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. 

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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

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

Hernia Repair Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Heidi
Shih Tzu
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Our 2 1/2 year old shih tzu had inguinal hernia repair and spay done 4 days ago. She would not eat so we returned to vet. The vet got her to eat a small amount, said she was active, and sent her home. I cannot get her to eat and here she is mopey and won't move. How concerned should I be about the food and is this normal to be so different at home?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations
Normally if a dog will eat in the clinic they will also eat at home, it is important for Heidi to eat but at a minimum she should be drinking and keeping hydrated. Ensure that she is eating and possibly mix some smooth wet food with water and try to feed her slowly with a syringe which may encourage her to eat; if she still isn’t eating by tomorrow (Saturday) return to your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Sam
Lab/Pit mix
6 1/2 months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

none

My dog had hernia repair surgery 2 weeks ago and was nurtured at the same time; he's fine and back to his normal self. But today we noticed on his tummy where they removed the hernia it's got a bump again. I was wondering how common is it for hernia's to reappear in the same spot. Also is it possible that the dr may have made a mistake when they removed the hernia the first time? I have photos if they would help..

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations
Hernia surgery has a high success rate, but may recur in cases of overexertion after surgery or dehiscence of the sutures; I would check back in with your Veterinarian to have a look at the hernia and to determine if any further action is needed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Bart Wang
lhasa apso
12 Years
Serious condition
2 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

perineal hernia

My Lhasa Apso first had hernia repair at 6 yrs old and neutered at the same time. The hernia re-appeared at 12 yrs old and since then he has had a mesh inserted, mesh removed due to it being oversize and causing constant bleeding over 3 months, to using his own skin flaps to repair the hernia. After the last procedure, 6 months went by where my dog was happy and normal until today where the hernia reappeared. I'm lost about what to do with a heavy heart. Should I visit a specialist or go to the same Vet who performed the surgery? Should we try a smaller mesh? Would there even be any more skin left to "overlap" the hernia area?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations

Given Bart’s age, the recurrence of the hernia and the type of hernia (perineal); I would recommend visiting a Specialist to look at Bart and to make the hernia repair. I cannot comment on the best way forward and most likely the Specialist would need to decide on the course of action during the surgery after opening the incision and seeing what tissue is available for use. You can find a Board Certified Specialist in your area by looking at the link below. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
http://find.vetspecialists.com/

thank you

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Bulbul
Shih Tzu
2 Months
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Little swelling

Medication Used

None

I have a 2 months old shih tzu puppy.She is having a umbical hernia. Should we get it operated or will it go by itself? And if surgery is required when should we get it done? Are there are side effects?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations

If an umbilical hernia is causing no trouble you can take a wait and see approach as some may resolve within six months; typically we tack on hernia repair to another surgery like neutering unless it is an emergency. Most times it is just fat, but you should start visiting your Veterinarian to get Bulbul vaccinated and they will also advise you too at the same time. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Lady Bug
Beagle
7 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

eating normal
No Pain
Mass In Abdomen

How do we find a general practitioner in our area that will perform a repair on an inguinal hernia. Our 7 year old dog had xrays and an ultrasound done by at a specialty hospital, but the specialists said this procedure could be done by a GP. However, most of the vets I've contacted won't do this procedure. How do we find a vet with this kind of experience but doesn't come with the specialist price tag?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations
One option is to call your nearest Veterinary Schools, many of them offer specialist services at reasonable prices; another option is to just keep calling around Veterinarians in and around your area. Some Veterinarians won’t do the surgery because of the chance of recurrence etc… Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Mogli
Springer spaniel
1 Year
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Lethargic

Medication Used

Tramadol

My dog had a hernia repair today and it is too painful for him to lay down. I'm worried about him standing for 12+ hours after a surgery. Is this normal behavior after a surgery? Also, he has gotten on the couch a few times (his favorite), is that going to rip his stitches?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations

Hernia repair like any surgery is going to be uncomfortable and dogs may position themselves or stand due to pain; you should try to restrict Mogli’s movement to prevent dehiscence of sutures and don’t allow him to jump on furniture or run (walk him on a lead). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Colt
Bullmastiff
11 Weeks
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Bump

My 11 week old mastiff puppy had a successful umbilical hernia repair 12 days ago but there is still a bump about 3cms x 2cms in diameter and about 1cm in height. Is it possible that this just be internal swelling at the hernia site and is this common for there to still be a bump?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations

Whilst dehiscence of sutures recurrence of the hernia may occur, it is rare; most likely it is a seroma which is a pocket of serum which may occur after surgery near the surgical site and is usually nothing to be too concerned about. It would be best just to pop in to your Veterinarian’s Office to have it checked over to be on the safe side as I cannot say for sure without examining it myself. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Thank you Dr.

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Cassie
Maltishon
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

The scar is a little pink at one end

My 18 month Maltese/bichon had hernia and spay 7 days ago she has seen our vet and they were very pleased with her, how long is it before she can jump on the sofa safely, now she is feeling better she has so much energy and she has jumped on 2 or three times, thus worries me.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations

Generally discomfort from surgery wears off after two or three days which can then make it difficult to keep an active dog calm. We generally prefer dogs to rest for ten to fourteen days after surgery to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Gus
Sharpei
7 Months
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

No pain no swelling
Knot around scar/incision

had hernia repair three weeks ago, now he has a knot around his scar, I have pictures if they would help, just worried about it... It does not hurt to touch, and is not hot to the touch either.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations

Small lumps and bumps may occur around a surgical incision site after surgery may be a response to local tissue irritation from the suture material; if there is no pain, it is cool to the touch, cannot be pushed back into the abdomen (with gentle pressure) and smaller that a quarter inch, I wouldn’t be too concerned. Keep an eye on it and if it grows in size, becomes painful or you notice any other worrying symptoms, visit your Veterinarian immediately. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Mariposa
Bull Terrier
6 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Loose stool

My dog was spayed four days ago and today I noticed some swelling around her stitches. She is very high energy and it has been difficult to keep her from jumping up on my bed and couch and running around the house. Could she have developed hernia? I pressed down on the area and she did not seem to be in pain. She is eating well. However she has been urinating more frequently than usual and some of her stool has been a bit loose.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations

Dogs may develop a small lump after spaying called a seroma, especially if a dog has been over active since the surgery; another cause is a hernia at the incision site caused by dehiscence of the sutures. Keep an eye on the lump, but if you are concerned; visit your Veterinarian before your post surgery checkup. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Hocus pocus
Doberman Pinscher
4 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

She can not step on her paw.

My girl 4 years old doberman pincsher. She hasn't use her rear left leg. I mean she can not step on her paw. After that, she didn't any problem. She is highly energetic and her appetite is fine except for walking problem.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations

There are a few possible causes, but this would be something that your Veterinarian would need to examine as there are different joints and ligaments in the rear limb which may be causing this lameness; keep her rested until you can visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Wally
German Shorthaired Pointer
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Loose stools

My dog had a suspected hernia about 3 weeks ago. He had a large bump in his abdomen. The vet opened him up and discovered that it looked like it had healed itself (there was no internal organs going into the opening) and that the bump was filled with fluid. She closed him back up, we kept him off his feet and he healed fine. The only issue is that around 3 days after the surgery he has developed very loose stools and they have continued even with the prescribing of metronidazole, which he took for multiple days. My biggest concern is that she did something wrong when she was operating. He otherwise seems totally fine, lots of energy, eating and drinking as normal.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations

If there were no organ involvement in the hernia site and your Veterinarian only stitched up the opening, I cannot see what they may have done wrong especially if there is no change in behaviour or eating habits. Loose stools may be caused by many different causes; trying some plain canned pumpkin may help firm the stool up. Otherwise, infections, parasites, foreign bodies, stress, food intolerance and other causes may cause the stool to be loose. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Hi,

My dog got bit by a big dog and got hernia. He had the surgery 2 weeks ago and had his small intestine rejoined because the vet had to cut off 1.5 foot. He came home after a week at the vet and have a lot of discharge all these time. He's on pain killer, and 2 antibiotics. He had to get restitch 4 days ago because one of the sides where he got the surgery got opened up. The vet put 4 drain valves (2 on each side) this time and sent him home the same day. He's still having a lot of discharge everyday and I cannot really clean him either because he won't let me so I just leave him as he is.
Since there is no cleaning I am seeing some white around one of the stitch and looks like one side of the wound is opening up again because I can see some small holes around the stitch.
I'm very concerned as to if his wound is supposed to get opened even though he cannot lick it?
And how long is the stitch going to look raw? Do you also think that because I leave all the discharge on his body and wound area that it is making it not heal properly and messing with the stitches?

Thank you

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omega
Cane Corso
4 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

tired
Loss of Balance
Diarrhea
Not drinking
Vomiting

my puppy had an umbilical hernia repair a few weeks ago. stuff she is vomitting and had gray diarrhea with stringy mucus stuff, which i can only imagine is internal lining. could this be from the surgery?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations

Normally complications from the surgery would have presented before now; infections, parasites, foreign bodies, poisoning, dietary problems etc… may all cause these symptoms. It would be best to visit your Veterinarian with a stool sample to have Omega checked over. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Tenko
Siberian Husky
3 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

None

Medication Used

None

Want to buy a Red and White husky from a reputable breeder and dog show participant / winner. The puppy in question has a " Inactive ( Closed ) umbilical hernia. I was told that this can be fixed at barely any cost when the puppy is taken to be spayed.
My question is... I have looked this up and everything I find is $1200 on average for the repair. What could she be referring to that she is quoting such a low price to have it repaired? I don't want to assume its selective wording to sell the puppy.
Recommendations on an approach when purchasing a puppy that has this problem listed?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1469 Recommendations

Umbilical hernias are regularly repaired during neutering and the additional expense is negligible; I’ve known practices to charge an add on for umbilical hernia repair during neutering and others which just waive the cost (depending on severity). The biggest reason for the cost of hernia repair is the same for any surgery really which is the surgery costs (Veterinarian, anaesthesia, equipment etc…) which similar for any surgery. Some hernias can be closed easily along with the (spay) surgical site and require little action on the side of the Veterinarian; other hernia repairs can be quite complex and require removal of portions of intestine etc… in severe cases. I would call your local Veterinary Clinic and explain to them the type of hernia, your desire to have her spayed etc… and ask them their policy on ‘add-ons’ as each Veterinary Clinic is different (plus it is free to ask). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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