Surgical Treatment for Hernia in Dogs

Hernia in dogs is most commonly seen in puppies less than one year of age. Although hernia is generally inherited, it may also occur in dogs suffering from trauma. A hernia is an abnormal opening in certain muscles in the dog's body, through which other bodily tissues pass.

Common Sites of Hernia in Dogs

  • Hernia at the groin area: inguinal hernia
  • Hernia at the belly button: umbilical hernia
  • Hernia in the diaphragm: diaphragmatic hernia
  • Hernia next to the anus: perineal hernia

Inguinal Hernia

Hernias can be either very small or large in size. It appears to be a soft mass in the dog's groin area or the inner surface of the hind leg. The intestines, bladder or the uterus could get lodged in the space near the groin. This could be a fatal problem in certain cases. Female middle age dogs are at a greater risk of developing inguinal hernia. Male dogs suffering from inguinal hernia may also be suffering from cryptorchidism.

Umbilical Hernia

The belly button is the most common area for canine hernia. The umbilical opening generally closes in pets soon after birth. In some pets, the opening may not close and result in hernia. Abdominal organs such as the intestines protrude through the abdominal wall close to the belly button.

Diaphragmatic Hernia

The diaphragm separates the abdomen from the heart and lungs. If an abnormality exists in the diaphragm, the abdominal organs such as the liver and intestines may enter the chest cavity and cause difficulty breathing, due to the proximity to the lungs. Diaphragmatic hernia can occur in dogs with a genetic predisposition or due to traumatic accidents.

Perineal Hernia

Dogs suffering from perineal hernia experience an abnormal displacement of abdominal organs in the area around the anus, known as perineum. The most common cause of perineal hernia in male dogs is prostate enlargement.

Symptoms of Hernia

  • Rapid breathing
  • Coughing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Lethargy

Treatment of Hernia in Dogs

Before surgical intervention, the pet might have to be stabilized with antibiotic medication, oxygen, IV fluids and rest. The type of surgery performed is based on the diagnosis and radiographs. The surgery for umbilical hernia is usually successful and without complications. During the surgery the vet will close the hole around the hernia with a purse string suture. This pulls the hole shut when it's tightened.

Inguinal hernia is more problematic, as it often occurs due to trauma or accidents. The vet may use a synthetic mesh to close the hole if the injury is severe. In cases of diaphragmatic hernia, the vet may attach the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent protrusions. Perineal hernia is treated using the internal obturator muscle flap technique. Along with surgery, the vet will prescribe medication to expedite recovery and treat any damaged organs.

Surgery may not be necessary for all cases of hernia. However, if the pet requires surgery, post operative checkups will be necessary. Hernias found in younger pets can be repaired when they are neutered or spayed. Older dogs require prompt attention if hernia is present.

Dogs surgically treated for hernia need rest and proper administration of medication. It's best to avoid breeding dogs with hernia problems, as there is a strong genetic link to hernias.