"Of all possessions, a friend is the most precious."

- Heradotus

For dog parents, summertime means long walks and afternoons at the park. It also means high temperatures, hot sidewalks, and a unique set of safety considerations. 

When the weather is hot, dogs’ internal temperature can rise faster than their bodies can dissipate heat. This condition, called heat stroke or hyperthermia, is a medical emergency. 

Sadly, heat stroke is more common than many pet parents realize, and it’s not limited to pets left in hot cars — when temperatures climb, your dog can overheat just by being outdoors. The prognosis for heat stroke is poor, and dogs who survive can experience long-term health issues. 

Learn the warning signs of heat stroke and get prevention tips so you and your canine companion can enjoy sunny days safely. 

What is Heat Stroke?

Essentially, heat stroke is a high fever that occurs when the outside temperature causes your dog’s body temperature to rise.   

dog pants to dissipate heat and avoid heat stroke

Unlike us, dogs aren’t able to dissipate body heat by sweating. Their primary mechanisms for regulating internal temperature are panting and vasodilation. 

Panting works by passing air over the moist surfaces of their nose and tongue so that it cools as they inhale. 

Vasodilation causes blood vessels in the ears and face to expand so that warmer blood can cycle closer to the skin’s surface to cool down. 

When a dog’s body temperature exceeds their normal 101.5℉, these regulatory functions kick in to return it to a safe baseline. On very hot days, however, dogs who don’t have sufficient access to water and shade may be unable to keep their temperature down.

Three and a half degrees Fahrenheit may sound negligible, but for dogs, it’s the danger zone. Body temps of 105℉ can damage organ systems and cause serious neurological complications.

Symptoms of Hyperthermia in Dogs

The early warning signs of heat stroke tend to look a lot like general distress. Overheated dogs will pant and drool excessively and may seem hyperactive or unusually clumsy. 

As heat rises and dehydration worsens, dogs can experience:

  • Dry nose, tongue, and gums
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Muscle spasms
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Loss of motor control
  • Coma

Dogs who don’t get a fast, thorough medical intervention can experience serious long-term complications from a heat stroke episode, including brain damage, arrhythmia, and kidney and liver failure. 

Risk Factors for Heat Stroke

Though heat stroke can affect any dog who doesn’t have sufficient relief from hot weather, some are particularly at risk. Exercise extra caution with:

  • Puppies and senior dogs
  • Brachycephalic breeds like pugs, bulldogs, and Boston Terriers
  • Overweight or out-of-shape dogs
  • Dogs with pre-existing medical conditions like heart disease or hypothyroidism

Never Leave a Dog in a Hot Car

Sadly, one of the biggest contributors to summertime heat stroke is entirely preventable. Many people leave their pets in the car to run errands assuming that the internal temperature of the car will stay similar to the outside temperature. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

A chart warns about temperature inside vehicles to prevent heat stroke in dogsWith no air circulating, a locked car heats up rapidly. Within 10 minutes, the air inside the cab is nearly 20℉ hotter than the ambient temperature. Check out the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Vehicle Interior Air Temperature Estimator, and always bring pets inside with you or leave them at home on warm days. 

What to Do If Your Dog Overheats

If you suspect that hyperthermia is setting in, move your dog to a cool area immediately and offer room temperature water. Never spray or splash your dog with cold water, as lowering their temperature too quickly can cause shock. 

Get your pet to the vet as quickly as possible, even if they seem to normalize once they cool down. Follow-up treatment may be necessary to prevent any long-term health problems resulting from the episode. 

Keep Pets Safe This Summer

When it comes to heat stroke, prevention is the best policy. Avoid long walks and play sessions during the hottest part of the day, and limit exposure, particularly for at-risk dogs. 

Help keep your pet’s natural mechanisms for temperature regulation working by ensuring they’re properly hydrated. Unlike cats, dogs don’t usually have to be coaxed into drinking, but be certain that they have good access to plenty of clean water throughout the day so their bodies are prepared to deal with the heat. 

Although dogs’ normal body temperature is a few degrees hotter than ours, remember that they aren’t as well-equipped to dissipate heat. If you’re feeling hot, your dog is even hotter — give them a cool place to lounge when temps are high. 

You may consider yourself more of a “cat person” or a “dog person” but it turns out that many of us are both. 17% of American households have both dogs and cats, proving that interspecies friendship (or at least tolerance) is completely possible. 

When it’s dinner time in multi-pet households, one of the biggest challenges can be keeping everyone in their own food dish. Dogs who live with cats are likely to be curious about what their feline siblings are eating and may find it hard to resist sneaking a bite. 

If it feels like it requires constant vigilance to keep your dog from woofing down the cat’s dinner, you may wonder if there’s any harm in it — or why you have to buy two kinds of food in the first place. Here’s what pet parents need to know about their cat-food-loving dog.

Nutritional Differences in Dogs and Cats

Anatomically, cats and dogs are pretty different. 

Cats are obligate carnivores who rely on meat for essential nutrients. Their acidic stomachs and short intestines are built to break down proteins efficiently, so they don’t rely on fiber for digestion or carbohydrates for energy (in fact, a high-carb diet is a risk factor for feline diabetes). High-quality cat foods are protein-first to ensure that they provide all of the vitamins and amino acids that cats can’t make on their own. 

Dogs, on the other hand, need to supplement their meat-based diet with carbs and fiber for healthy digestion. Dog food is made to be consumed at a much higher volume than cat food, so it is lower in fat, calories, and protein by weight.

Dog sneaking into cat foodWhy Dogs May Crave Cat Food

Because cat food is protein-first and higher in fat, it’s not unusual for dogs to decide that they prefer the cat’s dinner to their own. In fact, sometimes cat food obsession runs so deep, it may explain why your dog raids the litter box

This behavior is a nuisance, it’s understandable. Our dogs’ wolf ancestors were opportunistic hunters who appreciated an energy-dense meal whenever possible. Your canine family members may find cat food may be exceptionally delicious, but it’s not a good idea to let them indulge. 

The Risks of Feeding Dogs Cat Food

Cats and dogs have very different nutritional needs. Though the occasional bite of cat food isn’t likely to have serious repercussions, repeat offenders can experience health problems.

Upset Stomach

Generalized gastrointestinal distress is the most common short-term consequence for dogs who steal the cat’s dinner. If vomiting, diarrhea, and gas don’t resolve quickly, visit your veterinarian. It’s possible that a more serious issue is to blame. 


The fat that makes cat food so appealing to dogs also makes it dangerous. Digestive enzymes produced in your dog’s pancreas are responsible for breaking down dietary fat. Too much rich food can cause the pancreas to become inflamed. 

Pancreatitis is extremely painful and can lead to death if not treated quickly. Get to the vet right away if your dog is experiencing:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Prolonged vomiting

Vitamin D ToxicityCat and dog sit in a window together

Because cats’ bodies don’t produce the same range of vitamins and amino acids as their canine counterparts, cat food contains a much higher concentration of these nutrients. Dogs who gorge themselves on cat food may accidentally consume a toxic dose of fat-soluble vitamins. 

Acute vitamin D toxicity can be life-threatening for dogs, but harmful levels can also build up over time. Dogs who consistently sneak cat food may be consuming vitamin D faster than their bodies can metabolize it, putting them at risk for kidney failure.  

Canine Obesity

Even if cat food doesn’t cause your dog a medical emergency, regular consumption will cause them to gain weight. Dogs with a poor body condition score (BCS) are at risk for joint problems, diabetes, and an overall lower quality of life. 

Keeping Your Dog Out of the Cat’s Food

If you want to help your dog kick the cat food habit, it’s not reasonable to expect them to rely on willpower. 

Your presence during meal times may be enough to discourage sneaky bites, but even well-behaved dogs probably can’t resist temptation if you’re out of sight. Especially for pet parents who let their cats graze throughout the day, it’s best to create a physical barrier for your dog. Move your cat’s bowl to a higher elevation, or use a pet gate to create a separate feeding area.

Finally, avoid using cat food as a reward. Instead, head to the kitchen for some equally convenient, healthy dog treat options. 


Virtually all cats will throw up at some point in their lives, to the extent that many pet parents become skilled at recognizing the distinctive arched back and pinned ears that immediately precede vomiting (though usually not in time to do anything about it). 

Following an incident, it can be hard for cat owners to determine whether they should seek medical attention or just clean up the mess and carry on. Get to know the most common scary and not-so-scary explanations for vomiting so you can get your cat the help they need. 

Serious Reasons Your Cat May Be Throwing Up

Vomiting may be fairly common, but don’t immediately write it off — it can be a symptom of a more threatening health problem. Pay attention to any unusual symptoms and behavior changes that coincide with vomiting so you can give your vet better context. 

orange cat just vomitedIntestinal Parasites

Especially if your cat is young or recently rescued, parasites may be making them throw up. 

While some varieties of intestinal worms will actually be visible in pets’ vomit or feces, others won’t. Look for other signs that your cat is playing host to a parasite, like:

  • Dull coat
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums (anemia)
  • Potbelly 
  • Diarrhea 

Fortunately, once your vet identifies the parasite, dewormer will get your cat on the road to recovery. 

Swallowed Foreign Objects

Sometimes, vomiting occurs when cats eat things that are not food. These situations can become life-threatening emergencies if the swallowed object damages your cat’s digestive tract or forms an obstruction. 

If your cat can’t successfully eject what they swallowed, they are at serious risk of a perforated or ruptured bowel as pressure builds up behind the object. If your cat seems distressed and their vomit is bloody or unproductive, get to your local emergency vet right away. A quick intervention is your best chance for saving your cat’s life. 

Metabolic Diseases

Vomiting is a common early symptom of endocrine disorders like hyperthyroidism, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), and feline diabetes. Particularly if your cat is over 7 years old, don’t ignore vomiting that is accompanied by:

  • Increased thirst 
  • Concentrated urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Anemia
  • Muscle weakness


The primary biological purpose of vomiting is to help us rid our bodies of anything harmful. Take a look around your home and notice whether your cat may have ingested cleaning chemicals or nibbled on toxic foods or houseplants.

If you suspect poisoning and your cat is displaying neurological symptoms (like poor balance or coordination), get to the vet right away. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease isn’t just for humans — some cats struggle with chronically irritated intestines. Lower GI irritation typically leads to diarrhea, but inflammation in the upper GI tract can make your cat throw up food before it can be digested.

 If vomiting has turned into a more frequent problem, your cat may need your help to get proper nutrition and maintain a healthy weight. Your vet can recommend a combination of dietary changes and medication to help your cat thrive. 

Less Serious Reasons Your Cat May Be Throwing Up

two indoor cats occasionally vomit

If vomiting is infrequent and your cat resumes normal activities, like eating and drinking, there is a good chance that the explanation is more mundane.

Occasional, unproblematic vomiting can often be addressed by changing up your cat’s routine. 

Eating Too Fast

One of the most common non-medical reasons for vomiting is frantic eating. Cats who inhale their food are likely to lose it, so help your feline friend slow down. 

If the issue is due to competition with other household pets, feeding your cat separately may allow them to relax and take their time. If scarfing down food is just part of their personality, however, puzzle bowls and lick mats are great ways to throttle fast eaters.


Trips outside of your home, schedule changes, and the addition of new pets can all trigger anxious vomiting. 

Anything that upsets your cat’s routine may also upset their stomach. Do your best to provide normalcy when change is inevitable, and nervous vomiting should resolve as your cat adjusts. 


If vomiting produces a distinctive tube-shaped clump of matted hair, the mystery is solved. 

The occasional hairball is nothing to worry about, but if they’ve become excessive, simple dietary and behavioral changes can reduce the frequency of hairballs

When to Take a Vomiting Cat to the Vet

Take vomiting seriously when:

  • It doesn’t resolve quickly
  • It becomes more frequent over time
  • It’s accompanied by other physical or behavioral symptoms
  • Your cat appears to be in distress

If you have any doubts as to why your cat is throwing up, err on the side of caution and visit your veterinarian. Addressing the root cause of vomiting is the first step toward helping your feline friend feel better. 

If you’ve ever experienced a urinary tract infection (UTI), you’re all too familiar with the discomfort, burning, and urgency they can cause. While UTI-prone humans are usually able to recognize this unpleasant ordeal by its symptoms and seek treatment, our cats need our help. 

If you’ve noticed unusual litter box activity or other signs of distress, it’s possible that your feline friend may be experiencing a urinary tract infection. Here’s how to recognize a UTI so you can get your cat on the road to recovery. 

Blue eyed cat experiencing a urinary tract infectionUTI Symptoms in Cats

Cats tend to be stoic when they are in pain. Often the most tell-tale signs of a feline urinary tract infection are sudden changes in toileting habits. Keep an eye out for:

  • Frequent trips to the litter box that don’t produce much urine
  • Straining, yowling, or crying while urinating
  • Dark or bloody urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Urine outside of the litter box
  • Obsessive licking or grooming near the urethra 

While uncomplicated UTIs can resolve quickly with a course of antibiotics, untreated infections can lead to kidney failure, bladder ruptures, and even death. 

What Causes a Feline UTI?

Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enter your cat’s urethra and begin to reproduce in the bladder. When your cat’s body mounts an immune system response to fight the infection, the tissues of the urinary tract become swollen and inflamed. 

The most common culprit is E. coli, a bacterium present in cats’ feces. For this reason, cats living in unsanitary conditions and cats who can’t properly groom themselves due to age, injury, or obesity are more likely to experience a UTI. 

Another key risk factor is chronic dehydration. When cats don’t drink enough water, they can produce very concentrated urine that is an ideal breeding environment for bacteria. Adding wet food to their diet or upgrading their water dish can encourage your feline friend to stay hydrated.

Other Urinary Tract Problems in Cats

Urinary tract infections are just one kind of urinary illness cats may experience. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is a catch-all term that encompasses UTIs and other causes of urinary discomfort. 

While pet parents may be quick to attribute frequent urination and signs of pain to a UTI, these symptoms can be similar to those of other common urological issues. 

Urinary StonesTabby cat with feline UTI

Cats’ urine naturally contains salts and minerals. Occasionally, these minerals can crystalize into hard formations called urinary stones. Urinary stones can have sharp edges that irritate the walls of the bladder, causing bloody urine, pain, and difficulty urinating. 

Small stones can sometimes pass on their own, but more often, they have to be cleared with a catheter or surgically removed.

Urethral Obstruction

Unfortunately, it’s easy to mistake a urethral obstruction — a life-threatening emergency — for a UTI.

If the urethral opening becomes blocked by urinary stones, mineral buildup, or an overgrowth of tissue, a ruptured bladder is inevitable. If your cat stops passing urine, get to the vet right away. A fast surgical intervention is your pet’s best chance of survival. 

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

Sometimes, cats can experience urinary tract inflammation without the presence of an infection, blockage, or bladder stones. 

Scientists don’t know exactly what causes idiopathic cystitis, but most suspect that it is related to stress. If your vet has ruled out all other explanations for FLUTD, changes in diet, routine, or your litter box arrangement can help ease your cat’s urinary issues.  

Feline Diabetes or Thyroid Illness

While feline diabetes and hyperthyroidism are not urinary tract diseases, they do feature frequent urination as a common early symptom. 

If incontinence or excessive trips to the litter box are accompanied by changes in thirst, appetite, or weight, it’s a good idea to have your cat screened for these conditions. Early detection and careful management can keep your cat’s quality of life at its best. 

Can I Treat My Cat’s UTI at Home?

Before you reach for the cranberry pills or apple cider vinegar supplements, visit your vet. Because the symptoms of several common urinary tract diseases can look very similar, it’s important to be certain of what you’re treating. 

A urinalysis can confirm the presence of a UTI, and, depending on its severity, your vet may prescribe antibiotics. Because unresolved UTIs can cause kidney failure and other serious complications, it’s best to act fast and get your cat some relief. 

It’s a battle familiar to many people who share their home with both cats and dogs. Despite being generally well-mannered (and certainly well-fed), many dogs can’t resist the urge to snack on cat poop. 

Aside from being disgusting, this puzzling canine behavior can have health consequences. If you want to discourage your dog from nosing through the litter box, you’ll have to find a solution that takes all of your pets’ individual needs and preferences into account. 

Why Can’t I Keep My Dog Out of the Litter Box?

Though we’re thoroughly revolted by the possibility of getting kisses from a pet who just ate cat poop, it’s actually well within the realm of normal dog behavior. 

dog who has been trained not to eat cat poop sniffs kittenWe tend to think of dogs’ wolf ancestors as hunters, but they are also adept scavengers. Cat food typically has more fat than dog food, and cats’ short intestines mean that their poop is more nutrient-dense than other animals’. Unfortunately, this makes it an attractive snack for opportunistic pets. 

Can Eating Cat Poop Make Dogs Sick?

While eating cat poop isn’t inherently harmful, feces can be a vector for bacteria and intestinal parasites. Additionally, if your cat is on medications that could harm your dog, it’s possible that eating their stool will cause health problems. 

Another worrisome possibility is that, if your dog ingests a large amount of litter (particularly clumping or silicone formulas), an intestinal blockage is possible. Seek a veterinarian’s attention if you notice:

  • Bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in thirst or appetite. 

Though rare, there is a chance that your dog could transmit illnesses like salmonella and toxoplasmosis to human family members, so putting an end to litter box burglary is important, especially if anyone in your home is pregnant or immunocompromised. 

How to Keep Your Dog Out of the Litter Box

Ready to come up with a plan to keep your canine companion out of the cat box? Explore your options and choose the best solution for you and your pets. 

Create a Barrier

One way to deter a litter box-obsessed dog is to block their access. Depending on the layout of your home, consider adding a pet gate. Older or arthritic cats may have difficulty going over a barrier, so you may have more success installing it a few inches off the floor so they have the option to go under it instead.  

Partitioning off the litter box can give your cat some sanctuary and remove your dog’s opportunity to sneak poop altogether. 

Relocate the Litter Boxmultipet household keeps dog out of litter box

If gating isn’t a workable option, some families find that moving the litter box to a higher surface works best. 

Regardless, your cat will have final say in whether the solution is acceptable. Cats can have strong bathroom preferences, so if the change makes the litter box less accessible (or even just less appealing) they are likely to reject it altogether and use the bathroom in other areas of your home. 

Add a Lid

Switching to a box with a lid may help deter litter box raids. This simple solution can work like a charm in some households, and not at all in others. 

Just like cats can be particular about the location of their bathroom, sometimes changes to the box itself can upset their routine. Moreover, very persistent dogs may discover a workaround for the lid in short order. 

Keep it Clean

Unless you invest in an automated litter box, it isn’t always possible to immediately remove anything your cat leaves behind. That said, scooping the box thoroughly and often is a great way to help your dog make better choices. A good enzymatic cleaner can discourage your dog from following his nose to the litter box. 

Use Positive Reinforcement

In addition to simple deterrence, it’s also important to take time to train your dog to ignore the cat box. 

Pair a simple command, like “leave it!” with a favorite treat, and be consistent. With time and patience, your dog will learn to respond even when faced with temptation. 


Finding a bald patch on your canine companion can be alarming, let alone several bald patches. 

Shedding is a normal part of life with a dog, but sudden, unusual hair loss is not. Patchy hair loss can be a symptom of several conditions, so it’s important to correctly identify the underlying cause before you start exploring treatments. 

Here’s what you need to know about the most common causes of canine bald spots.

bald spots on poodle mixParasitic Infections

When we think of parasites, we often think about intestinal worms, but parasites can also infest pets’ skin. 

These creatures survive by spreading from host to host, so parasite-related hair loss in your dog can often be a sign that the other pets and humans in your household have been exposed. 

Even the best-groomed dogs can pick up parasites from dog park encounters, so high-tail it to your vet if you notice hair loss that is accompanied by irritation, lesions, or thickened skin.

Mange Mites

Mange is a condition caused by parasitic mites that burrow and lay eggs in the skin. There are two types of mange: demodectic and sarcoptic. Demodex mange primarily affects immunocompromised dogs and doesn’t readily spread to other species. The mites that cause sarcoptic mange, however, can infest humans in the form of scabies.  

Mange is characterized by painful symptoms:

  • Extreme itchiness
  • Red, irritated skin
  • Yellow crusts
  • Bacterial infections
  • Thick, darkened skin
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Mild mange can worsen quickly, so don’t lose time seeking treatment. 


Contagious and itchy, ringworm is marked by distinctively circular bald patches with raised lesions. Despite its name, ringworm isn’t caused by worms at all — it’s fungal. 

The fungus that causes ringworm passes easily when dogs have skin contact with infected animals or use contaminated brushes, bowls, or bedding. Though it’s treatable, this uncomfortable skin condition can affect both pets and humans, especially small children and people with depressed immune systems.


Fleas are one of the most common canine allergens. Whether your dog is truly allergic to flea bites or merely sensitive, a flea infestation can trigger obsessive scratching, licking, and chewing that is highly irritating to skin.

If red, hairless patches emerge in areas that your dog can reach with their mouth or hind leg, flea-related dermatitis could be to blame. Get your pet treatment that will soothe their skin right away, because continued scratching and chewing can lead to serious skin infections.

Allergic Dermatitis

Corgi with itchy skin and patchy hair loss

Surprisingly, food allergies and sensitivities are more likely to impact your dog’s skin than their stomach. 

Allergies can develop at any point, meaning that a protein source your dog has enjoyed their whole life may suddenly cause itchy skin, hives, or hair loss. If you suspect that your pet has developed a food allergy, ask your vet about planning an elimination diet to pinpoint the root cause. 

Cushing’s Disease and Hair Loss

As dogs age, changes to their endocrine system can affect the health of their coats. 

Cushing’s disease, or an overproduction of the hormone cortisol, is most often caused by a benign tumor pressing on the adrenal or pituitary gland. Cushing’s disease is most common in dogs over age six, and is usually characterized by:

  • Hair loss
  • Thin skin
  • Pot-bellied appearance
  • Increased thirst and appetite
  • Lethargy

Depending on the size and location of the tumor, Cushing’s disease can be addressed by surgery or managed through medication. 

Yeast Infections

Dogs with long, floppy ears or skin folds require special attention at the groomers. Moisture and oils can collect in crevices or between dogs’ toes, leading to an overgrowth of yeast. 

The first sign of yeast dermatitis is usually an unpleasant, musty smell, but if left unchecked, the irritation will lead to hair loss. Your vet can prescribe antifungal medications and ointments to keep yeast in check.

Stress-Related Bald Patches in Dogs

If you’ve ruled out medical explanations for hair loss, it’s possible that the explanation may be behavioral. 

Just like humans can respond to stress by biting our nails or picking at our skin, boredom and anxiety can cause dogs to chew or bite their fur to the point of hair loss. 

Ensure that your dog is getting plenty of attention, exercise, and stimulation. Ease separation anxiety by providing your pet with interactive toys and treats to keep them engaged in your absence. If issues persist, talk to your vet about options for managing your dog’s anxiety through medication. 


Cat owners know that otherworldly retching sound all too well. Most felines will experience a buildup of fur in their stomachs from time to time, and when it doesn’t pass through their intestines, it has to come up (usually on your favorite rug). 

Hairballs are common, but they aren’t necessarily a normal part of life with cats. Proactive pet parents can take steps to drastically reduce uncomfortable hairballs — and save their carpet in the process. 

hairball reduction tips for indoor tabby catWhat Are Hairballs, Anyway?

Despite their name, extruded hairballs are almost always long and tube-shaped. 

When cats groom themselves, they inevitably swallow a bit of their own fur. Cat hair contains an indigestible protein called keratin that prevents stomach acid from breaking it down alongside their food. Most of this hair passes on its own in cats’ feces, but occasionally bits of hair will linger in the stomach and form a clump. 

To get some relief, cats need to eject the hairball. While this process is commonly referred to as “hacking” because of the sound that accompanies it, cats vomit hairballs rather than cough them up. Air escaping around the wet clump of hair as it’s extruded from the esophagus produces that horrendous, unmistakable sound.

In its final form, a hairball is made up of fur, stomach secretions, and bits of undigested food that may have gotten caught up in the process.

Cat Breeds Prone to Hairballs

No cat is immune to hairballs (even hairless breeds like sphynx can get them as a result of grooming other cats or their humans). However, long-haired breeds are understandably at higher risk. Be particularly vigilant about hairballs if your feline friend is a:

  • Ragdoll
  • Maine Coon
  • Persian
  • Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Siberian
  • Domestic Long-Hair

When to Worry About Hairballs

The occasional hairballs (one every week or two) may be a nuisance, but it’s probably not cause for concern. 

If you’re noticing an uptick in production, however, reach out to your vet. Excessive hairballs can be the result of over-grooming, which could be the result of skin issues caused by environmental allergies, food sensitivities, or stress. 

Hacking and wheezing that doesn’t produce a hairball can be a symptom of feline asthma or an indication that the hairball has grown into a dangerous, impassable blockage. Both conditions require immediate medical attention. 

How to Reduce Your Cat’s Hairball Hacking

If you want to experience fewer wads of wet hair, here are some practical tips for hairball reduction.

1. Groom Your Cat

prevent hairballs in grey cat

Regular brushing not only helps curb shedding — it also reduces the amount of hair cats ingest while licking themselves.

Grooming assistance becomes even more important as cats age. Senior cats may lose the flexibility to clean hard-to-reach areas, and slower digestion can make it easier for large hairballs to form. 

2. Watch Out for Chewing

Chewing is not an exclusively “dog” behavior. If your cat is prone to nibbling on things that aren’t food, make sure you remove anything they could accidentally swallow from their environment. 

Hairballs form easily around foreign objects in the stomach, and they can easily turn into dangerous obstructions. Keep bits of string, rubber bands, and twist ties stowed safely out of reach. 

3. Make Sure Your Cat is Drinking Plenty of Water

Proper hydration can naturally inhibit the occurrence of hairballs in two ways. First, it promotes smooth digestion. Second, it reduces hair fall, limiting the amount of hair that ends up in your cat’s stomach in the first place.

If your cat is a fussy drinker, changing their water dish or adding more wet food to their diet can help close hydration gaps.

4. Consider Dietary Changes

There are a number of supplements and cat food formulas that can help arrest hairballs. If your cat’s hacking has become excessive and your vet has ruled out more serious underlying conditions, they can help you choose a dietary regime that supports a healthy coat and good digestion. 

Your vet may also recommend changes to your feeding schedule. Opting for multiple small meals throughout the day can encourage any hair your cat swallows to pass through their digestive system without forming a clump. 


Gas happens, even to our pets. Dogs break wind an average of 5-20 times per day while cats average 1-2 toots  — extremely modest compared to the human average of 12-25 daily incidents

Thanks to their more horizontal GI systems and differently configured sphincter muscles, pet flatulence is usually silent (but deadly). If you’ve found yourself asking what’s that smell? a bit too often lately, it may be time to take action. If you want to clear the air, start by identifying and addressing the root cause of your pet’s gas. 

gassy cat with a surprised facial expressionWhen to Worry About Your Pet’s Gas

Gas is a nuisance, but it’s occasionally an indicator of a more serious problem. Don’t ignore a sudden uptick in flatulence that is accompanied by:

These symptoms can point to conditions like stomach ulcers, GI obstructions, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), all of which require a vet’s care. Concerned pet parents should schedule an exam to investigate the underlying cause of worrisome gas. 

Once you’ve confirmed that your pet’s gas is just hot air, small changes to their routine can bring on big improvements. 

1. Secure Trash and Table Scraps

If your dog has gotten into the garbage or helped himself to the pizza you left on the counter, expect some bad gas. 

Human food contains sugars and proteins that aren’t a normal part of pets’ diets. When they chow down on something they lack the enzymes to properly digest, that food languishes in their GI tract. As their gut bacteria work to break down the problematic food, they produce an excess of foul-smelling gas in the process. 

Gas prevention begins with investing in a secure trash can lid and storing leftovers safely out of your pets’ reach. 

2. Ditch the Dairy

Despite the common mental association of cats with saucers of milk, most cats (and many dogs) are lactose intolerant. When pets grow to adulthood, they produce less of the enzyme that they require to digest their mothers’ milk — for many adult cats, it disappears completely. Gassy schnauzer dog stands in front of toilet

If you want to improve the air quality of your household, try removing milk and cheese from your pet’s diet. They may also experience the added benefit of more comfortable digestion. 

3. Avoid Cruciferous Veggies

Vegetables make great low-calorie treats, but some are more likely than others to produce noxious gas. Members of the cruciferous family (think broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower) are high in sulfur and fiber. While they can be great for promoting healthy poops, they are also slow to move through dogs’ digestive systems, leading to a buildup of that distinctive rotten egg scented flatulence. 

Switch to more digestible veggies or give them a quick steam to help reduce gas. 

4. Help Your Pet Slow Down

Sometimes trapped gas originates in your pet’s mouth. Dogs and cats who scarf down their food too quickly can swallow a lot of air. These air pockets cause discomfort as they make their way through the digestive tract and escape as gas.

If you have a frantic eater, consider breaking up meals into smaller snacks throughout the day. Puzzle bowls and mats are great ways to encourage pets to eat more slowly while providing helpful mental stimulation. 

5. Identify Food Sensitivities

While true food allergies are quite rare, cats and dogs may experience food sensitivities that lead to digestive distress and excessive gas. 

If you suspect your pet’s food is disagreeing with them, an elimination diet is the only way to definitively pinpoint problematic ingredients. Once you have isolated the source of your pet’s issue, swapping their current diet out of a different protein source like salmon, duck, or lamb can bring about relief.