Reducing Hairballs in Pets

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Hairball is a collection of hair that accumulated in the stomach of animals, typically pets. When the hairball becomes too large, it is expelled via vomiting. Cats, in particular, are prone to hairballs because they groom themselves constantly. Do note that a hairball that grew very large inside an animal’s stomach is life threatening. Removing a large mass of hair will require surgery.

Causes of Hairballs

Because the stomach cannot break down hair as efficiently, the strands of fur become impacted, turning to a hairball. Although perfectly natural, hairballs can cause a wide range of diseases in pets. Excessive ingestion of fur could be an indication of the following:

Chronic Diseases

An inflamed digestive tract may lead to the constant expelling of hairballs. Parasites, cancer, foreign objects and other serious diseases could also cause hairball in pets.

Skin Condition

Certain types of skin condition could also cause the animal to shed excessively, leading to hairballs. Pets suffering from psychogenic alopecia are also prone to hairballs. Psychogenic alopecia is a type of compulsive behavior in cats that leads to excessive grooming. Parasites, fleas, allergic reactions or infections could also cause excessive shedding and abnormal quantities of ingested hair.


Cats need more water to keep their organs healthy. But cats on dry food require even more water to stay healthy. If the animal is dehydrated, the digestive tract is unable to break down food properly. This leads to more hairball.

Poor Health

Does your cat vomit frequently and looks ill? Does it stop eating or it starts losing weight rapidly? If the answer is yes, then it is time to take your pet to the vet for a checkup. Feeling ill or rapid weight loss are sometimes indicative of a large hairball.

Treating Hairball

Over the Counter Lubricants

Petroleum-based lubricants help ease hairball by helping the mass move through the cat’s digestive tract to be expelled as waste. However, administering lubricants (such as mineral oil) is hard because most cats do not like it.

You can also use petroleum-free lubricants or jelly to reduce hairball. Get a natural lubricant made with papaya, marshmallow or slippery elm. Dab a small amount of the jelly on your pet’s nose. Let the pet lick the jelly and swallow it. The natural lubricant will coat the hairball, allowing the mass to pass through the animal’s gastrointestinal tract easily.

Regular Grooming

Grooming your pet regularly is a painless, effortless way to minimize the occurrence of hairballs. This goes especially for cats with very long fur. You want to brush the animal’s coat, at least three times a week.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Beneficial fats, such as omega-3 fatty acid, minimize shedding in pets. Giving your pet his daily dose of omega-3 supplements helps reduce shedding because the oil keeps the fur smooth and shiny. This inevitably leads to less hairball.

High Fiber Diet

Improving your pet’s diet helps minimize the occurrence of hairballs too! Get the pet to stick to a high fiber diet. You can use a special type of cat food to do this. The extra fiber will naturally move partially digested hair through the digestive system. You can also sneak in a dissolved capsule of psyllium seed husk powder into your pet’s food to boost its fiber consumption.