Dogs, just like people can suffer from hernias. In fact, some dogs are born with the condition whereas other dogs get them as a result of some sort of injury. But what exactly is a hernia? The answer is a hernia is a tear in the dogs' abdominal wall. The tear then lets fatty tissue or even internal organs push through it. Fatty tissues or organs are normally held back by muscles and if there is a tear, there is nothing to keep them in place where they should be. Sometimes and depending on the sort of hernia, the condition can be very serious, hernias can be life-threatening which means veterinary attention must be sought as quickly as possible.
When it comes to hernias in dogs, there is a bit of bad news as well as good news. The good news is that hernias are treatable – the bad news is that depending on the sort of hernia your dog has, it can be life-threatening if left untreated.
There are 5 types of hernias that dogs commonly suffer from which include the following:
This type of hernia is the most common found in dogs. It is congenital and very often seen in puppies. The thing to look out for in a puppy is a protrusion on the belly button that is quite squishy to the touch. More often than not, this will heal itself, but this does depend on the size of the hernia because if very big, then veterinary attention might be needed.
Many owners decide to have the hernia surgically removed when their puppies are ready to be spayed or neutered. Unfortunately, if the hernia is large and left untreated, it can lead to all sorts of other serious complications later on – so advice from your vet is needed if you are unsure of what to do.
This type of hernia is found in the groin area just where the inner fold of flesh on the dogs' rear leg is attached to their bodies. The hernias can be small or very large. If the hole is large then the intestine, the bladder or even the uterus can become trapped in the hernia – this is a real life-threatening problem that needs immediate veterinary attention. It is also a very painful condition for your dog which means you should be able to recognise there is a problem pretty quickly.
Iguinal hernias are thought to be congenital and very often it is middle-aged females that are affected by them – in particular when they are in pup. Veterinary attention to surgically fix the hernia is essential to avoid any further complications which could prove life threatening.
There is a muscle that separates your dog's abdominal organs from their heart and lungs which is called the diaphragm. If a hole appears in the diaphragm, then internal organs can slip through into your dog's chest cavity – this makes it very hard for a dog to breath.
This type of hernia can either be congenital or it could occur as a result of some sort of injury – the most common one being when a dog is hit by a moving car.
This type of hernia occurs where there is a tear in muscles found in the pelvis. As a result abdominal contents seep into the area next to the anus. There are certain breeds of dogs that are predisposed to this particular type of hernia and it is very often seen in male dogs that have not been neutered. Dogs over 5 years old are more susceptible to the condition too. This is why it is important to neuter male dogs if you do not intend on breeding from them.
A hiatal hernia occurs when a piece of the dog's stomach pushes into the diaphragm – usually where the esophagus meets the stomach. This type of hernia is considered to be a congenital or could occur as a result of some sort of trauma.
Hernias push out fat or internal organs and they do this through a tear in the muscles of a dog's abdomen. They look very much like a bubble-like mass and they are usually soft to the touch. However, other symptoms to look out for are as follows:
If you suspect your dog has developed a hernia, then you should seek veterinary advice as soon as you can so they can diagnose just what type of hernia it is. The vet will then be able to tailor the treatment to suit the condition. However, if the hernia is not visible but internal, then your vet may well recommend an x-ray be taken so they can evaluate how to proceed with any treatment. Most of the time, a vet will advise on surgery to fix a hernia and then appropriate treatment and medication afterwards – but this all depends on the sort of hernia your dog has and the cause of it.
Unfortunately there is nothing you can do to prevent a hernia from occurring because most of them are either congenital or they happen as a result of some sort of injury. A hernia can also happen as a result of another health-related condition. However, with this said it is believed that by neutering or spaying a dog, this greatly reduces the chances of several types of hernias from occurring. The other thing to think about is that any existing hernias a dog may have, can be fixed when they are being spayed or neutered.
At the end of the day, if you do not intend on breeding from your dog, whether a female or male, it is far better to have them neutered or spayed as a way of reducing the risk of certain types of hernias from occurring. As some dogs are born with the condition, the hernia needs to be closely monitored and when they are neutered or spayed the hernia should be fixed at the same time - if it does not need immediate surgery that is. As with any lumps and bumps you find on your pooch, you need to keep a close eye on them to make sure nothing life threatening is going on. If you have any doubts or are worried, then you need to seek advice from your vet as soon as you can so your four legged friend stays healthy and happy!