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My Dog's Experience With Perineal Hernia

Maria Cecilia has a passion for dogs. Peso is her dog whom she loves eternally, and she dedicates all doggy articles to him.

Taken in 2008, during one of our daily dog-walking activities to help him build up his strength.

Taken in 2008, during one of our daily dog-walking activities to help him build up his strength.

Perineal Hernia in Dogs

I decided to start an article about perineal hernia so that fellow dog owners with the same experience can find a place where they can ask an existing human who has taken care of a dog with the same ailment.

When my dog, Peso, was diagnosed in 2008, the internet and Peso's veterinarians were my primary sources of information. Although they provided good information, my heart was still yearning for something else that even I couldn't tell at that time.

Then I realized that I wanted to speak to a dog owner who took care of a dog diagnosed with a perineal hernia, but I was not lucky to find one on the internet. Someone shared her story, but there was no follow-up, and she did not respond when I commented on the site where the story was posted.

Now I would like to be that person to those who need enlightenment. I would like to be their emotional support. I wish to give them hope and encouragement.

So I decided to post my dog's journey. I will give my best to answer to help you understand your pet's situation.

Your Own Experience Will Vary

I cannot discuss in detail how the surgery was done, nor will I try to explain the medical procedures done to Peso. Only veterinarians can explain it. This article is about my personal experience as Peso's human. I will be sharing my dog's journey and what I did to help him. I will be writing about post-surgery care, procedures done to him (again not the surgery in detail), and the food I gave him to make his diet well-balanced.


How I Found Out About My Dog's Ailment

I never knew about this ailment until a veterinarian told me about it in late 2007. Peso was seven years old when I observed him having difficulty putting his poop out, even if I gave him a soft diet, a stool softener medicine, and lots of water. The poor dog had a hard time and at his worst, he couldn't release even a small piece. The next time I brought him to his veterinarian, an enema was performed to remove the impacted stool that stuck up in the space developed by the hernia.

Enema Procedure to Remove the Impacted Stool

My dog had a hard time putting his poop out and he was feeling pain too. An enema was performed to eliminate the impacted stool

My dog had a hard time putting his poop out and he was feeling pain too. An enema was performed to eliminate the impacted stool

Peso was sedated at this point so he won't struggle during the process.

Peso was sedated at this point so he won't struggle during the process.

Sedation Is Not Always an Option for Difficult Dogs

Difficult dogs are hyper dogs that react violently during treatments, but depending on the style of the veterinarians, sedation may not be necessary. The second veterinarian from a different clinic was able to perform enema with Peso even though I was the only one controlling my dog. She said dogs are more threatened with too many people trying to stop him. Peso's third veterinarian, from another clinic too, just removed the stool using his finger.

A sign that his muscle is stretching

A sign that his muscle is stretching

Hesitation to Bring Peso to Surgery

Since the ailment was new to me, I hesitated to bring my dog to surgery. The veterinarian said only surgery can correct it and there is a possibility of recurrence. I was neither convinced nor I was in denial that my dog needed to undergo an operation. Aside from his difficulty putting his poop out, I did not see anything wrong with him; his appetite was good and he was clever and playful.

I also feared the possible effects of anesthesia; the veterinarians always have this waiver for the owner to sign before surgery, which frightened me more. Peso was already seven years old then and I was wondering if he was too old to withstand the possible anesthetic complications.

Instead of considering surgery, I decided to manage his ailment by changing his diet. At first, I gave him oatmeal as his source of fiber. But later on, I converted to red and brown rice because Peso was more of a rice eater. I also boiled squash and made it part of his diet. He was given a laxative after each meal to ensure that his poop would have a "paste-like" consistency, not hard and dry. He still had difficulty, and he was slowly developing something from his behind. There was a discoloration from natural colors to pale pink, and when you look closer, it was like a muscle started to stretch and skin was thinning.

First Surgery

Peso just turned eight years old on 27 July 2008, when I decided to bring him to surgery. Ahead of the set schedule of surgery, my dog just couldn't urinate one morning. The veterinary clinic where his surgery would be performed was still close, and unlike other clinics, it was located in a business area (all pets related) that closes at a particular time and opens late in the morning,

Suddenly, there was noticeable bulk at his behind. It was so large that he looked like he developed a head right under his tail. Peso was restless and uncomfortable, walking here and there trying his luck to pea but nothing came out.

So his first surgery was performed well (first week of August 2008), the bladder went out when the veterinarian made an opening at the bulge. The bladder was bloated and urine went out automatically filling up an ordinary size dipper. The bulge of the stretch muscles was repaired. Peso woke up and urinated without difficulty, the first surgery was a success.

First Surgery Photos

Looks like he developed another head right under his tail. This was taken after the veterinarian shaved his fur.

Looks like he developed another head right under his tail. This was taken after the veterinarian shaved his fur.

Peso's bladder, went out after  the Vet made a cut on the left side of his behind.

Peso's bladder, went out after the Vet made a cut on the left side of his behind.

Photos after castration, waiting for him to wake up

Photos after castration, waiting for him to wake up

Castration After Perineal Hernia Surgery

After his first surgery, Peso was castrated to avoid further complications, like enlarged prostate and testicle.

2nd Surgery

Days after the first surgery, I observed a small bulge at the right side of Peso's behind. It moved or threatened to enlarge whenever Peso barks. Since the left part was repaired, the hernia was like searching for another space where it can enlarge again. So it transferred to the right. We did not wait for complications like urine straining and constipation that we scheduled the surgery at least three weeks interval from the first.

The encircled part was the red like flesh which was actually his bladder already coming out of his anus. He was half sedated here, as preparation for his 3rd surgery. See his deformed behind.

The encircled part was the red like flesh which was actually his bladder already coming out of his anus. He was half sedated here, as preparation for his 3rd surgery. See his deformed behind.

Traumatic 3rd Surgery

Less than a week after his second surgery, Peso showed signs of urine straining again. I soaked small towel in hot water and and used it as hot compress to Peso's bulgy behind. I tried available home remedies because it was hard to accept then that Peso might be needing surgery again. All fears came back, including fear of anesthetic exposure. I walked Peso in spite of the rain, walking may do a miracle and there was that hope he can urinate again, but later in the afternoon, he had difficulty putting his poop out, and in that stormy evening, as a finale, when he attempted to poop again, a red like flesh was showing from his anus instead of a poop, and it completely blocked the hole.

It was the longest night of my life. Peso was crying and whining desperately. It must be really very painful and uncomfortable to have something stuck on his anus, as well as the volume of urine that he can't release. I felt so disappointed and helpless asking myself over and over again why those things are happening and what have I done wrong? I cried like a child, Peso immediately went to me and hugged me as if telling me to calm down. I realized that when I cried, Peso cried too. Manila was already flooded and I was advised to go to the veterinary clinic as soon as the sun was up the following day. I guess it will be more devastating to get stranded with a crying dog if I insist to go to the clinic that night. At this point we (I and his veterinarian) already decided to transfer to the hospital branch of Peso's veterinary clinic, where I can always bring Peso even in the middle of the night or as early as possible.

What gave me hope that night was when Peso took a piece of meat that I offered to him while he was crying, a sign for me that in his agony, he never really lost his appetite, and that means strong fighting spirit. He will live.

After 3rd Surgery Photo

Peso Still Sleeping After his Surgery, this was in 09 September 2008

Peso Still Sleeping After his Surgery, this was in 09 September 2008

We changed veterinarians during Peso's third surgery simply because, as I mentioned earlier, we decided to transfer Peso to the hospital branch of the clinic, and Peso's case was handled by equally competent veterinarian and indeed one of the best veterinarians in the Philippines.

If my memory serves me right, the side that was repaired during the third surgery was the right side again. Because of the space created by the hernia, bladder was displaced so, the red flesh showing on Peso's anus was his bladder. In other perineal hernia case, it was the colon that normally shows up from the anus. Probably because of exposure, his bladder had some discoloration and his veterinarian told me that if Peso can't urinate after the surgery, it could mean his bladder developed a problem. And it meant two things, he will be opened up for surgery again or put him to sleep.

When Peso woke up, he urinated and I knew the bladder did not develop anything at that moment.

Before 4th Surgery Photo

Before 4th Surgery Photo

4th Surgery Story

Since his third surgery, everything went well, except that there were things that I needed to do to help my dog. The surgery did not correct his bowel movements, So Peso has a lifetime maintenance of laxative drug after each meal, to control the consistency of his poop. Although the stool is paste like, it still did not go out naturally and easy. And so we go on with our lives, bringing Peso out and let him poop as regularly as possible. I also observed if he can urinate because if he can't that would mean another problem. His food is always rich in fiber, and I made sure he has boiled squash in his meal. I was happy he seemed normal for months. But I observed something again from his behind.

It begun to protrude again, and it looked like both sides were bulging. Bulges were not scary big but it was noticeable. The bulks are showing when he had not urinate yet, and once he did, his behind became flat like normal again.

December 01, 2008, I brought Peso again to the hospital for fourth surgery. Honestly during those days, I could no longer observe or monitor how he was treated, so I really couldn't tell which side was repaired. But the veterinarian was very positive that he already repaired even the potential one that started to stretch. And we had a Merry Christmas.

5th Surgery Story

A few days after New year of 2009, or more than one month after his 4th surgery, the bulk started to appear again, but the one at his right was the most obvious. January 7, 2009 was the exact date of Peso's 5th surgery, the bladder was displaced again resulting for Peso's urine restraining again. Although Peso was okay after the surgery, his veterinarian decided to confine him for a few more days for observation. I was told Peso's newly repaired muscles was already thinning that it can possibly give in when he moves drastically. Hyper dog Peso was discouraged to run and jump. Even excessive barking is bad for him. It was not easy to stop dog in doing things the he normally does, but I tried my best. At least he remains active and strong in spite of his surgeries and for me that is great fighting spirit.

6th Surgery Called Bladder Transfixation

The story did not end there. After another month, Peso showed signs of restraining again. The veterinarian said Peso's muscles were already thinning. A repair may not have been helpful anymore, so he decided to use another option which he called bladder transfixation. His brief explanation was that he made opening near the dog's penis, and repaired what was needed to be repaired inside like, he attached the bladder to the abdominal wall, to prevent the bladder from roaming the hernia. In medical terms, transfixation means piercing of a part of the body (as by a suture, nail, or other device) in order to fix it in position.

Roller Coaster Ride Feeling

Whenever Peso woke up from surgery, the feeling was always magical, Yes we survived another ordeal. But as Human of a dog with perineal hernia, I realized that I can't just relax and believe that my dog is already back to normal. The struggle did not end with the surgery, although you do your best to follow all rules so that hernia will not recur anymore, there were complications that still needs to be addressed.

Although drinking laxative is regular after every meal, there were still time that Peso developed impacted stool. They way I observed it, impacted stools are stool that went to place created by the hernia, meaning when Peso poop, not all were completely released, some went to that space and once that space was full,the behind will protrude again. In other cases, dog in this condition must undergo enema process, But I learned from Peso's veterinarian, He just used his finger doing it, of course he wore surgical gloves. I did the same later on, and Peso got used to that situation during poop time.

Bladder Topper Procedure

A few days after the surgery, Peso was returned to the clinic because of difficulty urinating again. His veterinarians and other senior vets were already planning for another surgery just in case there was no other options left. That surgery would be about repair of muscles at his behind using a silicon mesh, to support the thinning pelvis muscles, but while planning for it (because mesh was not available yet in the Philippines in 2009), procedures were tried so Peso can urinate. Catheter was not effective to him so bladder topper device was used instead. This device has a sharp needle like object attached to the tube in which the other end was connected to a container. The veterinarian tried to find Peso's bladder by touching his stomach. He then slowly pierced the sharp object to where the bladder was, then he pushed one button and the device automatically collected the urine from the bladder and went to the Jar like container. It went on for days and After a few series of bladder tapper procedure, Thank God! Peso was able to urinate naturally on his own, and his vet said, "At least there is no need for us to put Peso to another immediate surgery", and I was so happy we did not return to his vet for surgery since then.

open wound is one of the complications of Perineal hernia. His 6th surgery was in 2009, and years later that wound just came out.

open wound is one of the complications of Perineal hernia. His 6th surgery was in 2009, and years later that wound just came out.

Another Complication

I mentioned that Peso's case was the worst case of Perineal Hernia because he experienced all the possible complications. Repaired muscle suddenly showed wounds with surgical thread, and his veterinarian prescribe an ointment for wound which was quite expensive but very effective. It can dry up even the open weeping wounds.

What you see in the picture was an open wound, and yes that was where he was opened in his last surgery the called bladder transifixation. That wound came out years after his sixth surgeries. The veterinarian did not find it serious, but he recommend another remedy for wound which is very natural but expensive, I looked for Manuka honey, and I used it like ointment to Peso's wound. It was effective but when the wound dried up, the bulge at his behind became noticeable again, quite big if he had not urinated yet, but in spite of Peso was just okay. Urine straining never happened again, but when it comes to putting his poop out, he really needed my help.

How to Help Your Dog

Surgical Gloves

Helping your dog to poop is not clean so it is recommended to have a stock of surgical gloves at home.

The Lamp Shade Collar or E Collar

This is very important for this will prevent your dog from licking his wound or stitches. Without this the dog has the tendency to remove the stitches by himself causing the reopening of wound and possible exposure to infection.

At first the dog will surely resist it, but as his master you must insist and show him you are the boss... The dog will soon get use to it and even sleep with it or play with it. Once the wound is dry, and not that itchy anymore, you can remove this from your dog's neck anytime.

I remember when Peso got used to it, he ran around our subdivision while wearing it, and it was a funny sight to my neighbors.

Lessons Learned

Once your dogs were diagnosed with Perineal hernia don't hesitate to bring them to surgery, my fears and doubts made me delay Peso's surgery, and in this type of ailment prolonging it means worsening it.If in case it reaches the case of Peso, don't deny them the chance to life, believe me once you see them surviving the feeling is very magical.

Indeed my dog had experienced so much, but I can't just give up on him because I know he wanted to live, and I will never deny that chance to him.

An Update About My Dog's Ailment

A dog's perineal hernia, never stop in the success of the surgery. Peso's sixth surgery, the Bladder transfixation was considered a success because it kept the bladder in place, at least at the right side of his behind, which prevented it from blocking his intestine. After his sixth surgery, in case the hernia recurred, There was another option for surgery, which will need the use of "Surgical Mesh". In 2009, the mesh was not yet available in the Philippines, but my dog's veterinarians were determined to get one for Peso, if in case Peso did not respond well to his last surgery. This mesh will be added to the dogs thinning muscles at his behind, making it stronger to hold the organs like bladder in place, this is 95% non recurring.

But since Peso managed without the mesh transplant and considering his age, that would be enough to consider him in a very good condition. You can expect more impacted stool, in spite of taking a maintenance stool softener drug. You can still observe your dog's behind getting extra ordinarily bulky. There was a time that I sent Peso to the clinic for stool removal, and after more than three months, there was the impacted stool again but this time, I successfully managed to help him bring it out using my hands wearing the surgical glove. You can use your imagination for what I did to help him, and I know Peso was just so grateful

Picture Years After His Last Surgery

After his surgeries, Peso became so healthy and good-looking, as if no signs of six surgeries.