Hernias in Dogs
Definition of Hernias
A hernia is an abnormal protrusion of part of the body through the structures that surround it. They can exist at birth or be acquired as a result of trauma and often are genetic. In most cases, affected animals have a weak spot, an unusual opening or some other abnormality in a body wall that permits tissue to bulge through it. Fat and intestines are the most common tissues to herniate. A hernia in the groin is an inguinal hernia, and a hernia in the belly button is an umbilical hernia. These hernias are often seen in young puppies. Hernias near the anus are called perineal hernias and usually occur in older dogs. Another common site of hernias in dogs is the diaphragm, which is the muscular partition separating the chest and abdominal cavities. Diaphragmatic hernias involve protrusion of abdominal tissues through the diaphragm and are called hiatal hernias. Most dogs with hernias show no signs of discomfort.
Hernias in dogs can be either congenital or acquired. Congenital hernias are those that are present at birth; they may or may not have a hereditary component. Congenital hernias involve the failure of some part of an internal or external body wall to close normally during neonatal development and typically involve defects in the diaphragm or other parts of the abdominal wall. Acquired hernias are those that develop sometime after the dog is born. Acquired
Hernias can cause a number of different symptoms and clinical signs in an individual dog. However, most of the time, the dog does not seem to be very affected by the hernia and does not show any or many signs of distress or discomfort. In some cases, especially with diaphragmatic hernias, affected dogs will suffer respiratory difficulties and/or abdominal pain.Many dogs with hernias will show no observable signs of distress, discomfort or illness. This is
Most hernias are best definitively diagnosed by radiographs (X-rays), which will reveal the abnormal position of the tissue or organs that are protruding through the herniation defect. More specific radiographic contrast studies are often recommended to confirm the diagnosis. Contrast studies involve introducing special contrast media, such as barium, into the dog’s system either orally or by injection. As the contrast medium moves through the dog’s digestive tract, it will accentuate any hernia defects on
Surgical correction after consultation with a qualified veterinary professional is the standard of care for treating hernias in dogs. The earlier that a hernia can be repaired is usually the better. Prompt surgical correction can help to prevent the formation of tissue adhesions and entrapment of organs within the site of the herniation.If the protruding tissue of a hernia can be manually pushed back through the defect in the body wall (which usually but not