Dog Hernia Diagnosis

A dog hernia can affect male or female dogs. There are several different types of hernias and they can be life-threatening. Hernias are correctable but it is important to get them looked at as soon as possible.

Causes of Dog Hernias

A hernia is caused by fat or organ tissue coming through a tear in the abdominal wall. There are two causes of dog hernias: Congenital hernias are present from birth, while other hernias are caused by an injury.

The condition can start as a simple (or unobstructed) hernia but can develop into a strangulated hernia. These are more complicated and can lead to serious health risks. They occur when the abdominal wall cuts off the blood supply to the part of the organ outside the cavity. If left untreated, this kind of hernia can lead to gangrene and necrosis (tissue death) in the organ.

Types of Dog Hernias

There are four main types of hernias that might affect your dog's health. Some are not very serious while others can be life-threatening.

  • Umbilical hernias: The most common type, and painless to your dog. They form in the middle of the abdominal wall over your dog's belly button and consist of soft, fatty tissue. Sometimes these hernias close up by themselves as your dog grows older.
  • Inguinal hernias: These usually occur in pregnant or constipated females although they can occur in males or as a birth defect too. They are caused by a gap between the abdominal wall and the muscles of the hind legs. Normally, the protruding tissue is fat but there is a risk the intestinal wall could come through the tear as well.
  • Perineal hernias: These occur around your dog's anus. They can occur in older dogs of both genders but are more common in males that haven't been castrated.
  • Diaphragmatic hernias: They can be congenital or occur because of an injury, for instance if your dog is hit by a car. They are caused by a tear in the muscular wall between the abdominal and chest cavities. They are dangerous as they may allow the abdominal organs enter the chest. There is no visible evidence and this kind of hernia can only be diagnosed from an X-Ray.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Dog Hernias

The method of diagnosis depends on the type of hernia. You will be able to see most of them as they look like a bulge protrusion from your dog's stomach. It might seem like your dog isn't affected by his hernia or it might seem like he is in a lot of discomfort. Common symptoms include loss of appetite and lethargy.

Other types, especially diaphragmatic hernias, are internal and can only be diagnosed with an X-Ray. In these instances, your dog may exhibit symptoms such as breathing difficulties, general weakness or an inability to walk comfortably.

The treatment for all hernias is surgery. A vet can push the protrusion back into the abdominal cavity and strengthen the muscular wall with sutures. Although hernias can be serious, your dog can lead a normal life after the condition has been corrected.