February 11, 2016

Affectionate Pup “Romeo” Undergoes Life-Saving Hernia Repair at the ASPCA Animal Hospital

One of the most endearing qualities of Romeo, a four-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix, is that he loves to give besos—kisses—and does so on command. That’s why it was a surprise one Sunday morning last November when he stopped kissing and became sick.

Romeo’s vomiting was severe enough that his pet parents, Tiffany B. and Jamie C., brought him to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH). At the hospital, Romeo was diagnosed with intestinal entrapment within an inguinal hernia—meaning that a portion of his intestines had become trapped in his abdomen—and he underwent emergency surgery.

“Romeo’s vomiting was caused by the entrapment of his intestines through the hernia, which strangulated that particular portion his bowel,” explains ASPCA Veterinarian Dr. Yvonne Kline, who, along with Veterinarian Dr. Maren Krafchik, performed surgery to correct Romeo’s hernia. “When hernias entrap the intestine, extreme pain and gastrointestinal upset can result. Without surgery, the entrapment can be fatal.”  

Inguinal hernias are a relatively common disease in dogs. Abdominal fat is the most common herniation, but intestinal loops or reproductive organs can also push into the resultant hernial sac and become a surgical emergency, as in Romeo's case.  

 The veterinarians cut away five centimeters of Romeo’s small intestine, removing the damaged section and sewing the two ends together.

Dr. Kline suspects that Romeo's hernia was a result of a congenital anatomic defect—the most common reason—though they can also be acquired as a result of trauma or obesity.

Romeo, whom Tiffany and Jamie have had since he was two months old, was hospitalized for several days. The couple traveled from their Staten Island home to AAH, located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, multiple times to visit him while he recovered.

“He perked up and ate better with his family present, which was paramount to his success post-operatively,” says Dr. Kline.

“He’s like one of our kids—very spoiled, and smart,” adds Tiffany.

Last year, veterinarians at AAH performed 38 hernia repairs, including inguinal hernias, like Romeo’s, as well as diaphragmatic, abdominal, and umbilical, on both male and female dogs and cats. While there is no way to avoid a hernia, it is very important to intervene if hernia is detected incidentally during a routine physical exam or in an emergency, as in Romeo’s case.  

Back home, Romeo is back to his old tricks. He sits, lies down, crawls, rolls over, plays tag and hide-and-seek, fetches, and of course—gives besos.