Much like humans, dogs can suffer from hernias. An inguinal hernia is a condition in which the abdominal contents protrude through the inguinal canal or inguinal ring, an opening which occurs in the muscle wall in the groin area.
Inguinal hernia can occur in both dogs and cats.
Symptoms and Types
Inguinal hernias may be uncomplicated or complicated. A complicated hernia is one in which contents of the abdominal cavity have passed through the opening and become entrapped.
Symptoms seen with an uncomplicated inguinal hernia are:
Soft swelling in the groin area, which may occur on one or both sides of the body
Symptoms seen with a complicated inguinal hernia may include:
Swelling in the groin area, which may become painful and warm to the touch
Frequent attempts to urinate
Lack of appetite
In dogs, inguinal hernias may be acquired (not present at birth but developing later in life) or congenital (present at birth). Factors which predispose a dog to develop an inguinal hernia include trauma, obesity, and pregnancy.
Most inguinal hernias are uncomplicated and cause no symptoms other than a swelling in the groin area. However, if contents from the abdominal cavity (such as the bladder, a loop of intestines or the uterus) pass through the opening and become entrapped there, the situation can become life-threatening.
Inguinal hernias can usually be diagnosed by finding the swelling caused by the hernia on a physical examination. However, sometimes contrast radiographs (X-rays) or an abdominal ultrasound are needed to determine which abdominal contents, if any, are entrapped.