Hernias occur in dogs when the muscles surrounding posterior part of the pelvis, rectum and anus weaken. The rectum then bulges out into the weakened muscles of the pelvic canal forming a pouch. You might find your pet straining when this occurs, and this further causes muscles of the pelvic canal to break down even more. In serious cases, parts of the rectum, bladder and prostate move in the gap of the pelvic muscles and get trapped in the hernia.
Dog hernia causes
Dog hernia after spay?
- Spaying and neutering actually reduces the risk of hernia. Older male dogs that are not castrated often experience changes in hormones-especially increasing estrogen levels and lower testosterone. This might be one of the causes of perineal hernia.
- Enlarged prostate gland in male dogs can also lead to hernia.
- Constipation and straining can be a cause of this condition.
- Puppies can also develop inguinal (groin) or umbilical hernia. In most of these cases, the disease has genetic or heredity basis in that; improper breeding can lead to predisposition of delayed closure of abdominal ring. Responsible breeders should not allow dogs with hernia to breed.
- Navel hernia can occur in puppies when the umbilical cord is cut too close to the abdominal ring.
- Females dogs only get inguinal hernia and often the bulge goes unnoticed at birth. It occurs when pregnant or diseased uterus gets trapped in the gap.
Can a puppy die from inguinal hernia?
Small inguinal hernias in puppies usually go away within 6 months of age. Your vet might probably only ask you to keep an eye on it. If they do not get closed spontaneously, you might need a surgical approach.
Serious hernias caused by trauma or injury
Here is a case of a dog hit by a car who suffered from diaphragmatic hernia:
A dog got hit by a car and his owners promptly rushed him to the vet. X-rays, routine tests and blood work all came back normal. There were no obvious injuries, no bleeding, broken bones and back and chest x-rays looked normal. The dog did not even limp. SO the vet sent him home. Unfortunately, the owners found him dead the next day. His intestines and stomach which were in place during the examination had poked through a tine hole in his diaphragm caused by the accident and impaired his breathing. This shows that even chest x-rays can miss diaphragmatic hernias.
The moral here is to observe the dog for signs of breathing difficulties, seizures etc. Note that cases of diaphragmatic hernias are rare. Always keep your dog safe at home with a fenced yard and on a leash when outdoors.
Spaying and neutering
Spaying and neutering is the best preventive treatment for hernias in male dogs. All dogs must be spayed at or before 6 months of age. Neutering male dogs considerably reduces their risk of perineal hernia.
Dog hernia pictures
Picture: via YouTube
Symptoms of hernia
- The hernia may be visible as a large, soft swelling in the groin or around the anus. It can develop on one or both sides.
- You might see your pet straining as if constipated.
- If the bladder or prostate has entered the gap, your dog can suffer from severe pain or might strain while defecating or urinating.
- In case the bladder remains trapped, your dog can also develop kidney failure.
- Urinary obstruction caused by entrapped bladder can make your dog very sick.
- In very sick dogs with urinary obstruction, a catheter may be inserted to remove urine.
Your vet will have to insert a gloved finger inside the anus to determine the size of defect in the wall of the pelvic canal. If it is suspected that the pet’s bladder is trapped in the gap, an abdominal x-ray may be necessary too. Prior to dog hernia surgery, your vet might recommend chest x rays and blood tests as well. In umbilical hernia, if you can push a finger through the umbilical ring, the hernia should be repaired. This is a small operation, and most vets discharge the puppy from hospital on the same day. In female puppies with umbilical hernia, the procedure can be done at the same time as that of spaying surgery.
Perineal or Inguinal hernia surgery cost
Perineal or inguinal hernia surgery in dogs involves pushing back the contents of the stomach or urinary system back into their normal location. Your doctor might also repair the muscular wall of the pelvic cavity. Many doctors also recommend castration or spaying at the time of surgery if not already done. On an average, the perineal or inguinal hernia surgery cost can run up to $2500 for extreme cases and $500 or more for mild cases.
Dog hernia surgery recovery
- In case of sick dogs with severe urinary entrapment, catheter or needle-syringe may be required to void the urine. This is done so that the bladder becomes small enough to be pushed back into the right place.
- Once the dog is stable, the surgery is initiated to repair the hernia.
- After surgery, your dog may be given laxatives and high moisture food to prevent constipation and straining.
- In most canine hernia cases, laxatives, low residue and high moisture foods help dogs. But in some dogs, the hernia recurs after surgery. Also, the hernia is sometimes so large that it affects both sides.
- Older dogs may still strain while defecating which can cause the repair to breakdown.
- Sometimes, the muscles of the pelvic canal are so weak, they may not withstand surgical repair. Specialist veterinary surgery may be needed for advanced repair to help reinforce the repair or insert synthetic meshes.
- Keep your dog quiet for 10-14 days until the sutures are removed. Contact your vet immediately if any straining or signs of recurrence occur post surgery.
- Prognosis is uncertain as many cases recur.
- Fecal incontinence may still occur causing dog to strain.
- Some dogs die due to kidney complications.
- Hernias can sometimes be serious.
- Umbilical hernia is congenital and may be common in some breeds.
- Sometimes, the condition does not have any symptoms-especially diaphragmatic hernia
- Perineal hernia is more common in un-castrated male dogs due to hormonal link.
- Femoral hernia is common in male and female dogs. It presents itself as a non painful swelling and may sometimes be accompanied by vomiting.
- Inguinal hernia may affect young male dogs or mid-aged female dogs. It can sometimes be non traumatic.
- Never ignore a swelling in pets and especially other related symptoms like straining during urination and defecation.