Inguinal Hernias

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Inguinal Hernias

A hernia is a weakness or opening within a muscle that allows other tissues to pass through. Inguinal hernias occur on the abdomen, usually on the groin inside one of the rear legs. In inguinal hernias, tissues like subcutaneous fat or parts of the intestine can bulge through an opening in the muscle and rest just below the surface of the skin.

Muscles within the wall of the intestine are responsible for moving food and water through the organ. Waves of contractions called peristalsis propel the contents along the length of the intestine. When an obstruction is encountered, like a hernia, the peristaltic waves reverse direction and move the food backward through the digestive tract causing vomiting.

At this point, an animal may still drink water but will most likely stop eating. If the tissue seems stuck in place, it is called an incarcerated hernia. When the tissue of an incarcerated hernia loses its blood supply, it becomes a strangulated hernia. Strangulated hernias can quickly become a medical emergency.


Symptoms inguinal hernia:
A soft bulge or swelling in the groin area

Symptoms of a incarcerated or strangulated inguinal hernia:
The bulge or swelling in the groin area may be sensitive and warm to the touch
Abdominal pain
Straining to urinate
Loss of appetite

If you see these types of symptoms, please don't wait to talk to your vet. 


The treatment for inguinal hernias is surgery. The surgery for an inguinal hernia involves manually pushing the contents of the hernia back through the muscle wall and then stitching the muscle back together to prevent future rupture. In some cases, a doctor may also attach a piece of mesh to the muscle in order to strengthen it.

In the case of strangulated hernias, emergency surgery may be necessary. Strangulated tissue, devoid of blood supply, will begin to die producing toxins that are released into the animal’s body. Liver and/or kidney failure are quite common in these situations. Without treatment, the animal will usually die within 24 to 48 hours from organ failure.


Hernias are common but not preventable beyond not breeding animals that have had a hernia or had a surgical repair for a hernia. Adult animals that produce offspring with hernias should not be bred again.
Posted Friday, November 13, 2015