Miguel was a street dog in San Miguel de Allende when we met him in Mexico in 2006.
A month after we brought him to Seattle he started having trouble breathing after any sort of physical activity, began coughing more, and eventually, started to vomit regularly.
When we took him to the vet, she couldn’t find anything that might have caused the symptoms. She took some blood and a stool sample to see if they might provide a clue about the problem.
Then, almost as an afterthought, she decided to take an x-ray of his chest to see if he had any problem with his lungs.
The x-ray showed he had a diaphragmatic hernia. Some sort of trauma – probably being hit by a car or kicked in the chest – had ruptured his diaphram, and his intestines had been pushed through the hole and almost completely filled one of his lungs.
The surgical specialist that our vet recommended said the chances that Miguel would survive the surgery to pull his intestines from his lung and fix the hernia were only about 50/50, but if we did nothing he would eventually die, so of course we did the surgery. (The survival rate for this surgery was low because of the location of the hernia. Not all surgeries for diaphragmatic hernias have a low survival rate).
Fortunately, Miguel survived the surgery with no problem. The vet said he would probably have to stay in the hospital a few days after surgery, but after only one day he was spunky enough to come home with a foot-long incision from the base of his neck to the middle of his stomach.
He eventually made a complete recovery, and almost 10 years later he’s still going strong.
Please read this article to get a better understanding of diaphragmatic hernias – it may save your dog’s life:
Don’t Overlook the Possibility of a Diaphragmatic Hernia
by Dr. Jennifer Coates