Umbilical hernia in dogs | Daily News


Umbilical hernia in dogs

Belly button

Once the umbilical cord is removed at birth, and the abdominal walls close up, the scar left from this results in formation of belly button. When your pet rolls on her back for a stomach rub, look at her mid-central abdomen, toward the end of the rib cage. On most pets, it looks like a circular or oval wrinkle on the skin, or a small flat vertical scar. The hair on your animal’s stomach may even swirl or wave around the belly button area.

Umbilical hernia

An umbilical hernia an opening in the muscle wall where the umbilicus (belly button) is located, is a protrusion (outward bulging) of the abdominal lining. The hernia allows the abdominal contents to pass through the opening such as abdominal fat or a portion of abdominal organ(s) through the area around the umbilicus (navel or belly button). The umbilicus in dogs and cats is located on their underside just below the ribcage. Umbilical hernias may be complicated or uncomplicated. A complicated hernia is one in which contents of the abdominal cavity, such as a loop of intestine, have passed through the opening and become entrapped.


An uncomplicated umbilical hernia is associated with a soft swelling in the umbilical area. This swelling may be variable in size and may come and go. Otherwise, the dog will appear health. Symptoms seen with a complicated umbilical hernia may include: pain and warmth, especially at the site of the umbilical swelling, vomiting, lack of appetite, depression etc.


Most umbilical hernias in dogs are probably inherited although trauma can also be a cause. Some breeds of dogs, including Airedales, Pekingese, and basenji are predisposed to umbilical hernias. Before birth, the umbilical blood vessels pass through the umbilical ring (an opening in the abdominal muscles) to provide nourishment to the developing fetus. An umbilical hernia is caused by the incomplete closure of the umbilical ring after birth. The hernia generally appears as a soft swelling beneath the skin and it often protrudes when the puppy is standing, barking, crying, or straining. Some hernias are reducible, meaning that the protrusion can be pushed back into the abdomen while others are non-reducible indicating at least partial obstruction or adhesion of the herniated contents to the opening.

An umbilical hernia can vary in size from less than a quarter-inch (1-cm) to more than an inch (2.5-cm) in diameter. Small (less than ¼ inch or 1-cm) hernias may close spontaneously (without treatment) by age 3 to 4 months.


Umbilical hernias can usually be diagnosed by finding the swelling caused by the hernia on a physical examination. However, sometimes contrast radiographs (x-rays) or an abdominal ultrasound are needed to determine which abdominal contents, if any, are entrapped.


Treatment of an umbilical hernia involves surgical correction of the opening and replacement of abdominal contents if necessary. Some umbilical hernias will, however, close spontaneously, usually by 6 months of age. Small umbilical hernias may not need surgical correction but larger hernias should be repaired to remove the risk of complications. The surgery can be done at most of the local Veterinary clinics in Sri Lanka.


Because many umbilical hernias are hereditary, pets with these hernias should not be bred.

In rare cases, a portion of the intestines or other tissues can be trapped and become strangulated (blood flow is cut off to the tissue, causing its death). This is an emergency requiring immediate surgery.


The prognosis is excellent following surgical correction. Few puppies experience recurrence of the hernia and few complications are reported with the procedure

(The writer is a Veterinary Surgeon and holds

B.V.Sc; M.Sc Poultry Science; Master of

Public Administration and Management)

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