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Umbilical Hernia in Dogs - Dog Belly Button Lump

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. Updated: January 30, 2024
Umbilical Hernia in Dogs - Dog Belly Button Lump

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If you have seen a bump on your dog's belly button, it is important to consider the possibility of an umbilical hernia. A hernia is when tissue exist through an opening or cavity which normally contains it. An umbilical hernia occurs when the tissue involved is the belly button, known in veterinary medicine as the umbilicus. This is the area where the umbilical cord between the puppy and their mother's placenta is attached. For this reason, it is most common for umbilical hernias to occur in puppies rather than adult dogs, although it can also happen to adults.

At AnimalWised, we discover more about umbilical hernia in dogs. We find out the causes and treatment of a dog belly button lump so you can know what to do if you observe it in your puppy or adult dog.

  1. What is an umbilical hernia in dogs?
  2. Causes of umbilical hernia in dogs
  3. Symptoms of an umbilical hernia in dogs
  4. Treatment for an umbilical hernia in dogs
  5. Recovery from umbilical hernia surgery in dogs

What is an umbilical hernia in dogs?

If our dog has a lump on their belly button, it is most likely an umbilical hernia. A hernia is the exit of internal contents such as fat, part of the intestine or even an organ such as the liver or spleen, outside the cavity in which it should normally be found. In the case of umbilical hernias in dogs, this cavity id the umbilicus, also known as the belly button or navel.

This exit occurs through an injury or weakness in the wall of the dog's belly button. Hernias can also appear in various different places, such as the diaphragm or groin. The latter is relatively common in canines and is known as an inguinal hernia in dogs.

These types of hernia are usually congenital, meaning they are defects that occur at the time of birth. It is for this reason umbilical hernias are more common in puppies. They can be an acquired injury in adults dogs, often as the result of sudden trauma, such as a bite or an accident. Such incidents are often mitigated by related factors such as weakened abdominal muscles or obesity in dogs.

Umbilical hernias can be of varying size, but they all should have a similar texture and appearance. When you touch the dog belly button lump it should be smooth. When pressing with the finger, it is likely the lump can be temporarily reinserted to the cavity. When this occurs, it is known as a reducible hernia. In cases of irreducible hernias, they remain permanently on the outside and are only protected by a layer of skin.

When the blood supply to the hernia is cut off, it is said to be strangulated. Depending on what tissue is being strangled, the consequences may be more or less serious. This aspect will be important when determining management. Some small hernias will reduce on their own while others that are larger or involve certain organs, will require surgery. We discuss this further below by looking at the causes and treatment of umbilical hernias.

Umbilical Hernia in Dogs - Dog Belly Button Lump - What is an umbilical hernia in dogs?
Image: YouTube @Kong Yuen Sing

Causes of umbilical hernia in dogs

Puppies that develop in their mother's womb will be connected to her through the umbilical cord attached to her placenta, similar to what happens in humans. Puppies receive the nutrients necessary for their development through this cord. After birth, the mother dog will cut the cord with her teeth, leaving a piece that will dry out and eventually fall off. This process usually takes around a week.

Inside the navel, the place occupied by the cord should also be closed. In cases in which this closure is not complete, a hernia occurs. The hernia material is usually in the form of fat, tissue or even an organ. If we observe a puppy belly button lump, it is likely a hernia of this type.

Umbilical hernias may be small in size and will reduce on their own as the dog develops and grows in size. This means they will not require any additional veterinary intervention. This should occur within the first six months of their life. If the size of the hernia is very large or compromises the health of our dog, an intervention will be necessary. Since spaying and neutering usually occur during these early stages, the two procedures are often combined.

If a dog has a lump on their belly button, we need to take them to the veterinarian for evaluation. If it is indeed an umbilical hernia, they will be able to decide whether intervention is required. A complete check-up of the dog is also recommended in case other hernias appear. This is because inguinal hernias are also congenital defects with a potential genetic influence.

There are many reasons why a dog should be spayed or neutered. It will prevent unwanted pregnancies and improve the overall health of the dog. If a female dog with an umbilical hernia becomes pregnant and the size of this hernia is very large, the womb could even be introduced through the navel cavity. This is a serious complication of dog pregnancy. Neutering will also prevent the genes which predispose dogs to umbilical hernias being passed on.

While risks of neutering are very minimal, you can assess them with our article on complications of spaying or neutering a dog.

Symptoms of an umbilical hernia in dogs

As we have seen, puppies generally develop umbilical hernias at birth and should achieve a diagnosis soon after. If an acquired umbilical hernia in dogs occurs, it is often due to an injury that breaks the navel cavity and allows the tissue to herniate. This can happen at any age, but there are often mitigating factors. These include canine obesity, but they may also be due influenced by the dog suffering neglect or abuse.

How do I know if my dog has an umbilical hernia?

The symptoms of an umbilical hernia are mostly to do with the physical presence of the hernia itself. There may also be some behavioral differences which can help us to detect the presence of an umbilical hernia. Symptoms of an umbilical hernia in dogs and puppies include:

  • Protruding lump: this emerges from the navel
  • Pain or discomfort: may prevent the dog from laying on their abdomen.
  • Excessive licking of the belly button: to relieve pain or discomfort.
  • Abdominal sensitivity: they may not want to be touched in the abdomen or even react if done so.
  • Vomiting or lethargy: in severe cases when an organ is trapped.
  • Redness or swelling: can occur around the belly button lump.

As stated above, putting pressure on am umbilical hernia will usually temporarily return the protruding tissue back into the cavity. We will need to speak to a veterinarian to determine what treatment options are available. They will carry out their own palpation, but will likely use diagnostic imaging tests such as x-rays or ultrasound to confirm the type and extent of the hernia. This include the level of strangulation, as well as whether it is reducible.

Learn more about the causes and treatment of other types of canine hernia with our article on diaphragmatic hernia in dogs.

Treatment for an umbilical hernia in dogs

You may wonder whether there are any home remedies for umbilical hernia in dogs, but there are not. It is a serious health issue which can drastically harm the well-being of the dog. While some dogs may not require treatment, we cannot determine this on our own since the extent of the hernia can be difficult to determine. Diagnosis and treatment needs to be carried out by a veterinary professional.

If our veterinarian has diagnosed our dog with an umbilical hernia, treatment will depend on the following factors:

  • Small in size and no organ involvement: if the hernia is diagnosed in the puppy and it is not very large, the veterinarian will usually wait until around 6 months of age to determine if it will reduce on its own. In other cases, the hernia can be operated on for aesthetic reasons. Intervention may not be required, but periodic checkups will be required, especially if strangulation later occurs.

  • Large in size, but not serious: if the dog is more than 6 months of age, surgical intervention is not necessarily required. Some guardians choose surgery for aesthetic reasons or to avoid potential complications later in life. As with the previous type of umbilical hernia, it is important to carry out periodic checks. If the dog is sterilized after this point, the hernia is often addressed during this intervention.

  • Large in size and compromises the health of our dog: the indication is surgery in which the veterinarian will return the protruded material and suture the umbilical wall so that it cannot come out again. The operation will be more complex if any organ is involved. Surgery is necessary if strangulation occurs as the organ will be left without blood supply. This causes necrosis, posing a serious risk to our dog's life. Removal of the affected organ may also be required.

The cost of umbilical hernia surgery in dogs may vary depending on the country, the clinic and the specific case. In the US, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $1,000 or more for umbilical hernia repair. This is one of the reasons pet insurance is important.

Your veterinarian may prescribe some analgesics or preventive antibiotics after the surgery. You can find out how to give pills to dogs after surgery to help with this process if the animal is making it difficult.

Umbilical Hernia in Dogs - Dog Belly Button Lump - Treatment for an umbilical hernia in dogs

Recovery from umbilical hernia surgery in dogs

After the operation or umbilical hernia repair, our veterinarian may suggest the option of hospitalizing the dog. The purpose of doing so is to best ensure recovery for the patient before going home. Since it is a relatively quick recovery, it is also possible the vet will discharge the animal on the same day as the surgical intervention. Regardless, once the dog is returned to home, you will need to consider the following:

  • Avoid excessive activity and take short, calm walks.
  • Prevent licking by using bandages or an E-collar for dogs.
  • Check regularly that all sutures are still intact.
  • Clean the wound if it becomes dirty for any reason with water and neutral soap.
  • Offer him a high-quality diet and if he doesn't want to eat, opt for wet food.
  • Promote a relaxed environment through pheromones, relaxing music and a calm attitude.

Ask your veterinarian about the best way to protect the surgical incision. While E-collars are common, many clinics are recommending the use of dog bodysuits to protect the sutures. Complications to the wound are similar to the signs of infection after neutering a dog. If we see any signs of infection, you will need to take them back to the veterinarian immediately.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Umbilical Hernia in Dogs - Dog Belly Button Lump, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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Umbilical Hernia in Dogs - Dog Belly Button Lump