What is a canine perineal hernia?

A perineal hernia (also known as a perineal rupture) is when an internal part of your pet’s body pushes through a weakness in the muscle in the pelvic diaphragm. These hernias begin to bulge when they fill with fat or abdominal tissue, and can cause your animal pain and discomfort.


What are the symptoms?

Although they can affect both cats and dogs, perineal hernias are most common in older, male dogs. Some breeds are more likely to develop a perineal hernia than others, including Boston Terriers, Corgis, Daschunds, Boxers and Collies, amongst others.

Common symptoms to look out for include:

  • Perineal swelling or bruising
  • Pain or discomfort around the affected area
  • Painful defecation
  • Constipation
  • Unable to empty the bladder properly
  • Altered tail carriage

 

border collie looking away

 

The diagnosis

A rectal examination, which may require sedation, can help identify the cause of your pet’s perineal hernia, for example, tissue disease or inflammation of the urinary tract. X-rays and ultrasounds may also be used to allow the vet to see the internal area around the hernia, allowing them to rule out more serious underlying conditions such as benign hyperplasia (enlargement), tumours or abscesses.

 

How do we treat perineal hernias?

If your pet is in a stable condition, perineal hernia surgery is usually recommended to repair the damage. Most cases require repair of the rupture, sometimes combined with castration. If there was an underlying cause of the hernia, additional treatment prior to or alongside the surgery will be needed.

Some ruptures are repaired using muscles from the pelvic diaphragm, although many require movement of additional muscle into the area to close the opening. Following your pet’s operation, their rectum is will be very sensitive, and laxatives or stool softeners may be prescribed to offer them comfort when defecating. They may also be placed on a broad-spectrum antibiotic to reduce the risk of infection.