases, the hairball may be able to pass through the digestive system on its own. Unlike cats, dogs have a digestive system that is better equipped to handle ingested hair. Their digestive enzymes and the structure of their gastrointestinal tract are more efficient at breaking down and passing hair through their system. 

dog smiling

It is generally not recommended to intentionally make your dog vomit in order to expel a hairball or any other object. If you suspect your dog has a hairball or any other foreign object lodged in their throat or gastrointestinal tract, it is crucial to seek veterinary advice. Inducing vomiting without professional guidance can be risky, as it may lead to complications or worsen the condition.

Feed the dog something to eat

In this case, medication can be given to help break down the hair stones and facilitate their passage through the intestines. 

If medications don't solve the problem, the next step is to go in and remove the trapped hairballs.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

This surgery involves accessing the dog's gastrointestinal tract and removing hair feces from multiple areas if necessary.

The dog is chewing on something to play

While this could be a hairball problem, it could also be another respiratory problem. Consulting your veterinarian and making a true diagnosis can address the root cause of the hairball problem. Examples include fleas, mites, fungal infections, and excessive licking by the dog to form hairballs. Then deworming is key.
If the problem is due to kennel cough, treating the respiratory condition can also solve the problem.

Related: Kennel Cough in Dogs

               Bronchitis/ Pneumonia in Dogs

What Do Dog Hairballs Look Like?

In dogs, hairballs can resemble clumps of hair mixed with partially digested food or stomach fluids. They may be irregularly shaped and may vary in size. Hairballs can range from small, compact masses to larger, looser collections of hair.

When a dog coughs up a hairball, it may be expelled with some force, causing it to be partially covered in mucus or saliva. This can give the hairball a moist appearance. 

If it is a hairball excreted by defecation, then it may be that the feces is intermingled with some hair, and the dog is having a hard time defecating or is constipated. 

Hairballs look like tight, thin cylinders of compressed fur.

They usually also contain some undigested food that is trapped in the dog's stomach.

Home Remedies for Dog Hairballs

When it comes to addressing hairballs in dogs, it's important to note that there are no specific home remedies that can guarantee their removal. However, you can take certain steps to promote your dog's overall digestive health and reduce the likelihood of hairball formation. 

1. Regular Grooming

Regular brushing and grooming sessions can significantly reduce the amount of loose hair on your dog's coat. This helps to minimize the ingestion of hair during self-grooming and lowers the risk of hairball formation. Use a brush or comb suitable for your dog's coat type and brush them regularly, especially during shedding seasons.

2. Lecithin for Dog

Lecithin itself has the ability to break down and emulsify fats that bind to the hairballs, which is very beneficial to the dog's body.

Puainta®Lecithin supplement for dogs, 300g

3. Increase Hydration

Ensure your dog has access to fresh water at all times. Staying hydrated promotes healthy digestion and can help move ingested hair through the digestive system more effectively. If your dog doesn't drink much water, consider adding wet food or adding water to their kibble to increase their overall moisture intake.

4. Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can support digestive health. Probiotics can help maintain a healthy balance of gut flora and improve digestion.

Puainta™ Probiotic Supplement for Dogs

5. Regular Deworming

Regular deworming will help prevent your dog from itching and licking the hair, which can lead to excess hair being swallowed and accumulating in the stomach to form clumps.



Can Dogs Get Hairballs in Their Stomach?

Yes, dogs can develop hairballs in their stomachs. While hairballs in a dog's stomach can sometimes pass through the digestive system without causing issues, in some cases, they may cause discomfort or lead to more severe problems. If a hairball is too large to pass through the intestines or becomes lodged in the gastrointestinal tract, it can result in gastrointestinal obstruction, which requires immediate veterinary attention.

Can Dogs Get Hairballs in Their Throat?

Unlike cats, dogs have a different anatomy and grooming behavior that makes it less likely for hairballs to get stuck in their throats.

That could be a hairball stuck in the throat from accidentally ingesting too much fur, a condition that could cause your dog to choke. Start by restraining your dog and opening your dog's mouth to see if there is any loose fur inside. If you see something in your dog's mouth or throat, use large tweezers to remove it.

Can a Hairball Kill a Dog?

Yes, if a hairball becomes too large or gets lodged in the gastrointestinal tract, it can potentially lead to life-threatening conditions such as an intestinal blockage or gastrointestinal obstruction. This can result in symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, and even signs of distress. If left untreated, an intestinal blockage can lead to tissue damage, infection, or perforation of the intestines, which can be life-threatening if not addressed promptly.


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