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You already know cats can get hairballs, but can dogs?

Several things can cause dog coughing. As with humans, there is a long list of possible cough culprits, from bacterial and viral infections to seasonal allergies, but also hairballs?!?

My dog sounds like he has a hairball, what do I do?

If you’ve been pondering over this question, then you have come to the right place for guidance and possible next steps.

Do Dogs Get Hairballs?

Do dogs get hairballsHairballs, or more eloquently put Trichobezoars, are a common cause of hacking in felines who are known for cleaning every inch of themselves several times per day.

Hairballs in dogs, however, are pretty uncommon.

Long-haired dogs who have the occasional hairball will usually cough it up without much of a problem, but if your dog has a bit of a hairball issue, a few things are available to make the process easier.

Home Remedies for Dog Hairballs

Home remedies for dog hair balls

  1. Petroleum Jelly
  2. Coconut oil
  3. Pumpkin

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly will help soften the stuck hair, acting as a lubricant to make coughing up the hairball easier.

Add 1/2 tablespoon to food daily until the hairball comes up. If it takes longer than a couple of days to eliminate the hairball, consider other possibilities and consult your vet

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a natural antimicrobial and antibiotic that can also have several benefits for your hacking pet.

Coconut oil should be introduced slowly and given a teaspoon at a time, as needed up to a few times a week.


Pumpkin isn’t just for the fall months; it’s also very beneficial to your dog’s and cat’s digestive systems.

Pumpkin contains a large fibre that has been known to help pull out the hairball through the gastrointestinal tract. It also supports the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, smoothing the process of hairball elimination.

So, the next time you’re at the market, get a can of plain pumpkin. You can also make your own, but you must cook and puree it before giving it to your dog.

The recommended amount of pumpkin for dogs is about a teaspoon per 10 pounds per day.

Health Benefits of Dog Hairball Home Remedies

Petroleum JellyPumpkin Coconut Oil
  • Moisturising
  • Hydrating
  • Good for the eyes
  • Boosts immune health
  • Nutrient-rich
  • Healthy skin and coat
  • Digestive regularity
  • Weight loss aid
  • Naturally controls parasites with amino acid
  • Help to prevent incontinence
  • Dogs like it!
  • Helps skin problems
  • Combats inflammation
  • Aids in elimination of hairballs
  • Aids in constipation
  • Can improve brain health

Dog Hairball Cough

Dog hairball coughIf your dog keeps trying to cough something up, it may sound very similar to the family cat hacking up a hairball. Unfortunately, hacking can be a sign of many things besides hairballs.

A consistent hacking cough can sound like they may have a hairball. However, more likely, they are suffering from one of the following ailments:

  1. Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis
  2. Tracheal collapse
  3. Heart disease

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, also known as “kennel cough,” is a collection of highly contagious and infectious diseases of the respiratory tract.

These diseases can work alone or together in manifesting mild to severe upper respiratory symptoms, the most common being a hacking, gagging, or “honking” cough.

The most common causes of Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis are:

Kennel cough can be transmitted via direct or indirect contact from dog to dog.

Dog’s shed the virus for up to 2 weeks. Quarantine from other pets is recommended and necessary for that time.

Tracheal Collapse

The trachea or windpipe comprises several c-shaped cartilage rings holding space for air to pass freely. A collapsing trachea occurs when those cartilage rings become damaged or worn out and start to fall in on themselves.

Tracheal collapse in dogs causes a cough that can sound like they are coughing up a hairball; however, the lack of airflow causes the coughing.

If a dog suffers from tracheal collapse, it will be evident with only a little pressure to the throat. Smaller dogs weighing 15 pounds or less are prone to tracheal collapse due to congenital or outside causes.

Dog breeds more likely to experience tracheal collapse include:

  • Chihuahua
  • Maltese
  • Shitztu
  • Yorkie
  • Toy poodle

If a collapsed trachea is suspected, x-rays and possible fluoroscopy may be needed.

Treatment for tracheal collapse is often medically managed through the use of:

  • Steroids to decrease inflammation
  • Cough suppressants
  • Bronchodilators (with caution)

If a dog has trouble breathing because of a severe collapsing trachea, a tracheal stent may be an option. However, this surgery is not done casually, and only the most severe cases are considered.

Heart Disease

Congestive heart failure in dogs can sometimes produce a cough that sounds a bit like a hairball. However, the cough that accompanies heart disease is caused by fluid build-up in the lungs rather than a hairy obstruction.

Some signs and symptoms will accompany the dog heart failure sound; they can be found in the table below.

Heart disease in dogs doesn’t usually surface until at least five years old. Dogs with heart disease can live long, happy lives, but prompt treatment and early intervention are best.

DiseaseSigns & Symptoms
Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis
  • Persistent coughing
  • Respiratory symptoms
  • “Honking” cough
Tracheal Collapse
  • Coughing when pulling on a leash
  • Gentle throat touch causes a cough
  • “Honking” cough
Heart Disease
  • Panting while at rest
  • Coughing when you pick them up around the chest
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Coughing more at night

Dog Hairball Sound

Dog hairball soundOkay, so dogs aren’t known for getting hairballs, but some long-haired serve as the exception to the rule.

A dog with a hairball will retch, hack, and gag while trying to get this matted chunk of fur out of their digestive tract. You may notice your dog breathing fast before a hacking episode.

In addition, dogs may drool or vomit during these hacking episodes.

Dog Hairball Vomit

Dog hairball vomitOften, you may find the latest hairball in a small pile of bile or vomit. If the dog has just eaten, some lunch may have come up along with the hairball.

It’s gross, but it’s nothing to stress over most times.

When should I be worried about my dog’s hairballs?

Most of the time, a dog will cough up the hairball in a pile of mucus for you to step in on your way to the loo in the wee hours of the morning. However, if a dog exhibits signs of gastrointestinal obstruction, veterinary attention is needed as soon as possible.

Signs of gastrointestinal obstruction in dogs include:

  1. Vomiting minus hairball
  2. Constipation
  3. Abdominal pain
  4. Unable to eat or drink

Vomiting minus hairball

A dog that is vomiting but not producing any hairballs may be obstructed or suffer from another illness that needs to be checked out by the veterinarian.


Poop is yucky, but it is an excellent way to keep tabs on your animals’ health. Constipation or straining to go to the bathroom indicates gastrointestinal blockage.

Hairballs can cause this, but many dogs like to eat things like washcloths, socks, and underwear, which can also cause severe intestinal issues.

Abdominal pain

It may be challenging to identify abdominal pain in dogs. That said, there are several possible signs you can look out for, such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Hunched over or guarded posture
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Whimpering
  • Heavy breathing

Unable to eat or drink

A dog that doesn’t want to eat or drink is a dog in pain. Gastrointestinal blockages will cause anorexia and dehydration in dogs. Without immediate care, the results will most likely be fatal.

Whether the inability to eat and drink is because of a blocked intestine or something else, this indicates this animal needs to go to the vet – like, yesterday.