Can Dogs Get a Hernia After Being Spayed?

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Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures that many pet owners choose for their dogs. Often, it’s for responsible population control, but can also be in the best interest of the pet, shielding them from certain cancers as well as correcting behavioral issues. However, spaying a female dog is not without its complications. As with any surgery, adverse effects may occur that can be frightening for the pet owner and potentially painful for the pet.

Some may believe that hernias aren’t possible after an ovariohysterectomy, but a common post-surgical ailment some recently-spayed dogs experience is an acute hernia. The question of whether a dog can develop a hernia after being spayed is common, as lumps may appear around the abdominal area, near or around the healing incision after an ovariohysterectomy, much like a hernia would.

Can Dogs Get a Hernia After Being Spayed?

YES!
Dogs can certainly get hernias after being spayed. At times, hernias can actually be a result of an improper healing process after being spayed, such as the animal overexerting herself and tearing internal stitches along the abdominal wall. Because an ovariohysterectomy is successfully completed by removing female reproductive organs, there’s no reason why a hernia couldn’t potentially occur in spayed dogs.

Hernias can occur in nearly any mammal, as it involves an organ bursting through internal muscle or tissue, whether neutered, spayed, or not.

Does My Dog Have a Hernia?

Symptoms
A hernia is an internal tear in tissues and sometimes muscles. Because of this, they can go without being noticed. Occasionally, hernias aren’t dangerous or even painful. In the case of a hernia showing up after being spayed, these are usually more serious. If you notice a lump on your dog’s abdomen shortly after surgery, it could be part of the body healing itself and naturally-occurring inflammation taking place. However, if the lump seems to change in size and shape and is relatively soft to the touch, this is most likely a hernia and should be immediately checked out by a veterinarian.

Causes
Post-spaying herniascan develop as a result of improper surgical management by a veterinarian and/or staff. More common, however, is that the dog strains herself during a time of recovery, causing internal stitches to bust open.

Diagnosis
Hernias are diagnosed radiographically. X-rays are the most accurate means of diagnosing a hernia, as it gives the veterinarian a look at what’s occurring inside the body.

How do I Treat My Dog’s Post-Surgery Hernia?

Treatment
It’s important to get a veterinarian’s opinion. The first step should always be making an appointment. Even if the dog isn’t showing visible signs of discomfort, the hernia could become more severe and painful if it isn’t managed. The vet will know if the hernia needs immediate medical attention or will subside on its own with medication.

Recovery
If surgery is required to treat the hernia, you can expect a 4-6 weeks recovery period. During this time, you may have one to two check-ups with the vet as well as instructions to keep the dog from excessive activity and to administer anti-inflammatory medications.

Learn more about canine hernias here.

How is a Hernia in Dogs Similar to a Hernia in Humans and Other Pets?

While the pain involved in the post-ovariohysterectomy recovery process is already significant, developing a hernia at the same time may add to your pet’s discomfort. As cats are spayed the same way dogs are, they are in just as much risk of developing a hernia as well. Other commonalities include:

  • Most hernias, depending on their location and size of organ, will create a protrusion that can be detected externally.

  • Hernias in both humans and household pets can be surgically repaired by a doctor or veterinarian.

How are Hernias in Dogs Different from Hernias in Humans and Other Pets?

Perhaps surprisingly, there aren’t too many differences between hernias occurring in humans, dogs, and cats. The biggest differences are there frequency and type.

  • Hernias are probable for most mammals in the animal kingdom, but are most common in dogs when compared to other domesticated pets.

  • Perineal hernias are more common in dogs than cats.

  • Inguinal hernias are more common in human males than human females.

Case Study

A study discussed by veterinary medicine students at the University of Shiraz in Iran found that hormones in mice played a role in the development of some hernias. The referenced study took place in the 1970’s, and since has lead veterinarians to explore if hormones may affect the pathophysiologic make-up of intact (not spayed) dogs enough to make them more prone to hernias. There’s no irrefutable evidence showing this is the case, but discoveries often lead to more in the science and medical worlds.