Got hairballs? Friday, April 26th is National Hairball Awareness Day! Click for tips from AMCNY

NEW YORK (AllForAnimalsTV) It seems there’s a day for everything, and our feline family members are not being left out. The last Friday in April is National Hairball Awareness Day.

Yes, that’s a thing, and while it may sound comical, it can actually be pretty serious.

AFA Host & 1010 WINS’ Morning Anchor Susan Richard got the scoop on all things ‘hairball’ from Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, Senior Veterinarian and Director of Pet Health Information at the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center on Manhattan’s east side. Take a listen here:

Hairballs are just that. Clumps formed by fur that make their way into a cat’s digestive system when they groom themselves. If they don’t poop it out, they usually barf it up. But it can also be a marker that your pet is sick.

Excessive grooming and/or vomiting can be signs of something more serious, Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, of the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center told 1010 WINS. For example, if your cat is over-grooming because it’s hyperthyroid, or maybe a hairball has gotten jammed in the intestine, and it has to be removed surgically.

“The first thing to do”, says Dr. Hohenhaus, “is brush brush brush that cat. Be sure that they’re getting hairball preventing food and treats. If you’ve done those things and the pet is still yacking up hairballs, then it’s time to go to the veterinarian.” Other signs that a vet visit are in order, include hairballs in conjunction with diarrhea and/or weight loss.

Dr. Hohenhaus says signs of an obstruction, either from a hairball or something else, include decreased fecal output as well as a lot of vomiting, including immediately after eating. If an animal doesn’t want to eat, that’s another red flag, including if decrease appetite is accompanied by continued vomiting. Such symptoms require x-rays to check for a blockage (see photo below).

X-Ray of a dog with an intestinal hairball obstruction.

X-Ray of a dog with an intestinal hairball obstruction.  Photo credit AMCNY

Can dogs get hairballs? Yes, says Dr. Hohenhaus, who recommends shorter haircuts for long-haired dogs and cats who are experiencing hairball issues.

For more on how to handle hairballs, check out Dr. Hohenhaus’ blog HERE.