An inguinal hernia describes a condition, in which parts of abdominal body organs slip through the inguinal canal, a small opening in the lower stomach wall, flanked by fibrous ligaments.
Mostly, a defined lump appears in the inguinal gap. When palpating it feels soft and the content feels movable. Frequently, the content can also be displaced under the skin. A skilled hand may possibly feel parts of the prolapsed organ - in most cases a piece of the intestine or bladder. The lump may increasingly feel warm. An inguinal hernia evolves particularly frequently with younger animals and more frequently with she-dogs than with male dogs. The same organ prolapse may by the way also develop due to an umbilical hernia. Mostly, in the center of the center line of the abdomen, a small soft lump is positioned. As a result of an inguinal hernia, in many cases no symptoms of the disease develop. It may however be that a piece of the intestine becomes contracted in the hernial orifice. In such a case impairments of the general condition, absence of appetite and also pain result. Then it is about a clinical emergency which is to be treated as fast as possible.
The inguinal cleft can be (genetically) too wide and like that promote a rupture. Inguinal hernias may also occur as result of blunt traumata (impacts, hints) in accidents.
The treatment depends of the severity of the prolapse. In most cases the prolapsed organ is brought back into the abdominal cavity by means of a small operation and the inguinal cleft is closed with a suture. However, if symptoms of disease exist, quick reaction is required. Otherwise there is the risk that the stuck intestine will die off. Then danger to life is imminent!
Large inguinal hernias can occur after blunt traumas, e.g. car accidents and bite wounds. In these cases always seek immediate medical advice. Your vet will examine the extent of the injury and provide treatment options. Congenital or spontaneous inguinal hernia are often smaller. Generally speaking, congenital and spontaneous hernia are usually no bigger than an olive, and gradually grow larger over a longer period of time, usually weeks or months. Provided that your dog is in overall good health, and the swelling/hernia does not appear red or painful, or show any other signs of inflammation, inguinal hernias do not necessarily qualify as a clinical emergency, and can be examined at your next scheduled visit with your veterinarian. If you have any doubts about the health of your dog, always have a vet examine the hernia and provide treatment options.