Exclusively Setters

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Before I consult the vet (the internet seems inconclusive) I thought I better ask the oracle that is ES: What to do about hairballs? Errol is once again struggling to bring up one of his enormous hairballs (the last one must have measured 4-5inches). This has been going on for 2 days now. Lots of coughing, retching and spluttering, lots of saliva and drool but no ball. Is there anything I can do to make life easier for him either by shifting the thing out the front or backside? 

Btw. Errol gets the balls because he grooms himself regularly to get rid of all the seeds and burrs in his feathers. I brush him 1-2 a week and remove any larger debris daily by hand. 

Any suggestions greatly appreciated. Surely he's not the only Setter who suffers this problem....

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ive not heard of this also.are you sure its not kennel cough .symptoms sound very much like layla was when she had this.

i would personally have him vet checked

Regardless of how much you groom your dog, all dogs swallow hair. My dogs often do what I call, joined up poo's, they look like a string of sausages and they are held together with hair. For my dogs it's not an issue because the hair has got through to the rear exit without any problem.

Many years ago I had a puppy who was not a good eater and tried lots of feeding regiems to get her to eat, one of these was a tinned food which she really liked, it was chunks of meat with vegetables in gravy, the vegatables were diced carrot, peas and green beans. Some time after eating this food she would vomit a desert spoon size heap of diced carrot, nothing else. What I learned from this is that she could not digest carrot and her digestive system would not let it carry on forward with all the other ingredience of the can of food. From that time I eliminated carrot from her diet, but if at any time in her life she did eat carrot the same thing happened.

I think this senario is what is happening with Errol and hair. Hair is not digestable and he is keeping it in his stomach rather than letting it progress with all the rest of his food. Over time it builds up into a ever increasing sized ball and he has to get rid of it. If it has got large as it sound like it has, he will have trouble getting it up, I suggest you give him some liquid parrafin, hopefully it will soak into the hairball and make it slippery and easier to shift. If it has got too large to move out of the stomach it may have to be surgicaly removed, lets hope not.

Long term there are lots of natural products made for cats, who commonly suffer with hairballs, to prevent them from forming and enable the hair to pass through naturally. It might be worth investigating them to give to Errol a couple of times a week as a preventative measure. There are also some to help move existing hairballs. Look at http://www.beaphar.co.uk/ and put hairball in the search, or ring them for advice. For Cats, there are lots of brands of complete food especially for hairballs

Best of luck, Rosie

I prefer to treat the cause rather than the symptoms.

I would groom him daily to remove the debris from his coat or change where you walk him if he is getting hairballs because of having to excessively grooming himself to be rid of the seeds and burrs.

Furballs are not usually a problem with dogs as they are not as fastidious about grooming as cats are.


Yes I have a bitch with this problem. Luckily it does not occur too frequently.

She is slightly incontinent at times, related to her season, and so will lick her genital area a lot, thus ingesting hair. (NB she does have medication to aid this).  She coughs, gulps, splutters and then eats loads of grass which eventually makes her bring up long (3 to 4 inches) impacted fur 'sausages'.

It is quite distressing for us and, of course, her, and she is mightily relieved when its all over for another few months.

Our vet just suggested using Katalax, a cat hairball remedy, or cod liver oil to help it pass the other way.

I'd be interested to know of any other remedies.

Thanks for all your messages and suggestions. Having spent Tuesday night awake with a restless dog, continuously wiping great big puddles of drool and phlegm off the kitchen floor, I took Errol off to the vets on Wednesday (having pleaded my way through to an early morning appointment).

After checking Errol’s abdomen and windpipe for obstructions the vet diagnosed kennel cough, gave the poor fella three injections (which took the wind right out of his sails) and prescribed a 7-day course of antibiotics. Errol is still coughing and suffering from a runny nose but I’m hoping that this will clear up soon. The vet had never heard of hairballs in dogs but I’m glad that I’m not the only one who has had experience with them. Sorry Sue if this is no condolence to you but at least it confirms that I’m not going mad. I should have photographed the “thing” as proof….

As I have never had a dog with kennel cough could someone perhaps advise as to the progress of this illness, please. Errol has the vaccination but is there any point to continuing with it if dogs can get KC anyway?




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