Dog Hernia Explained

Dog hernias are a painful condition that most commonly occur in the area of a dog's belly button or groin.

What are Hernias?

A hernia is a hole in the muscle of a dog in which tissue can pass. A hernia in a weakened in the abdomen and groin can allow organs (like the intestines) and other substances (like fat) to pass through the hole in the muscle and reside beneath the skin.

A diaphragmatic hernia, since it lies between the chest and abdomen of a dog, can allow organs to pass through the tear in the muscle to the chest cavity.

When tissue and organs pass through muscles and relocate themselves, they can occupy the space other organs would need.

Types of Canine Hernias

A canine hernia in the belly button area is also called an umbilical hernia, which is the type most often seen in dogs.

A hernia in the groin or leg area is called an inguinal hernia. A birth defect or injury can cause a dog to develop this type of hernia. An inguinal hernia is more serious than an umbilical hernia.

Dogs can also develop hernias in their diaphragms called diaphragmatic hernias, which are considered the most serious type. Dogs can be born with this type of hernia or it can result from an injury.

A perineal hernia often happens on one side of a dog's anus, under the tail. This type of hernia is most often seen in older male dogs.

Dog Hernia Symptoms

A dog with a hernia may have a visible bulge in the area specific to the hernia. When a dog has a hernia, he or she will not have a big appetite and vomiting may occur. A dog may also drink only small amounts of water and will lack energy.

The restriction of blood due to a hernia can cause a lot of pain for a dog. A fever will often accompany the pain. Strangulation of the herniated tissues, organs or intestines will cause a lack of blood and oxygen to reach vital body parts. If not treated, the tissues or organs can die, rupture, swell or develop an infection.

Dog Hernia Treatment

An untreated canine hernia can result in a dog's death within 24 to 48 hours. It's vital to recognize the signs of a hernia and take the dog to a veterinary clinic.

At the clinic, after a thorough examination to check for other underlying causes for the symptoms, surgery will be performed. A dog hernia surgery will make sure all of the organs are placed in the correct spot in a dog's body. The tear or opening in the muscle is closed up with special, long-lasting sutures.

All dog hernias are corrected surgically, and many of the procedures are considered routine. However, some dog hernia operations are harder to perform, depending on the cause and location.

Dogs that have had a hernia or a history of hernias in the bloodline should not be bred, as the condition is often hereditary. Dogs that have a hernia often have a good prognosis when the condition is recognized early and treated quickly.