A hernia is part of an organ or tissue protruding through a cavity wall.
A hernia can only occurs when there is a tear in a muscle wall. Part of an organ, fat or other body tissue gets trapped in the protrusion, cutting off circulation and leading to swelling, infection, and compromised function.
Hernias can be the result of an injury. They can also be hereditary. Dogs with congenital hernias are discouraged from breeding as they will likely pass down the abnormality.
Yes. While they are not all this severe, some dogs can die from exposure to bacterial infection from the hernia.
A vet will do a physical exam of your dog. Dependent on the location of the hernia either a rectal exam or an x-ray with contrast of the abdomen.
Hernias require surgery to get the protrusion back into the correct spot and close the tear in the muscle wall. Hernias that are considered reducible will receive a simple reparative surgery. Hernias that are considered non-reducible have partially adhered to the muscle wall and will have a similar surgery but if it has escalated to a strangulated hernia, where blood supply is cut off, it will be mandatory.
Additionally, surgery will ensure the tissue does not continue to attach itself to other organs. There are rare cases where surgery will not be necessary.