April 28, 2021 Dogs

Hairball Awareness Day 2021: Dogs Get Hairballs Too!

An x-ray of a dog's intestines

Hairball Awareness Day 2021: Dogs Get Hairballs Too!

The last Friday in April has long been designated Hairball Awareness Day. For those of you who have not experienced a cat hairball, they are cigar shaped wads of epilated hair vomited up by your cat and deposited on the bedspread or the rug exactly where you put your feet when you get out of bed in the morning. To celebrate Hairball Awareness Day in 2019, I posed the question, “Do dogs get hairballs?” in a blog. And this year, I can say emphatically yes!

The x-ray above is from a Shih-Tzu dog seen recently at the Animal Medical Center because of a hairball blocking her intestine. You are looking at the dog on her side with her head to the left and the x-ray beam centered on the abdomen. The black, tube-like structures are loops of intestines filled with gas. The excessive amount of gas in the intestinal loops is typical for a dog with an intestinal obstruction. The hairball is somewhere in the middle of the abdomen, possibly in the area circled in red. She underwent emergency surgery on her intestine to remove a 3 inch by 1 inch hairball from her small intestine near its terminus into the large intestine. She recovered quickly and uneventfully.

We don’t know why this dog developed a hairball when most dogs don’t. She is a small breed, long haired dog. Long hair probably increases the risk of hairballs, and her small size means the intestinal diameter is smaller than would be found in a large breed dog. It’s also possible that she is a more fastidious groomer than your average dog. Whatever the cause of the hairball, I am sure she is now being groomed much more often by her humans to prevent a second hairball removal surgery.

This dog was vomiting for five days before being brought to AMC’s emergency room where the diagnosis of a hairball obstruction was made. Vomiting is a common problem in both dogs and cats, yet hairballs cause only a small number of serous vomiting episodes. If your pet is vomiting frequently, coupled with weight loss or a decreased appetite, a trip to the veterinarian is in order.

Tags: Dog Hairballs, dogs, hairball awareness day, Hariballs,

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