Shelter Helps Senior Dog with Giant Mass

At 11 years old, Viola found herself in the care of the San Jose Animal Care Center. Like many dogs, Viola was scared in the unfamiliar shelter environment. The shelter’s behavior team worked with her to help her feel more comfortable in her new environment.

Once she was finally warming up to people, it was time to address the elephant in the room, which was the giant mass that was hanging from her belly.

Viola - Pyometra Inguinal Hernia 1

Viola - Pyometra Inguinal Hernia 1

Viola’s mass was so large her left hind leg couldn’t rest comfortably in a normal position.

The shelter’s veterinary team examined Viola and suspected that the giant mass was not a tumor, but rather an inguinal hernia.

Inguinal Hernia: An inguinal hernia occurs when abdominal organs protrude through the inguinal ring, an opening in the muscle wall in the groin region. Most inguinal hernias that we see in our shelter are reducible, meaning that we can push the abdominal organs back into the abdomen without much difficulty. When we are unable to push the abdominal organs back into the abdomen, it is a non-reducible hernia, which is an emergency that can have fatal consequences.

Inguinal hernias can be life-threatening as intestines or other organs can get caught in & strangulated by the hernia, causing the organs to die. See Figures 1 and 2 below (from the article linked above).



Viola’s hernia was non-reducible, meaning that we could not get the herniated organs to go back into the abdomen.

Viola - Pyometra Inguinal Hernia 1

Under anesthesia, getting ready for surgery to repair an inguinal hernia.

Under anesthesia, Dr. Ostermann made an incision in Viola’s belly. The incision is the same incision that would be used to spay Viola, but it would also be used to guide the abdominal organs through the hernia and back into the abdomen where they belonged. Watch the video below of the hernia size decrease as Dr. Ostermann guides the organs back to the abdomen.

The major issue that affected Viola is that she developed a pyometra, an infection in her uterus. This is a life-threatening condition on its own. What complicated things is that Viola’s uterus had been affected by the hernia and was stuck outside of the abdomen, swelling in size as the infection grew, making the hernia even more constrictive.

Viola - Pyometra Inguinal Hernia 1

One of the organs that herniated was an infected uterus (pyometra).

Viola - Pyometra Inguinal Hernia 1

Viola’s pyometra (infected uterus).

Dr. Ostermann removed Viola’s infected uterus and proceeded on to bring all of the remaining organs that had herniated back into the abdomen.

Viola - Pyometra Inguinal Hernia 1

The intestines and other abdominal organs were guided through the hernia and then placed back into the abdomen.

Once the organs were back in the abdomen, she made a second incision over the area where the hernia was located and found the “pouch” of tissue that the abdominal organs had herniated into. She isolated that pouch and removed it.

Viola - Pyometra Inguinal Hernia 1

The “pouch” that all of the organs had herniated into.

Then she found the inguinal ring that was abnormally large and closed it so as to prevent the hernia from recurring. After surgery was completed and Viola had been sewed up, she also had two loose molars removed.

After a few days, staff noted that she seemed much more comfortable, especially when laying down, as she no longer had a giant mass to contend with.

Viola relaxing in the shelter’s play yards (Photo:

Viola - Pyometra Inguinal Hernia 1

Viola after surgery, ready for a forever home.

Viola is currently looking for a forever home. (Animal ID: A1040857)

2 thoughts on “Shelter Helps Senior Dog with Giant Mass

  1. Thank you for taking care and saving little Viola. God bless you for all you do for these beautiful fur babies.

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