Pet Abdominal 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 abdominal hernia, and what are the symptoms?

An abdominal hernia occurs when your pet’s abdominal contents push through a hole in the abdominal wall muscles.

Common symptoms of an abdominal hernia include:

  • Bulge in the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Straining to urinate and/or defecate
  • Constipation

How is an abdominal hernia diagnosed?

The veterinarian will palpate your pet’s abdomen searching for any irregularities. Additional diagnostic tools such as radiographs or ultrasounds may assist in diagnosing an abdominal hernia.

How did my pet develop an abdominal hernia?

Genetics are likely the cause of your pet’s abdominal hernia. Trauma can also cause a hernia.

Can an abdominal hernia heal without surgery? What happens if an abdominal hernia goes untreated?

Left untreated, serious complications can develop as a result of an abdominal hernia. The hernia may become even larger, leading to further discomfort. Part of your pet’s intestines may become entrapped and unable to receive proper blood flow leading to bowel obstruction, severe pain, and more complications.

Pre-Surgical Instructions

Admission Time – Bring your pet to Anicira at 7 am.
Food – You may feed your pet a quarter of their normal breakfast no later than 6 am.
Water – Your pet may have water up until the time of the surgery.
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.

Pet Abdominal 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 and then cleaning the area to remove bacteria and decrease risk of potential infection.

The surgeon will then repair the hernia by closing the abnormal hole in the body wall and the surgical site is closed.

How long does it take for a pet to recover from an abdominal hernia repair surgery?

Typically, it takes 10 to 14 days for a pet to recover.

Caring for Your Pet After an Abdominal Hernia Repair Surgery

Anesthesia may take 24 to 48 hours to wear off.

  • Your pet may be groggy or whiny during this time period.
  • 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 and scarring.

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 normal 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 is being 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 that 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 as well as 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.

Avoid strenuous activities for four weeks

  • Rest is important for recovery!
  • Pets may participate in short walks before then

Rare, but serious complications of abdominal hernia repair surgery

Complications from an abdominal 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
  • Straining to urinate
  • Bleeding
  • Recurrence of hernia

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