If you weren't aware, dogs can get hernias just like people can, and just like people, dogs can be treated for their hernias and live normal lives with them! Just like people, these hernias can happen in many different areas of the body, too. Hernias can be dangerous, painful, and definitely life-threatening - but fortunately, they are entirely treatable and can be taken care of relatively easily.
There are five types of hernias that are commonly seen in dogs, and most of them occur near the belly button, by the groin area, perineal area, the stomach, and the diaphragm. If you're not sure what a hernia is, how they develop, the signs to look for, and what to do if you think your dog has a hernia, don't worry - we've laid out the ultimate guide to answer all of your questions. Overall, the best news is that even if your dog does have a hernia and requires immediate attention, your pup can be treated and live a normal, happy life despite the hernia!
Signs Your Dog May Have a Hernia
First, a hernia is a tear in the wall of a muscle that lets the internal organs or other tissues that are found behind the muscle to push through, resulting in a painful, swelling lump that protrudes from the body.
The causes of hernias are diverse, but unfortunately, genetics play a large role in this. In fact, in about 90 percent of dogs with hernias, the reason is due to genetics.
While you likely will be able to see this happen, sometimes your dog will develop other signs before serious symptoms kick in. The biggest sign is the protruding, soft, bubble-like mass, but your pup may also have symptoms like vomiting and coughing.
It's also likely that your dog won't want to eat and will lose a large amount of weight very quickly. Your pup can even have shortness of breath, lots of drooling, anxiety and nervousness, cramping, fever, lethargy, fatigue, and numbing in their legs.
- Head tilting
- Soft Swelling or Bubble-Like Protrusion on the Body
- Sensitivity to Touch
- Bloody Urine
- Lack of Appetite
The History of Dog Hernias
During a hernia surgery, the vet will try to push the bulging tissue back into the muscular wall. After that, they'll try to strengthen and support the abdominal wall with sutures and mesh so that the tear will not re-open. Your vet can take care of this issue with either open or laparoscopic surgery, and in some cases, your dog won't even need surgery.
The first priority when seeking treatment for your dog is to see a vet immediately for evaluation and medical help. Most importantly, do not ignore a hernia. These medical issues can cause complications, pain for your pup, and if left alone, death.
The Science of Dog Hernias
A hernia, as we discussed, is a rip in the muscular wall that allows organs and fatty tissues to protrude through, often making a very painful, bubble-like appearance sticking out your pup's body. If a hernia is left alone, there can be many complications.
The hernia will obviously grow and become more painful, portions of your pup's intestines could be trapped and not get enough blood flow causing strangulation, and sometimes, the hernia can obstruct the bowel and cause severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and more.
How To Train Your Dog to Deal With Hernia
It's likely that your dog will need to take it very easy after his surgery to avoid any rips or tears to his incision. Help your dog relax by keeping him calm and playing games where he can stay seated or laying down - don't get him too riled up though. It's also important that your dog is familiar with commands like "no" and "leave it" when dealing with healing.
If your pup can't stop licking his incision, it's likely that he'll need to wear the dreaded cone of shame, so make sure that he's well-trained in this area. Additionally, make sure your dog is comfortable taking pills and antibiotics after his surgery so that he can recover as quickly as possible.
How to React if You Think Your Dog Has a Hernia
Once you determine your pup has an unidentified lump, don't wait for other symptoms to arise - see your vet!
Work with your vet to develop diet and exercise goals for your dog while he's recovering from hernia surgery.
Spay or neuter your dogs as soon as is appropriate and healthy to avoid some types of hernias.