Perineal Hernia

Filed Under: Dogs, General Care

Has your dog suddenly developed a soft swelling to the side of the rectum? Has your dog been straining to defecate? Is your dog a male that hasn’t been neutered? Then that swelling may not be your dog’s anal glands, but rather a perineal hernia.

The perineum is the area of real estate on the body between the rectum and reproductive organs. A hernia develops due to a defect or weakness in the muscles of the perineal area and the pelvic diaphragm. The pelvic diaphragm is the connective tissue that holds the muscles, the pelvis, the rectum, and the urogenital canals together.

These hernias are most commonly seen in Boston terriers, collies, boxers, Pekingese, and mixed breeds thereof. Approximately 97% of these hernias occur in male dogs, of which 95% have not been neutered. The highest incidence of hernias occurs in males from 6 to 14 years of age with a peak in occurrence from 7 to 9 years of age. Approximately 2/3 of all cases are unilateral (only happens to one side), while 1/3 of the pets will herniate on both sides. The propensity for development of perineal hernias in intact males is believed to be due to the effects of testosterone and prostatic disease. Neutering the dog at the time of surgery will help prevent the appearance of an additional hernia on the opposite side. Male dogs are predisposed to herniation on the right side, but why the right side is more commonly affected has not yet been determined.

It is not uncommon for the hernial sac to contain loops of intestines, the prostate, or even the bladder. If the pet is straining to urinate, emergency surgery may be indicated.

The most common clinical signs associated with a perineal hernia are constipation and tenesmus, or straining. The majority of these dogs will also have an obvious swelling below and to the side of the anus. Most of these pets will require surgical correction to repair the hernia. If the pet has a surgical risk, stool softeners and enemas may be tried, but the response to conservative therapy is typically unrewarding and the condition will often deteriorate.

Complications following surgery can include fecal incontinence, nerve paralysis, rectal prolapse, and excessive straining. A surgical failure rate of 10% to 46% is not uncommon -- especially when straining is not controlled following surgery.

References:

Bojrab, Joseph. Current Techniques in Small Animal Surgery. 3rd Edition. Lea & Febiger, 1990. Pp. 442-449.

Topics: hernia, soft tissue

Symptoms: straining

Similar entries

  • Perianal fistulas or anal furunculosis is a chronic, progressive disease characterized by ulceration of the perianal tissue (tissue surrounding the anus) in the dog. The clinical signs of perianal fistulas may be present for years, gradually worsening over time. A fistula is defined as an abnormal passage or communication between an internal organ and the surface of the body or between two organs, and it is typically seen as multiple draining tracts, in this case surrounding the rectum.

  • Have you suddenly noticed a red mass in the corner of your young dog’s eye? Are you concerned that there is a tumor in the corner of the eye when just a day ago everything looked normal? You could be dealing with a common problem in young dogs and puppies, especially in the cocker spaniel, commonly known as hyperplasia of the nictitans gland, “cherry eye”, or prolapse of the glands of the third eyelid.

  • When is the best age to have your pet spayed or neuteredShould you even get your dog spayed or neutered?  Does having your dog or cat spayed or neutered enhance their life and prevent the onset of disease?   The answer may be more complicated than you think.  Do you think there are only advantages to having your pet altered?  Guess again.  There may be a larger downside than you expected. 

  • Has your dog recently been diagnosed with a mast cell tumor?  Has your veterinarian given you a rather gloomy prognosis?  Take heart:  Pfizer Animal Health™ has a new chemotherapy drug coming out specifically for the treatment of mast cell tumors in the dog.  

  • Does your dog have a swelling of the leg that is painful when touched?   Is your dog suddenly lame?  Can’t remember a traumatic incidence your pet has been subjected to recently?   Is your dog over 50 pounds in weight?  If the answer to most of these questions is yes, you should take your pet to his veterinarian.   Large and giant breeds of dogs are particularly susceptible to osteosarcoma which is a highly aggressive and malignant tumor or cancer of the bone.  Radiographs will clearly demonstrate if you have to be concerned about this type of tumor.