Diaphragmatic hernia in dogs: causes, symptoms and treatment

Diaphragmatic hernia in dogs: causes, symptoms and treatment

Diaphragmatic hernia in dogs

To understand a diaphragmatic hernia in dogs, it is necessary to understand what the diaphragm is. This is the muscle that separates the abdomen and the chest. When this thin muscle is torn or disrupted, the conditions is a diaphragmatic hernia or diaphragmatic rupture. A form of diaphragmatic hernia known as peritoneal-pericardial diaphragmatic hernia (PPDH) is more common in puppies and kittens and is considered separately from the type caused by a trauma.

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Causes of diaphragmatic hernia in dogs

The most common cause of diaphragmatic hernia in dogs is a blunt physical trauma. This type of trauma can occur when hit by a car, when falling from a very high place, or a kick or blow to the abdomen. The congenital type of the condition described earlier, is less common.

Symptoms of diaphragmatic hernia in dogs

The symptoms present in the dog afflicted will depend on the severity of the condition. If the trauma or injury is sudden and sharp, the dog will have difficulty breathing. The severity of a hernia will determine the degree of labored breathing which can be from barely detectable to fatal.

If the dog’s stomach gets trapped in the hernia, this will bloat and worsen the condition. Some signs of a more mild, longterm case a weight loss might actually be more noticeable than a respiratory condition.

In the case of dogs that were born with the condition, they might not show any signs or may display signs associated with their digestive and respiratory functions.


When you take your dog to the veterinarian, the first thing they will notice is sounds coming from the lungs or the digestive tract. Very frequently, they will take X-rays to find changes in the shape of the diaphragm and abdominal organs misplaced. Sometimes, the diagnosis includes a specialized X-ray that uses dye to highlight the digestive organs. The only effective treatment for this hernia is surgical repair. The vet will give you indications on post-operatory care.

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