Jump to section

What is Hernia (Diaphragmatic)?

In dogs, the diaphragm separating the chest and abdominal cavity plays an important part in respiration and also acts as a barrier between the organs. If the diaphragm is torn or damaged, it allows the abdominal organs to protrude into the chest cavity. This is called a diaphragmatic hernia, or sometimes a diaphragmatic rupture. Hernias generally occur as a result of trauma to the abdomen, but some dogs can be born with an incomplete diaphragm due to abnormal development of the fetus. The most typical form of congenital diaphragmatic hernia is Peritoneal-Pericardial Diaphragmatic Hernia which can affect the pericardial sac surrounding the heart. Any diaphragmatic hernia can be a very serious and life-threatening condition. Migration of the abdominal organs into the chest cavity can cause severe breathing difficulty and abnormal heart rhythms. Some dogs may have milder symptoms that go unnoticed and the hernia will develop into a chronic condition with fibrous attachments connecting the abdominal organs in a misplaced location. With chronic diaphragmatic hernia, dogs will suffer from repeated vomiting, weight loss, and liver disease. Most hernias can be treated surgically but ultimate recovery will depend on the immediacy of treatment and the extent of other injuries.

A rupture or tear in the diaphragm means the abdominal organs can migrate into the chest cavity where they will interfere with breathing. This is called diaphragmatic hernia. In dogs, this is most commonly caused by trauma to the abdomen, but it can also be congenital.

Hernia (Diaphragmatic) Average Cost

From 79 quotes ranging from $2,500 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

Symptoms of Hernia (Diaphragmatic) in Dogs

Getting treatment early is important, so watch for these signs in your dog.

  • Breathing difficulties especially when upset or stressed
  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Severe respiratory difficulty
  • Muffled lung sounds
  • Muffled heart sounds
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Shock
  • Abdomen that feels empty
  • Weight loss or jaundice (chronic)

Types

Traumatic

  • A diaphragmatic hernia or tear that is acquired from trauma
  • The most common type of hernia in dogs, accounting for about 80% of cases

Congenital

  • Any hernia that is inherited

Peritoneopericardial Diaphragmatic Hernia (PPDH)

  • Most common type of inherited hernia that allows for communication between the abdominal cavity and the pericardial sac surrounding the heart
  • Weimaraners and Cocker Spaniels are predisposed

Hiatal hernia

  • Hernia around the esophageal connection
  • More common in Shar Peis and brachycephalic breeds

Pleuroperitoneal hernia

  • Rare in dogs

Traumatic and congenital hernias can be further characterized based on their symptoms.

Acute

  • Severe symptoms that can be immediately life-threatening

Chronic

  • An asymptomatic hernia that goes undiagnosed and develops into a long term condition
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Hernia (Diaphragmatic) in Dogs

Congenital diaphragmatic hernias are inherited. Traumatic hernias are usually acquired from an accident that injures the abdomen.

  • Falling out a window
  • Car accident
  • Blow to the abdomen
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Hernia (Diaphragmatic) in Dogs

Diaphragmatic hernia will be suspected if your dog is showing symptoms of respiratory difficulty after a traumatic injury, especially one which affected the abdomen. Dogs that have suffered abdominal trauma should be examined regardless of whether they have symptoms since mild hernias that go unnoticed will become harder to treat. Any past traumas can also be relevant if your dog is showing symptoms of chronic gastrointestinal problems and liver disease. Breed and family history are important in diagnosing a congenital hernia; these will be more common in puppies although a mild congenital hernia could go unnoticed until later in life. Congenital hernias may often be combined with other abnormalities, such as a ventricular septal defect.

X-rays are the main tool for diagnosing a diaphragmatic hernia. The veterinarian may add a contrast dye to make the x-ray clearer. An ultrasound or CT scan may also be ordered to for a clearer picture of the abdomen and thoracic cavity. Blood and urine tests help to diagnose liver dysfunction in cases of chronic hernia.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Hernia (Diaphragmatic) in Dogs

If your dog has suffered an accident or trauma, you should assess him for immediate injuries and attempt to stop any bleeding. Try to keep the dog comfortable and avoid movement as much as possible during transportation. Cover the dog with a light blanket, but avoid anything that restricts breathing.

The veterinarian will attempt to stabilize your dog as much as possible before administering anesthetic for surgery. Severe cases may require emergency surgery if the abdomen fills with gas and your dog is unable to breathe. Surgery can be quite complex since the abdominal organs will need to be put back into position and the tear in the diaphragm will need to be sutured closed. If it is not an emergency, the veterinarian may refer you to a specialized surgeon. Your dog will need to stay in a veterinary hospital for some time after surgery so that the veterinarian can make sure the gastrointestinal and respiratory systems have returned to normal. This period could be extended based on other injuries. Intravenous pain medication may also need to be administered to make your dog feel better. After returning home, there will be a recovery period of reduced activity based on the veterinarian or surgeon’s recommendation. You may need to return for stitch removal, or a post-surgery check-up.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Hernia (Diaphragmatic) in Dogs

Diaphragmatic hernia can often be successfully treated with surgery, and your dog may make a complete recovery. Immediate treatment is very important however. Unfortunately, it’s estimated that about 15% of dogs with diaphragmatic hernias from trauma die before they can be treated. Other complications, like additional injuries or several congenital defects, can greatly affect your dog’s prognosis. If the condition is chronic and fibrous connections have developed around the abdominal organs, this will make it much harder to separate and reposition the organs without damage. Your dog’s chances of recovery can be determined more accurately by a veterinarian upon diagnosis.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Hernia (Diaphragmatic) Average Cost

From 79 quotes ranging from $2,500 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

arrow-up-icon

Top

Hernia (Diaphragmatic) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

KD

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty

My dog was partially ran over this morning, his gums became pale and there was a small amount of blood in his mouth. We took him immediately to the vet and was diagnosed with diaphragmatic hernia. He's having a labored breathing but he is still very responsive. the doctor said he needs surgery but we don't have enough money for it. She also told me that there are cases that the still survives even without the surgery.

Sept. 11, 2018

KD's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Boo

dog-breed-icon

Saint Bernard

dog-age-icon

15 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulties

Hi, I recently adopted a 15 month old St. Bernard. She was originally a stray who had been roaming for 4 weeks prior to being captured. When I adopted her on 4th April 2018 I was aware that she may have had a problem with her right hind leg, turns out she has a fractured pelvis and a broken femoral neck and needs a hip replacement, we suspect she may have been involved in an RTA whilst straying. She was only 23kg when captured, she was very malnourished and had muscle wastage and needed lots of tlc. She was doing great when I adopted her, she was putting weight on, had a great appetite and was generally very happy. She was spayed on 26th April and I had all the pre anaesthetic blood tests done etc which I presume test her liver and kidney function etc.... So after having her for nearly 12 weeks, she was 39kg and doing great....then on the 19th June 2018 she was rushed to my vets with breathing difficulties, turns out she had a diaphragmatic hernia and her Liver and gall bladder where sitting in her chest, they had to remove part of her liver as it was twisted, they also removed liver and lung lobes. she had 5 litres of fluid drained from her chest in total. So my question to you is.... 7 weeks prior to this happening she was spayed and had the pre anaesthetic checks done.... would this have shown an abnormality in her pre op tests?

July 26, 2018

Boo's Owner


answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

A diaphragmatic hernia may not have showed any signs prior to becoming an emergency, no - If the hernia was there but was not causing a problem at the time, there may not have been any signs that it was there. I'm glad that Boo is okay.

July 27, 2018

Thank you.....But if her liver was damaged and twisted would it not have shown higher enzyme levels in her bloods when tested?

Aug. 1, 2018

Boo's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Puppy

dog-breed-icon

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Papillion

dog-age-icon

10 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Bump

There is a 10-week-old puppy I am thinking about purchasing. I found out today that a few of the pups have hernias. They are a mixed breed: Mom is Papillion/Japanese Chin and Dad is a Cavalier King Charles. One of the boys has an umbilical hernia. But I am most interested in the female whose hernia is on the left side and higher than an umbilical. My concern is whether this may be pericardial or diaphragmatic ? She is one of 2 runts of the litter. The other was fine. I really like her I just don't know how serious this might be. Thank you

July 12, 2018

Puppy's Owner


answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

I’m not sure where you’re referring the hernia is, diaphragmatic hernias as not visible from the outside and are diagnosed based on symptoms and need x-rays to confirm. If you have any doubts or concerns you should have a third party Veterinarian examine the pup before you commit to purchasing. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 12, 2018

Thank you very much. I did not know from my online reading that this type of hernia was inside. I still am unsure. The hernia is further up on the body, on the left side of the chest and definitely not at the bellybutton. Thanks again.

July 12, 2018

Puppy's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Jace

dog-breed-icon

Morkie

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

Today I took my dog to the vet for his yearly.. I notice a day last week he had raspy breathing but went away. The vet ordered an xray and he has a diaphragmatic hernia. The vet said he could not operate.. due to him only having done 12 in his 50 years but we live in a small town. Anyways they told him we could go to a specialist or take him home and just let him be. Hes not having any symptoms but that one raspy voice day. Anyways.. they think his hernia has slowly came about from a weaked diapragm.. not from trauma. My question is.. can a dog live like this?

July 11, 2018

Jace's Owner


answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

A dog can live like that, yes. If Jace lives a relatively quiet life, he may not be affected by the hernia. You may be able to call around in the meantime to larger centers and find a clinic that could do the surgery for you, or save up funds until you are able to have the specialist do the surgery, as it is obviously better for Jace to have the hernia repaired.

July 12, 2018

Well I would love to get him surgery however he is 10, and his vet is concerned about his kidney's during anesthesia. So I'm just not sure what to do at the moment. Thank you so much for the reponse. I didnt know if my vet was sending me home to wait for the end or just figured he could live with it like this.

July 16, 2018

Jace's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Simon

dog-breed-icon

Terrier cross

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Post Operative

I am interested in adopting a dog that has had a diaphragmatic hernia repaired. I am wondering if there are any problems that might arise later in his life that I should be aware of Thanks

March 7, 2018

Simon's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Generally, there is a high success rate with surgical correction with dogs leading normal lives; there is always the risk of recurrence but this is low. If Simon is otherwise healthy there should be no reason to adopt him, you should note that in cases of congenital hernias he should not be bred. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 7, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Jazzie

dog-breed-icon

Pit bull

dog-age-icon

18 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Difficulty Breathing

My dog was hit by a car and it resulted in a diaphragmatic hernia which surgery was suggested to remove her abdominal organs from the chest area .... She had the surgery and recovery went well , it's been 6 weeks since the surgery and tonight I noticed she is having labored breathing fast and shallow , it it possible that the abdominal organs have shifted into the chest again

dog-name-icon

Pablo

dog-breed-icon

Shiba Inu

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Short Of Breath,

Pablo is a beautiful 3 year old white shiba inu that we have had since a pup. He got hit by a car on the weekend. Doctors have said he has Diaphragmatic Hernia. But they are not 100% on the surgery. I am just wondering if it is better for him to live the remainder of months or years with us instead of surgery. Need some reassurance from you guys. He is acting very normal. Sometimes short of breath.

dog-name-icon

Toby

dog-breed-icon

Shih Tzu

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diaphragmatic Hernia

I have 12 year old shih-tzu he was hit by a car 7 years ago and I just found out he has diaphragmatic hernia, since it's been too long his Vet recommended a laparoscopy surgery since is safer, but that would cost up to 5,000... I am unable to pay it. Will he suffer if he stays like this without having surgery? Is it worth it him being this old and risking his life doing a laparoscopy? I'm devastated with the news I just dont know what to do, he has been with me for 11 years, my heart hurts for him.

dog-name-icon

Smokey

dog-breed-icon

terrier

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Sleepiness

I'm a 37 year-old woman with a disability for depression and mood disorder. I just adopted a rescue dog about 10 days ago who is the sweetest thing you've ever seen. His name is Smokey and he's a 3 year-old terrier mix. I began the process of getting papers for him to be my official emotional support dog. The family that was "sort-of" taking care of Smokey and found him on the street, said he had been acting differently for the past month. I took him directly to the vet the day after I got him. He recieved all his vaccinations and they said his blood and urine analysis came back ok. All they suggested I go back for was to micro-chip and neuter him. After caring for him for this short time, I continued to feel like there was something off with him. Sleeping a lot, not very active, not very hungry and kind of skinny. I took him back to the vet today and this second vet listened to his chest and heart and said it didn't sound right. She suggested an X-ray, which I approved (even though I can't afford it since I recently lost my job and am unemployed) The X-rays came back and it wasn't pretty. Smokey barely has any lung capacity and all of his organs are pushed into his chest cavity. It's definitely a Diaphramatic Hernia and they said they'll call me back later tonight or tomorrow with a treatment plan. The problem is I can't afford this surgery. I'm so sad and upset. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

dog-name-icon

Rocky

dog-breed-icon

terrier

dog-age-icon

8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Sleepiness

A few days ago my puppy got hit by a car this Friday on his left side. Due to the impact he has a fractured pelvic and has an hernia. By the doctor at the emergency he needs a surgery by due to monetary incompletion (4,000) he was giving back and recommend to take him somewhere else. I did took him to the first vet and the diagnose of this doctor was my puppy has a rupture bladder and his left leg will be paralyzed and there is no need of surgery because there is nothing to do. Instead to put him down. I took my dog to the 2nd recommend place and this Doctor told exactly what he was. He said he has an hernia the abdominal wall is torn his intestines are out of place in which there is swelling, alot of brusing and blood. The doctor told me the surgery was suppose to be done immediately, but like I told him I don't have that money up front. He said we have to wait for his swelling to reduce, he needs to eat and have bowl movement in which he urinates fine, but he was not done any feces. He will also need a pelvic surgery as well. What is the best thing to give my puppy for him to be able to poop? Based on his condition will my puppy be able to stay with me forever? Is it normal for his urine to smell? He is really active every sound he hears he picks his ears up, and he barks is this a good condition?

Hernia (Diaphragmatic) Average Cost

From 79 quotes ranging from $2,500 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

How can we help your pet?