Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy



or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

PetMD Seal

Hernia (Hiatal) in Dogs

Hiatal Hernia

 

A hernia is most likely to occur in puppies less than a year old and is usually inherited (congenital). However, trauma may also bring on an acquired hiatal hernia, and this can occur at any age. A hernia occurs when one part of the body protrudes through a gap or opening into another part. A hiatal hernia, specifically, takes place at the opening of the diaphragm where the food pipe joins the stomach. Part of the stomach pushes through the opening, and a hernia is formed. Although this can occur in any breed or age, and with both genders, there does appear to be a predisposition for male animals, and with Chinese Shar-Pei and English bulldogs more than other breeds.

 

Symptoms

 

  • Regurgitation
  • Coughing
  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Shortness of breath

 

Causes

 

  • Congenital, especially with puppies under a year old
  • Acquired secondary to trauma or increased effort to inhale
  • Concurrent — the lower esophageal sphincter slides into the thoracic cavity and allows gastric reflux into the esophagus, causing inflammation of the esophagus

 

Diagnosis

 

X-rays may show soft-tissue density in the region of the esophageal opening (hiatus), but they may not reveal lesions. However, an enlarged esophagus can be detected using X-ray imaging. Contrast exams can show the esophagus as it is joined to the stomach and may reveal the abnormalities that are causing the problems. Your doctor can also perform an exam called an esophagoscopy, by which an internal scope is used to detect inflammation, and possibly show the end (terminal) of the esophagus sliding into the thorax.

 

Diagnosis of hiatal hernia is based on examination and observation of one or more of the following manifestations of the condition:

 

  • Foreign body in the esophagus
  • Abnormal tissue growth in the esophagus
  • Inflammation of the esophagus
  • Enlargement of the lower esophagus
  • Protrusion of the stomach into the esophagus
  • A foreign body in the digestive tract
  • Abnormal tissue growth in the stomach
  • Inflammation of the stomach

 

 

Treatment

 

Surgical treatment may be necessary if your veterinarian finds the need to close the opening (hiatus), or needs to attach the stomach to the abdominal wall so that it does not protrude further. Antibiotics and therapeutic breathing treatments may be necessary if aspiration pneumonia develops as the result of associated breathing abnormalities. Your veterinarian can prescribe drugs that will promote digestion and increase the tone of the sphincter in the lower esophagus. For example, medications such as cimetidine will decrease the acidity of the reflux, and promote healing of the damaged esophagus tissue.

 

But, not all hiatal hernias require treatment. Conservative therapy can be successful for controlling symptoms, and feeding small but frequent portions of a low-fat diet may also control symptoms. 

 

Living and Management

 

If surgery is required for your dog, you will need to follow through with visits to your veterinarian for after care treatment. This is true even if you are managing the hiatal hernia from home. Aspiration pneumonia is one of the possible long term complications related to a hiatal hernia, so you will need to be watchful for signs of this. If you do see symptoms of pneumonia, you will need to take your dog to the veterinarian immediately, as this is a condition that can quickly progress. Some dogs may have a recurrence of all symptoms, in which case you and your veterinarian will need to go back to square one to rule out other causes and settle on a treatment plan that will work.

 

 

Related Articles

Bone Inflammation (Hypertrophic ...
Hypertrophic osteodystrophy is a disease of the front limbs in large-breed puppies....
READ MORE
Hereditary, Non-Inflammatory Muscular Disease...
Muscular Dystrophy is an inherited, progressive, and non-inflammatory degenerative...
READ MORE
Muscle Contraction Disease (Myoclonus) in ...
The term "myoclonus" is used to denote a condition in which a portion of a muscle,...
READ MORE

Do you have an emergency kit for your pet(s)?

  • Lifetime Credits:
  • Today's Credits:
Hurry Before All Seats are Taken!
Enroll
Be an A++ Pet Parent! Take fun & free courses to earn badges & certifications. Choose a course»
Search dog Articles

 

Latest In Dog Nutrition

Five Life-Lengthening Health Tips for Your ...
Anyone who has ever had a dog or cat wishes just one thing — that he or she has a...
READ MORE
5 Reasons Life Stage Diets Help Improve Pet ...
Balanced and complete nutrition is important for any animal. However, the nutritional...
READ MORE
How Obesity May Shorten Your Pet's Lifespan
Obesity is a nationwide epidemic for our pets. Unfortunately, being obese can shorten...
READ MORE
Around the Web
MORE FROM PETMD.COM