Can A Hernia Kill A Dog?

correct answerThe Short Answer is:

You should consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has a hernia. Strangulation and loss of blood supply to the organs passing through the muscle can make hernias life-threatening.

In this research you will know the answer to the query “Can A Hernia Kill A Dog?“.

Its normal to be concerned when you see a soft squishy mass bulging out of the abdomen of your dog.

Hernias however are fairly common in dogs including puppies and they are totally treatable despite the fact that they can be dangerous.

Hernias may even heal themselves in some cases but that cannot be guaranteed. The purpose of this research is to discuss the most common types of hernias in dogs why they occur and how they can be treated.

Our focus will be on symptoms that indicate a problem that is getting worse and requires quick medical attention. Act now!

What are the most common types of hernias in dogs?

Hernias occur when there is a tear in the abdominal muscles which allows an internal organ or fatty tissue to pass through. 

Dogs can develop five different types of hernias some of which cause only mild symptoms while others are more dangerous and require medical attention immediately.

It is important to know that not all hernias can be seen with the naked eye. X-rays are sometimes required to detect a hernia mostly when a concerned pet parent takes the dog to the vet to see whats wrong.

Lets examine each of the types of hernias.

Umbilical hernias

As its name suggests this type of hernia occurs in the area where the umbilical cord used to be.

It may not cause your pup any discomfort to have a soft bulging mass near the belly button.

Its usually a portion of the intestine pushing through the hole in the abdominal wall but it might also be a lump of fat.

Diaphragmatic hernias

During this scenario the liver or part of the stomach pushes into the chest cavity squeezing the lungs.

Developing breathing problems or coughing may alert a pet owner to the fact that something is wrong with the animal.

Hernias of this type usually require X-rays so that the doctor can make a diagnosis.

Hiatal hernias

Hernias of this type are somewhat similar to those of the diaphragm as they both involve the same muscle.

During a hiatal hernia the stomach pushes against the diaphragms hiatus which is the small opening that allows the esophagus to pass from the chest through the muscle and attach to the stomach.

Hiatal hernias are typically caused by trauma such as a kick to the dogs chest.

As for Bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds Hiatal hernias are a congenital condition in their case.

Perineal hernia

When the muscles of the pelvis are torn a perineal hernia will occur.

There is a hole here that allows some abdominal contents to pass through to the dogs anus. The most common type of hernia in intact male dogs older than 5 is this type.

Certain breeds including Welsh Corgis Boston Terriers Boxers and Collies are more prone to developing perineal hernias.

You may want to have him examined for a possible hernia if you notice that your dog strains to poop even after changing his diet.

Inguinal hernias

Hernias of the inguinal region often produce a bulge in the inner wall of the rear leg near the point where the leg connects with the body.

It is often just pieces of the intestine pushing against the tear but if the hole becomes large enough the bladder may herniate. Female older dogs are more likely to suffer from inguinal hernias especially during pregnancy.

You should take your dog to a vet as soon as possible if this is the case.

What are the main causes of hernias in dogs?

You cannot prevent almost all types of hernias because they have genetic origins. Traumatic hernias like diaphragmatic hernias and Hiatal hernias caused when an animal is hit by a car can also occur congenitally.

The owners of dogs with congenital hernias are usually advised to spay or neuter them so that they do not pass this condition on to the next generation.

Which hernias are dangerous and can kill?

The severity of a hernia can also be determined.

Hernias can be reduced when the dog lies down or when they are gently pushed back into the abdomen.

An abdomen lining or fatty tissue protrudes in this case.

Hernias of this type may or may not cause discomfort and are not medical emergencies.

The tear however can grow wider if left untreated allowing organs or intestinal loops to pass through.

It is important to assume that whatever slipped through the tear is stuck in a non-reducible hernia which cannot be pushed back.

Hernias of this type are very painful so do not try to push it back when he shows signs of distress.

Hernias that are non-reducible are very dangerous because the portions of an organ that bulge will become tightly trapped becoming a strangulated hernia.

As a result the affected organ might be deprived of blood supply resulting in tissue death and gangrene. Surgical intervention is necessary immediately since this is a life-threatening condition.

How much does it cost to fix a hernia?

When you take your dog in for spaying or neutering this can be easily fixed if your dog has a minor reducible hernia.

Both issues can be dealt with by the vet at the same time thus eliminating the need for additional anesthesia.

This will also benefit your dog since he would not have to deal with the stress twice.

Shanias surgery involves cleaning any scar tissue suturing the hole and sometimes placing a mesh to strengthen the area and prevent further tears.

Repairing a minor hernia can cost between $150 and $400.

A strangulated hernia for instance will cost around $500 if you go in for an emergency procedure.

In the worst-case scenario the whole thing may cost tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition to more complicated surgery your pet might also need extensive lab work or to stay overnight in the hospital to receive IV fluids and antibiotics. 

Can some hernias be treated at home?

According to conventional wisdom if a dog has a small hernia less than 1 cm (1/4in) it can be left alone for a few days to see if it heals.

As the puppy grows up theres a good chance the tear in the abdominal wall will close up on its own.

You will need to monitor your dog closely however. Additionally you can check to see if it is a reducible hernia.

The bulge should be gently pushed back in.

Any sign of pain in your dog should be left alone and it should be seen by a vet immediately.

You might also hear from the vet that surgery isnot needed right away. Hernias of the umbilical cord or inguinal canal are considered minor.

Small inguinal hernias can heal on their own in male dogs. In females especially pregnant ones the tear should be repaired before it becomes larger.

Hernias are often not painful but you should be aware of symptoms that indicate a more serious issue such as:

  • Throwing up
  • Appetite loss
  • Cramped
  • Fever
  • Numbness in the legs
  • Lethargic

Whenever you see any of these symptoms you should consult a vet right away. Upon breaking down of the affected tissue bacterial toxins can spread rapidly through your dogs body. Within 24 to 48 hours this can lead to death.

Should you buy a puppy that has an umbilical hernia?

How much you want the puppy will depend on how much you want it. A hernia in the umbilical cord can be easily repaired and recurrence is extremely unlikely.

It is best to wait and see what happens if the puppy has a small umbilical hernia that is not bothering him. Before the puppy turns 3 or 4 months of age such hernias can close spontaneously.

In case it does not the vet will take care of it when you take him in for neutering and the cost should not be significantly higher. These types of surgeries are extremely rare so the puppy should be back to normal within a few days. 


You cannot ignore the existence of a hernia in your dog regardless of the type. Hernias that are only minor do not constitute medical emergencies. These hernias usually heal on their own in young dogs. You should still consult the vet before waiting. 

Once your puppy is neutered or spayed umbilical hernias may go away on their own.

Untreated hernias however can lead to strangulation and gangrene both of which are deadly. 

If you want to read more about dog health tips read here: Dog Health Tips and Tricks.

Can A Hernia Kill A Dog? (Watch Video)

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