Inguinal Hernia Repair Surgery

Learning that your pet needs surgery can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are unsure of what the procedure entails. At Anicira, we work with pet parents to ensure that you are well-informed before your pet’s surgery. Our veterinary team provides compassionate care before, during, and after surgery to ensure that your pet is safe and comfortable.

What is an inguinal hernia?

An inguinal hernia is a protrusion of organs or tissues through the inguinal canal. The inguinal canal is the opening in the groin for blood vessels and nerves to exit the abdomen and extend down the leg.

What causes an inguinal hernia in a cat or a dog?

Inguinal hernia can be present from birth (congenital) or caused by trauma.

What can happen if an inguinal hernia is left untreated?

Left untreated, an inguinal hernia can grow and cause blood flow to be cut off to essential organs and abdominal contents. This can be painful and deadly.

Pre-Surgical Instructions

Admission Time – Bring your pet to Anicira at 7 am.
Pre-surgical exam – Your pet must be in good health and show no signs of sickness such as coughing, sneezing, or diarrhea.
Medical records – Please bring proof of rabies vaccination if you have not already provided this. If your cat or dog has not been previously vaccinated or lacks proof of vaccination, we will administer a rabies vaccine on the day of surgery. If you have not already sent your medical records, please bring all relevant medical records.

Feeding Instructions
Adult Dogs over 1 year Withhold food for all adult dogs after midnight the evening before surgery. Please ensure water is available at all times.
Adult Cats under 1 year Adult cats can have food without restriction of amount up until 6am the morning of surgery. Please ensure water is available at all times.
Puppies and Kittens under 1 year Feed a small meal (¼ of their typical breakfast) to all puppies and kittens on the morning of surgery. Please ensure water is available at all times.

Inguinal Hernia Repair Surgery

Before surgery, our veterinary team will perform a thorough pre-surgical examination to ensure your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia. It is strongly recommended that your pet receives pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure that no health concerns go undetected.

Your pet will be under general anesthesia. The surgical team will prepare the surgical site by shaving then cleaning the area to remove bacteria and decrease the risk of potential infection.

The surgeon will then repair the hernia by relocating the displaced organs and tissues back to their proper position and closing down the inguinal canal, preventing recurrence.

Caring for Your Pet After Inguinal Hernia Repair Surgery

Anesthesia may take 24 to 48 hours to wear off.

  • Your pet may be groggy or whiny during this time.
  • Keep your pet confined in a secure, quiet, and comfortable space. We recommend a crate or a small room.
  • Isolate them from other pets and children while recovering.

Make sure your pet wears their Elizabethan Collar (E-Collar / Cone)

  • Your pet’s surgical site will take 10 to 14 days to heal. During this period, they should wear an e-collar at all times.
  • Allowing your pet to lick their incision can lead to infection or dehiscence (opening of the incision).

Offer food & water after surgery

  • When your pet returns home, offer them food and water
  • Anesthesia may cause nausea, so your pet may not be interested in food
  • If vomiting occurs, wait 12 hours before offering more food.
  • Resume regular feeding the day after surgery. Your pet’s appetite should be back to normal within 24 hours.
  • If your pet refuses to eat, you may try offering a bland diet such as white rice and lean protein (for example, boiled chicken breast) while they regain a normal appetite.
  • Please do not feed your pet junk food, table scraps, or milk.

Give all medications as directed

  • Your pet will be sent home with oral pain medication. Please follow the instructions on the label.
  • If possible, please give the pain medication with food. If your pet has no appetite, please ensure they still take the pain medication.
  • OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol and Advil are toxic to pets. Please do not give these to your pet.

Check surgical incision daily for the first week

  • Your pet’s surgical site will be healing for 10-14 days.
  • What you see on the day of surgery is what we consider normal
  • Monitor for increased redness, swelling, discharge, or pulling apart of the incision.

Other shaved areas

  • Your pet may have shaved areas on one or more legs from where an IV catheter was placed and under the tail for monitoring equipment during anesthesia.
  • These areas may be irritated or bruised. If your pet is excessively licking, please use a taste deterrent spray or e-collar to prevent self-trauma.
  • If your pet went home with a brightly colored wrap on their leg, this should be removed 30 minutes after returning home.

Limit your pet’s activity and keep them clean, dry, and warm for 10 days after surgery.

  • Ensure your pet is supervised around all potential hazards (including stairs)
  • Pets should be kept indoors so they can stay clean, dry, and warm.
  • Dogs should be walked outside on a leash to urinate and defecate. No off-leash activity during the entire recovery period.
  • No running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity.
  • Do not bathe your pet or have it groomed during the recovery period.

How long does it take to recover from Inguinal Hernia Repair?

Typically, pets fully recover within 10-14 days of surgery.

Potential complications

Complications from inguinal hernia repair surgery are rare. If your pet experiences these issues after surgery, please contact Anicira.

  • Redness, swelling, or discharge at the surgical site, which could be signs of infection
  • Dehiscence – both sides of the surgical site should be touching. Watch for any gapping.
  • Recurrence of the hernia. Since we cannot close the inguinal canal completely, the hole must be left slightly open, allowing for the potential of recurrence.

Rare, but Serious Complications of Inguinal Hernia Repair Surgery

  • Strangulation or entrapment of vessels and nerves during surgery. Please monitor for any signs of nerve damage or abnormal color or coolness of the limb post-operatively.
  • Intestinal leakage and/or perforation causing septic peritonitis.

Please contact Anicira, your primary care veterinarian, or an emergency clinic if any of the following occur:

  • Pale gums
  • Severe pain, depression or weakness
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Decreased appetite for more than 24 hours
  • Lethargy lasting more than 24 hours