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What is Hernia Repair?

Hernia repair is a surgical treatment used in dogs to repair various hernias that dogs may have occurred either congenitally or acquired later in life. The goal of hernia repair is to remove misplaced abdominal contents back into the abdomen and repair the defect that allowed communication between the abdomen and other body cavities to occur. Hernia repair is a common procedure in dogs. Hernia repair for common hernias such as perineal hernias can be performed by your primary veterinarian. More rare hernias or complex cases may be referred to a boarded veterinary surgeon. 

Hernia Repair Procedure in Dogs

Diagnosis of a hernia may involve physical exam only (for perineal hernias) or a combination of physical exam and diagnostic imaging (for internal hernias). Once the type of hernia has been determined, surgery is scheduled for your dog. Before surgery, it will be important to keep your dog off food for 12 hours to lessen the chance of nausea associated with certain anesthetic premedication agents. 

Some hernias may not require that abdominal exploration be done (perineal) and some hernia repairs are much more involved and involve the abdomen and thoracic space (peritoneopericardial diaphragmatic hernia).

General hernia repair steps

  • Pre-anesthesia/anesthesia applied
  • Position animal for surgery (on back for abdominal/thoracic hernias, on stomach for perineal hernias)
  • Prepare incisional area (shave, clean)
  • Move to operating room (if prep is done in another area)
  • Drape in for surgery and sterilize skin to be incised
  • Incision made along appropriate plane for the hernia type (along abdominal midline or off midline by rectum)
  • Hernia visualized and necrotic tissue removed
  • Defect in muscle layers repaired (mesh indicated for large defects)
  • Abdomen checked for bleeding
  • Incision closed
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Efficacy of Hernia Repair in Dogs

Hernia treatment is generally effective and effects are permanent, especially if recovery is smooth. Alternative treatment of hernias are not generally recommended due to the risk of entrapped tissue becoming strangulated (blood supply cut off) and dying. Once this occurs there is a high risk of infection which could lead to sepsis.

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Hernia Repair Recovery in Dogs

After surgery, your dog will be given pain medication for any postoperative pain. You will need to keep your dog still (no jumping, running, rough play) for 10 days while the skin incisions heal to reduce the risk of dehiscence (sutures coming apart). Your dog will also be given an Elizabethan collar to prevent chewing at the incision site. After surgery, you will need to monitor your dog’s incision for signs of infection such as swelling, heat and discharge. Generally, after the suture removal appointment, there is no need to follow up with your veterinarian for the procedure. 

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Cost of Hernia Repair in Dogs

Hernia repair surgery can be expensive and price varies depending on the location of the hernia and the cost of living in your area. Hernia repair expenses range from $700 (for simple more common hernias) to $2,500 (more complex cases) with $1,600 being the average cost. These costs include diagnosis, surgery and aftercare. 

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Dog Hernia Repair Considerations

Hernia repair, like all surgery, is associated with risks. The most common risks of hernia repair surgery are bleeding, dehiscence, and infection.  Keeping your dog still after surgery and monitoring the incision for signs of infection will help prevent these adverse effects from occurring. Hernia surgery is life saving and the benefits are long lasting. The potential for another hernia occurrence in the same location is low post-op.

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Hernia Repair Prevention in Dogs

In general, prevention of hernias that need surgical correction is difficult. Many hernias are due to traumatic events or are congenital anomalies. Choosing to not breed those dogs with congenital hernias could help prevent future pups from being born with hernias, but is not a guarantee. Perineal hernias are most often seen in intact male dogs and may be associated with straining to defecate due to an enlarged prostate or prostatitis. The best way to prevent this kind of hernia is to have your dog neutered if they develop an enlarged prostate or, ideally, as a puppy.

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Hernia Repair Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Dutch shepherd plott hound mix

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7mo

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Gags Like Hes Chocking Some. Times But Where He Had His Surgery For His. Hernia I Can. Fell Metal

He. Has. Knot an. Right. Along. The cut of. His. Hernia I. Fell a piece. Of. Metal do they use that. As. stitches nowadays I. Adopted him 3. Week ago an is. Now. My. Bff an. I'm. Scared

Aug. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. There are normally multiple levels of stitches that close a hernia repair, and as it heals, some of them can migrate out words. If the area is not inflamed when he's not bothering with it, you can probably wait until your next appointment and ask your veterinarian about it, it may be fine. If he is bothering with it or does red or there is a discharge, then it would be best to follow up sooner and make an appointment to have him scene as soon as you can. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 29, 2020

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Doberman Pinscher

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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Pale Gums, Difficulty Breathing, And A Noticable In & Out With Diaphragm

After reading your " Step by Step" procedure when fixing a Hialtal Hernia, the one thing our Vet did it wasn't part of your surgical fix here, was to re-postion his previous "Gastropexy" an elective procedure done a week prior when having our Dobie neutered. Our vet not only moved the original but did so by securing the tact site using a "double tact" not the standard single, one on each side was my understanding. Why did our Vet find it necessary to do this, yet I didn't notice such with your "step by step" procedure?

July 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. There's actually an art to practicing veterinary medicine and surgery, in addition to the years of instruction and learning that we go through. Every single surgery is individual, and every single surgery is going to be different, depending on blood flow, tissue damage, and situation. I have no way of commenting on what your veterinarian did or didn't do, as I was not there for the procedure. If you have a question about the surgery, the best person to answer that would be your veterinarian. I hope everything is going well with your dog.

July 27, 2020

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Maltipoo

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1.5 years

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Lump

My girl had hernia repair surgery (where she was spayed) and had the sutures removed 3 days ago. Today I noticed a small, pea sized, hard lump at the surgery site. I'm panicking. What could this be?

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, There are most like absorbable stitches under the skin. These will be there for a few months. This is nothing to worry about and will go away in a few weeks.

July 26, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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Hernia

My dog just recently had a hernia repair surgery. It’s been almost a week since and I’ve just looked at the incision site. There’s a little discharge there and the area’s a little dark but I can’t tell if it’s blood or not. What should I do? Should I be concerned?

July 21, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. If the wound is not oozing excessively and does not have a strong odor, it may be fine to monitor it. If you are not sure, and are concerned, the best thing to do would be to have your veterinarian take a look at it and make sure that it is healing normally. I hope that all goes well for him!

July 21, 2020

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Maltese

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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Black Stool

My dog was attacked by another dog and had to undergo hernia surgery. Is it normal for the first bowel movements be black?

July 17, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. It would not surprise me if her bowel movements were black, if she had intestinal bleeding and a lot of trauma to her GI tract. Without knowing what the details of her surgery were, it is hard for me to say, however. I think the best thing for you to do would be to call the clinic where you had her surgery, and ask them if this is something that you should be worried about. It is likely a passing problem, and if she seems to be doing fine otherwise you may not have to worry, but double-checking would be a good idea. I hope that she recovers from this and is back to her normal self soon.

July 17, 2020

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Tyso

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Boston Terrier

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8 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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No Control Of Bowel Movements.

my boston terrier had perineal hernia surgery in November 2019. He still has no control of bowel movements. Is this normal? Has bowel movements even while sleeping

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Buster

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Labrador Corso

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12 Years

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My male dog - a large (40kgs) labrador mixed has a perianal adenoma (a non-cancerous fleshy lump) underneath his tail. six months ago we took him to the vet who prescribed Tamoxifene - 2 tablets daily for a total of 3 weeks; abstain for 3 weeks and then start again for 3 weeks. We only completed the first 3 weeks as the lump 'dissolved'. There were no side-effects except for his breathing which seemed slightly more laboured. The symtons reappeared in August this year and he was again prescribed the same drug. After the 3 weeks of taking the drug his appetite became ferocious -normally he is not a big eater - he began to drink water constantly and urinating frequently and in the afternoon he pants all the time. He may have put on weight because his stomach which was always trim is now hanging down slightly. The lump has not reduced sufficiently for us to stop the treatment and therefore he is due to start his next session On Tuesday 24 September but we are reluctant to continue due to these problems. We live in France and the weather has been very hot and perhaps this may aggravate his breathing and, obviously he is now older but, it appears that all these problems have occurred since his second session on the medication. We have searched the Internet for side effects in dogs on Tamoxifene but the results we have found are too technical for us to understand. Are you able to offer any advice on the drug and perhaps suggest alternatives?

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Ollie

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German Shepherd

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

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Sleepiness

My 2 year old German Shepherd female got her umbilical hernia repaired and got spayed after the same time but there was still a small lump protruding from her belly the vet said it is fine. 12 days later that spot has come back to its original size before the surgery and has become hard what is the issue here was the surgery unsuccessful or there is another issue? She is eating ok and not acting weird at all and has come back to her normal self after the surgery.

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Greta

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Miniature Schnauzer

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11 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

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Protrusion Of Hernia

My mini schnauzer Greta has had an inguinal hernia for many years. She will be 11 years this coming January. Back in October she had an episode of pancreatitis and at this time her platelet count was 0. She is being treated for the low platelet count with steroids, numbers are increasing and her pancreatitis is controlled. She was hospitalized for 8 days out of precaution due to the low platelets and the fear of spontaneous bleeding. She returned home and now her hernia keeps popping out, it can be reduced (sometimes difficult - no vomiting), but it happens several times a day. My question is: can she have her hernia repaired if her platelets are normalized via steroids (and while in treatment)? And anesthesia can increase her chances of another episode of pancreatitis?