Types of Hernias in Dogs

There are at least three types of hernias that commonly occur in dogs, inguinal, umbilical and diaphragmatic hernias. Hernias occur when there is an opening or weak spot in a muscle that allows tissues on the other side of the muscle to slip through. Here's what you should know about the different types of dog hernias.

Types of Canine Hernias

  • Inguinal hernias occur on the abdomen, usually on the groin inside one of the rear legs. Umbilical hernias occur at the belly button, where the umbilical cord was attached when the puppy was in the womb. In both of these types of abdominal hernias, subcutaneous fat or internal organs can slip through an opening in the muscle and rest just below the surface of the skin.
  • Diaphragmatic hernias occur in the diaphragm, the muscle that divides the abdominal and chest cavities. In this type of hernia, intestines and organs can slip through a weakness in the diaphragm and come to rest in the chest cavity, placing pressure on the lungs.

Complications of Hernias in Dogs

Untreated hernias can be fatal. When intestines or organs slip through a hole in the surrounding muscle tissue, they could become cut off from the flow of blood. When blood can't flow properly through herniated tissues, they die and begin to decay. If your dog develops an abdominal hernia in which the intestines slip through the muscle wall, then food may not be able to pass through that section of the intestines, and your dog could suffer intestinal blockage as well as possible tissue strangulation.

Symptoms of Canine Hernias

If your dog develops an abdominal hernia, you'll probably be able to see it. The most likely location are at the belly button and on the inside of the rear legs, near the groin. If your dog's hernia has caused intestinal blockage or strangulation of tissues, your dog will vomit and may lose his appetite.

If fluids are still able to pass through the herniated section of intestine, your dog will still drink water, but in the case of total bowel obstruction, your dog may no longer seem thirsty.

When the blood supply to herniated tissues is cut off, the area will swell and become tender to the touch. If the strangulated tissue dies, your dog will experience extreme pain, lethargy and fever. He'll no longer want to eat or drink.

As the strangulated tissue dies, it releases dangerous toxins into your dog's body, which can quickly cause kidney or liver failure and death within 24 to 48 hours.

Hernia Treatment for Dogs

Your vet will treat the hernia by replacing the herniated tissues and surgically suturing the opening in the muscle. If your dog is a very young puppy, your vet might recommend postponing hernia surgery and performing it during the spay or neuter process. Otherwise, your vet will want to surgically correct the hernia right away to avoid the dangerous complications that can occur when herniated tissue loses its blood supply.