How Does a Dog Get a Hernia?

Hernias can affect both male and female dogs. Although they can be corrected, hernias should be examined by your veterinarian ASAP.

How does a dog get a hernia?
This Labradoodle was born with an umbilical hernia.

A hernia is a tear in the abdominal wall and muscle; fat or muscle tissue can push through this tear. Hernias can affect both male and female dogs. Although it can be corrected, it is important to get a hernia looked at by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

How does a dog get a hernia? There are three basic causes of hernias in dogs:

  1. Birth defect.
  2. Inherited: These hernias occur in puppies younger than 1 and are usually inherited.
  3. Trauma: Any form of trauma (for example, getting hit by a car) can cause a hernia in a dog, adult or puppy.

There are four main types of hernia found in dogs.

  1. Umbilical: This is the most common type. The hernia forms in the middle of the abdominal wall (over the belly button). Sometimes the opening will close as the puppy grows. Often, a puppy will not have any harmful effects from a small umbilical hernia. However, if the hernia is big enough for the intestine to push through, surgery will be needed.
  2. Inguinal: This usually occurs in pregnant or constipated females. It’s caused by a gap between the abdominal wall and the hind leg muscles, and can also occur in male dogs. Inguinal hernias can be the result of a birth defect.
  3. Perineal: These are found in older dogs, especially males that have not been castrated. They generally occur around the anus.
  4. Diaphragmatic: This can be either inherited or caused from an injury. Causing a tear in the muscular wall between the abdominal and chest cavities, these hernias are dangerous, because they can allow the abdominal organs to enter the chest. There is no visible evidence of this type of hernia; it can be diagnosed only via an X-ray.

If your dog develops an abdominal hernia, chances are you will be able to see the rip, at the belly button or inside the rear legs. When intestinal blockage or strangulation of tissues are caused from a hernia, your pet may have loss of appetite as well as vomiting.

See a Veterinarian

A veterinarian is the only one who can diagnose the injury your dog has and tell you if it poses a health risk.

According to Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB, BS, a veterinarian with Purina One, small hernias usually pose no problems. However, depending on the size and location of the tear, intestines could get stuck in the opening. In that case, it could be serious, requiring immediate veterinarian attention. Surgery would be the best option for repair.

How does a dog get a hernia? Whether the injury is a birth defect, inherited or caused by trauma, having your pet checked by a veterinarian is a must. Untreated hernias are sometimes fatal. The only treatment or cure is surgery.

The sunny side in this is that once your pet has been treated, he can lead a normal life.

Additional Resources

Photo: orbital_alan/Flickr

Gayle Hickman

View posts by Gayle Hickman
Gayle Hickman has been researching and writing about pet behaviors since 2011. In addition to Petful, her articles have appeared on Reader's Digest, Yahoo Shine and WebVet, to name a few.

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