How Can Diaphragmatic Hernia Repair Keep Your Pet Lively?

Diaphragmatic Hernia Repair

Almost every pet owner clearly understand and even experience the immediate joy that comes with spending time with companion animals, particularly dogs. However, in addition to the pleasure of snuggling up to these furry pals, there are countless benefits of mental and physical health. Furthermore, many studies have proved the upsides of the human-animal bond. 

According to the experts, pets, particularly dogs and cats play a crucial role in reducing depression, anxiety, and stress levels in humans. In addition, they ease the loneliness, encourage physical activity and improve the cardiovascular health of their owners. Hence, a dog can undoubtedly add real joy to your life and give unconditional love. But in return, how do you treat your animals? The answer is simple; caring owners must pay special attention to the health of their pets.  

In return for our pets’ love, it's our job to keep our pets healthy, fit, and happy. So, pet owners should walk an extra mile to keep their dog or cat tiptop shape. High-quality veterinary care sets the foundation of the pet’s overall health. So, get started by finding a trustworthy veterinarian and take your dog for routine wellness examinations at least once a year. 

In addition to the medical emergency, pet owners must completely understand the diseases that require elective procedures. First, however, this article will discuss the diaphragmatic hernia repair in detail.

What is a Diaphragmatic Hernia? 

The muscular separation between the chest and abdominal cavities, which assists in respiration, is called the diaphragm. However, the condition, i.e., diaphragmatic hernia or rupture, is the tearing or disruption of this thin muscle. Furthermore, a peritoneal-pericardial diaphragmatic hernia (PPDH) in the form of the diaphragmatic hernia is usually present in pets by birth. Most of the time, it's due to the defective fetus development. Therefore, this type of hernia is usually common in puppies and kittens. 

PPDH is different from diaphragmatic hernia or rupture that resulted after abdominal trauma. In the case of the diaphragm tear or disruption, intestines, liver, and stomach may migrate to the chest cavity, which presses the lungs and may result in the inappropriate functioning of the lungs. That ultimately results in respiratory distress and difficulties in breathing. Furthermore, the abdominal tissues can also negatively impact the heart muscle and lead to abnormal heart rhythms. Sometimes, fluid leaks into the chest, worsening the lungs and heart functions. 

Potential Causes

The most common reasons behind diaphragmatic hernia may include; 
Blunt trauma to the abdomen: This type of trauma usually occurs if the dog falls from the height, a vehicle accident, etc. According to a study, approximately 85% of cases documented are due to motor vehicle accidents. As we have already discussed, congenital diaphragmatic hernias is also a condition, but its a less common in pets. 

Signs and Symptoms 

How can a pet owner get to know if the diaphragmatic hernia is present in the dog? There are some particular signs and symptoms that appear due to this condition. Before diving into further discussion, let it be clear that signs of this disease depend highly on the severity of the herniation. 

For instance, there may be no potential signs appearing for small disruptions or pets having a diaphragmatic hernia by birth. However, pet owners notice slight breathing difficulties, particularly when stressed or have gastrointestinal upset. However, if abdominal content migrates into the lungs, the following symptoms may appear: 

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Inappriotae (shallow, rapid) breathing pattern
  • Abnormal breathing posture 
  • Vomiting or anorexia
  • Respiratory distress
  • Impacted heart rhythm


  • Pet patients may require a quick chest tap if the trauma recently occurs, also known as thoracocentesis. This way, fluid is removed from the chest cavity and may provide quick but temporary relief to the dogs. Once the patient is stabled, then the professionals take further steps. However, surgery is the only way to treat and repair the diaphragmatic hernia. 
  • Surgical procedures are performed immediately if the patients face acute breathing difficulty because the stomach is herniated into the chest cavity. In such a situation, pet patients can’t breathe comfortably until the abdominal content is removed from the lungs. 
  • Veterinary professionals use a needle to pass through the chest wall into the stomach during the surgical procedure. This method decompresses the stomach and paves the way to further procedures. 
  • A ventral midline enters the abdominal cavity, retracting the organs back into exact places and, more importantly, sutures the tear in the diaphragm. 
  • Then surgeons place a tube to remove blood, fluid, or air that may accumulate in the chest cavity. 
  • If the blood supply is compromised, some patients may need a portion of an abdominal organ. Bleeding may be a potential complication in such surgical procedures, particularly if the herniation is adhesion or chronic. 
  • If the herniation is cognitional (by birth), surgery must be administered immediately to prevent organ entrapment.  Most of the time, congenital diaphragmatic hernias are discovered during the spaying of the pets and are treated at that time. 

What Is The Prognosis?

Even after the successful surgery, your pet may suffer through the re-expansion pulmonary edema. However, to minimize the risk of this condition, the veterinary recommends giving a guarded prognosis after a successful surgery.


A hospital stay after surgery depends on the severity of the condition. For example, tubes for fluid removal and feeding may need to stay for a couple of days, and your dogs require special care and attention. Pain management is very important to ensure a quick recovery after surgery. 

Most animals begin to feel better after surgery and may want to be active and playful. However, its the responsibility of the pet owners to ensure the avoidance of the activity as a part of the post-operative care. The general rule of thumb is to make sure that you consult and choose the ACVS board-certified veterinary surgeon to execute this surgery.