TOXIC INGREDIENTS IN MOST HAIRBALL REMEDY FORMULAS
This time of year, cats may be shedding their warm-weather coats to grow in their cold-weather coats. The seasonal shedding period leaves more pet hair than usual floating around.
I believe it is most helpful to offer some additional assistance simply by brushing them more often, continuing to vacuum and sweep for pet hair regularly and supplement them with a beneficial remedy that helps them to pass the additional amounts of hair they are ingesting.
I went looking into quality hairball remedies for my own cats to see if any of the products might offer extra support for their seasonal shedding period. I was shocked to find out that many of the commercial hairball remedies contain ingredients toxic to the species which can compromise a cat’s immune system and organ functions over time with regular use.
Before going into the ingredients on the list of things to steer away from, I would like to explain that frequent and recurring hairball and vomiting issues in cats are not normal for them and are often the result of one or multiple underlying causes. With regular coat grooming and a healthy, species-appropriate diet, hairballs should not be an issue for any cat.
Dr. Karen Becker, a holistic veterinarian who shares valuable information about pet care at Mercola Healthy Pets has an excellent video and article regarding pet problems involving regurgitation. The information can be found here on their website. If you do not have access, the video information is located here.
On to the hairball remedies that are on the market:
SentryHC Petromalt and a couple of other major brands have just changed their formula to include corn syrup or corn products. These are absolute no-no’s to give to cats if your goal is to keep them healthy. They can actually make your cats sick.
The use of corn and corn products in cat foods is linked to pancreatitis, diabetes, kidney failure, liver disease, bladder inflammation, bladder and kidney stones, IBD (which also includes chronic vomiting and diarrhea) and dental decay. It has been removed from many cat food brand formulations with only the lowest-end food brands continuing to use it as an ingredient.
Some of the "natural" brands I checked use either petrolatum or hydrogenated/hydrolyzed vegetable oil as one of the main ingredients. Petrolatum, also known as petroleum jelly (which is also a popular marketed brand named Vaseline) is refined crude oil. It contains contaminants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These contaminants are linked to cancer, reproductive/developmental toxicity and endocrine dysfunction, among other things.
Hydrogenated/hydrolyzed oils are highly processed chemical products derived from refined petroleum and gas. (Petrochemicals.) The hydrogenation process of unsaturated fats produces saturated and trans fats. To produce a hydrogenated oil, a component of gasoline; hexane, is part of a chemical solvent that is used along with high heat, pressure, and the addition of a metal catalyst. At the end of the process it is then deodorized, bleached, and a small percentage of the solvent is allowed to remain in the finished oil.
The dangers of trans fat oils are well documented for humans, however the FDA still allows it in the production of foods...in large quantities even. It is present in some hairball remedy formulas in place of petrolatum, but the fact remains even without the labeling, that it is engineered using a petroleum product. There is no nutritional or health benefit to offering these ingredients to your pet. In fact, just the opposite; the body becomes stressed trying to process and purge out the toxins that are in them.
Soybean oil, soy protein and other soy derivatives including lecithin are also ingredients used in some brands of hairball remedies. Cats are particularly susceptible to harm from soy products. Soy contains compounds that may negatively affect cats by interfering with nutrient absorption, normal growth, thyroid function, and hormonal development. Cats also do not have the liver enzymes to deactivate the phytoestrogens in it. The processing of soy foods produces a free glutamic acid; a potent neurotoxin which has been linked to causing brain damage. In recent years, soy-based ingredients have been removed from many cat food brands.
I found methyl cellulose in some brands. Methyl cellulose is a non-digestible, chemical compound derived from cellulose (plant fiber). Industrially, cellulose is obtained from saw dust (wood pulp) and cotton. It is then synthetically produced into methyl cellulose by heating cellulose with caustic solution. These types of solutions are corrosive and destroy living tissue. The result of the process causes the plant fibers to break down and emulsify into a gel used for delivery of the other ingredients in a hairball remedy product.
Other questionable ingredients include mineral oil (a mixture of hydrocarbons also derived from crude oil), and non-specific or unspecified animal digest. Unspecified means it is likely derived from a diseased, disabled, dying or already dead animal in this condition before going to the slaughter-house. It also includes sourcing from miscellaneous roadkill and shelter-euthanized animals, all of which are approved for use in pet products.
If any of the above-mentioned ingredients are on the list of your own store-bought hairball remedy, please consider discarding it. Take care to do extra grooming, and go with natural ingredients that have a benefit to your pets’ health.
I was unable to find a single commercially distributed hairball remedy that I felt was completely safe, natural and healthy for my cats to ingest. What is out on the market is thoughtless and unkind to our beloved companions. It is my hope that hairball remedy formulas will evolve to become truly beneficial.
Herbalogue’s Species-Appropriate Natural Hairball Remedy Recipe for Cats:
This recipe is primarily for hairball control and also works to condition their skin and coat while promoting organ and joint health as well as cognitive function. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals the cats actually use and need to maintain good health.
The exact recipe is:
- 1 Raw egg, yolk only (organic, cage free, brown egg is best to use for avoiding foreign hormones and antibiotics from being passed on to your pet)
- Cod liver oil 30g / ~1 oz. (plain, unflavored, no additives, etc. There is a brand by Nordic Naturals named Pet Cod Liver Oil specifically for cats and dogs.)
Combine the yolk and cod liver oil together until it is evenly mixed.
The dose given to a healthy adult cat should be approximately 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon total product with a meal or afterwards. Depending on the frequency of hairball problems, at the lower end of measurement, it can be given daily (and also find out what the real root of the problem is!) The supplement should be refrigerated, stored out of the light for up to 10 days and offered at room temperature. (Gently shake or turn your product to re-combine before serving if there is any separation.)
For assisting my two girls by using this supplement after more frequent grooming, they would get this once every 7-10 days regularly and twice per week during their seasonal shedding periods.
Wishing good health and happiness to you and your furbabies!