Dog Hernia Repair

The most common dog hernia repair is for a correction of an umbilical hernia, which forms at the site of the umbilical cord after the puppy is born. There are many other causes for hernias, and each type has a specific method of surgical repair.

Causes of Hernias

Hernias are caused by a weakness in the abdominal region that creates a small opening. Through that opening fat, tissues or organs squeeze through. If the dog is active this will aggravate the condition. Hernias that go untreated cause severe health problems or can even become fatal for the dog. The part of the organ that eases through the opening eventually becomes strangulated. This means the organ gets pinched off over time, thus "strangling" the exposed section.

Types of Hernias

The most commonly diagnosed hernias are umbilical, inguinal and diaphragmatic hernias. In the cases of inguinal and diaphragmatic hernias, the surgery may be complicated due to the cause of the hernia. For example, the inguinal and diaphragmatic hernia is often the result of a trauma, such as a heavy blow to the body, like being hit by a motor vehicle. Surgery to correct such a detrimental injury often requires the use of synthetic mesh to patch and repair damage to the muscle opening as well as to prevent further tearing of the tissue.


Signs of a hernia are a lump or bulging under the skin, and if untreated it will usually become larger over time. Other hernias are inguinal  and diaphragmatic which appear in the groin area and chest area respectively. Both inguinal and diaphragmatic hernias can also be surgically corrected. In both the umbilical and the inguinal hernias, the intestinal tract pokes through the opening. Diaphragmatic hernias usually have organs such as the liver or the stomach working their way through the opening in the abdomen wall.This cuts off nutrients and blood supply to that part of the organ. Hernias that pinch off the intestinal tract will initially cause the dog to vomit because the food cannot move past the pinched off section of intestine. If the condition is ignored, the section of pinched intestine will lose blood flow and cause the dog to have great pain.

The Surgical Procedure

Surgery to correct hernias ranges from routine to fairly complicated depending on the type of hernia and the organ that is affected. In the case of umbilical hernias, the surgery can usually wait until the dog is being spayed or neutered, at which time the hernia surgery is performed, saving the owner some cost. The intestine is slipped back into place and the opening in the abdominal wall is sutured shut using a method referred to as "purse strings." The stitches are run along the edge of the opening and then pulled together to close the opening, and fastened off to let heal. Because the opening has existed, it will however become a weak spot in the muscle wall, and may possibly reopen or be the site of future injuries.

Recovery is a minimum of a few days, depending on the type of hernia. A good rule in general is to keep the dog quiet and let them sleep as they want.