Shih Tzu puppies (Photo: Flickr/mick124)
Q: Are hernias common in puppies? Our two little 7-week-olds (Shih Tzu) each have a hernia.
A: Umbilical hernias are not rare, but not extremely common, either. They are believed to be congenital (inherited) in about 90% of cases, so dogs that produce puppies with hernias once will probably produce them in future litters.
How serious the hernias are will depend on the size of the opening into the body. If the hernia opening is large enough that the intestines could protrude and be trapped, the dangerous condition of intestinal strangulation can result. Your vet can determine the size of the opening with a physical examination.
Small hernias may repair themselves in puppies. However, if this hasn't happened by about 6 months of age, it probably won't. In females, most hernias are repaired at the time the puppy is spayed. In males, small hernia may be left alone, but larger ones have to be surgically repaired. Males with hernias are also more likely to have a retained testicle, which would need to be removed surgically. Large hernias are more risky and may need to be repaired in younger puppies.
Hernias may be minor, or they may be potentially life-threatening. Here is a link to an article that explains in greater depth all aspects to be considered.
The best thing to do is to take the puppies to your vet to determine how significant these hernias are. I hope they will be small ones.
-- Answer from Anna N., a biologist on JustAnswer.
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