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Umbilical hernia in dogs is a condition that creates a noticeable squishy protrusion in your dog’s belly bottom. This condition results from the incomplete closure of the umbilical ring when the dog was born. Sometimes it can heal on its own, but in other cases, it will require a surgical operation.
Stay tuned to learn all about umbilical hernias in dogs so you know what to expect from this fairly common and curable condition.
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What in the World is an Umbilical Hernia?
Let’s start with the umbilical cord, the tissue that connects at the navel of the puppy while in the womb. It supplies the developing fetus with oxygen and nourishment until the puppy is born.
After birth, the umbilical cord will fall off on its own and the umbilicus should close up without any issue.
When the umbilicus fails to heal and close, a protrusion of the abdominal lining, organs or fat against the skin can occur, pushing out the naval area. This creates the unnatural bulge that can be minor or, depending on the circumstances, life-threatening.
Types of umbilical hernias in dogs
If your beloved pup has a bulging belly button, your main concern is probably going to be whether or not an umbilical hernia is dangerous or not.
To answer this, we must first look at the different types of umbilical hernias. After all, this is a condition that can crop up due to a diverse range of factors, which we will touch base on later.
A large or irreducible umbilical hernia is the most serious type, and the name pretty much says it all. This is where a loop of the intestine slips through an opening in the abdominal cavity and becomes stuck, pushing against the navel.
An irreducible hernia can result in strangulation or organ damage, in which case blood flow is blocked off from tissue. It’s rare but potentially life-threatening. Emergency surgery is required immediately.
A reducible umbilical hernia is a smaller tear where the intestine cannot pass through. This type is less alarming, often resulting in minor swelling around the naval area.
The size of the swelling varies, and in some cases will come and go on its own. In most cases, it can be left untreated with the affected pup going on to live a normal life without pain.
What Causes Umbilical Hernia in dogs?
The majority of umbilical hernia cases result from a malfunction during the healing process after the umbilical cord shrivels and falls off following the birth. The reason for this is unknown.
There are other factors that can cause umbilical hernias in both puppies and adults. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Umbilical hernias in puppies
Umbilical hernias are the most common type affecting newborn puppies. There are 3 main ways in which this congenital hernia will develop.
- The puppy was born with the umbilical hernia.
- The hernia developed due to a spontaneous issue during early development.
- It is hereditary, passed from one of the parents to the puppy.
In this video, a vet talks about umbilical hernias in puppies.
Umbilical hernias in adult dogs
Adult dogs can develop hernias as well. Unlike puppies, blunt force trauma is the main cause.
If a dog gets hit by a car or receives a severe blow to the stomach, a rip in the abdominal wall can occur, causing the organs to push out or “herniate”.
Disease and aging are also factors that cause hernias in adult dogs.
Common breeds that have hernias
Some purebred dogs are predisposed to umbilical hernias. Here is a list of some breeds that are known to have umbilical hernias in their genetic makeup.
How to tell if your dog has an umbilical hernia
Remember, small umbilical hernias are usually nothing to worry about and will go away as the puppy matures.
If you suspect that your puppy or dog may be suffering from an irreducible umbilical hernia, keep an eye out for symptoms such as a noticeable swelling at the umbilicus or belly button and the area is warm to the touch.
When you touch the area and your dog yelps or growls, it’s obvious that it causes pain so you should be concerned about that. Another thing is if your dog displays a lack of appetite or anorexia, as well as vomiting and depression.
Make an appointment and visit your vet so you know what’s the next course of action to help your dog.
Diagnosis of Canine Umbilical Hernia
The size and contents of an umbilical hernia are the two main factors that will be considered by the veterinarian before treatment is determined.
The vet will begin by asking questions about the symptoms you noticed, then your dog will undergo a physical examination. He or she will gently push the organs that have fallen out of the abdominal cavity back inside. This is imperative in order to determine how large of a tear they are dealing with.
If a loop of the intestine has fallen through, this means that the tear is large. Your dog is at risk of strangulation, and the tear needs to be repaired immediately via surgery.
If the hernia is large, the vet might use an abdominal radiograph to better diagnose whether or not it is strangled.
In order to determine the size of a hernia, the vet may suggest an abdominal ultrasound.
How is an umbilical hernia in dogs treated?
If an umbilical hernia is small, treatment is not necessary. Your dog is not in pain and the tear is so tiny that the intestine, fat or other organs can’t pass through.
The best course of action is to wait and watch, especially if you have a puppy. Usually, the hernia will go away on its own by the time the pup is 6 months old. If not, consult your vet.
If you’re dealing with a large hernia, surgery is required to avoid strangulation. Luckily, this is not a complicated surgery.
The vet will make an incision in the hernial sac and push the contents back into the abdominal cavity. Hernia border tissue is removed and the opening in the abdominal cavity is sealed.
Tip: If your pup needs to be spayed or neutered, inquire about having the umbilical hernia repaired at the same time. It is common to do this since the dog will already be under anesthesia.
Home Remedies for umbilical hernias in dogs
ATTENTION: There are no home remedies to cure an umbilical hernia.
But, if you are confident that your essential oil collection has the healing powers to make your dog’s umbilical hernia naturally disappear, please note that home remedies SHOULD NOT be undertaken until you have had your fur baby examined by a vet.
Helping your dog to have a smooth recovery
Umbilical hernias in dogs can be scary, but in truth, the surgery is standard procedure with optimistic results. You can expect your dog to make a full recovery and go on to live a normal life.
Of course, the risk of complications is present with any type of surgery. When you bring your dog home, follow the vet’s care instructions carefully, not missing a day of medication, if it is prescribed.
Prepare your dog’s crate or bed so she has a comfortable, familiar space to rest and heal.
If you have other pets, keep them separated for the time being to reduce physical strain and stress. Avoid any type of physical activity for at least 10 days. Take your dog outside for toilet breaks, but keep her on a leash. She should not run around or jump in her fragile state.
Your dog’s stomach will be sensitive after surgery. She might vomit from eating straight away or she might not have an appetite at all. This is normal as her body stabilizes after surgery. If she is vomiting, do not feed her for a day.
The most important factor is to carefully monitor the abdominal area and your dog’s behavior for signs of an adverse reaction to the surgery.
During the first few days of recovery, obviously your dog won’t be her usual self. If she displays signs of exhaustion, coughing, lack of coordination or whimpering, know that this is normal because she is feeling uncomfortable from the surgery.
Seek medical attention for your pup if there’s no progress during recovery and if there are problems with the incision or infection. This can include, redness, swelling or abnormal discharge.
It’s also an emergency if the sutures are not holding the incision together or it is falling apart, and in extreme cases, the intestines fall through again, pushing through the incision.
How much does it cost to fix or treat umbilical hernia in dogs?
The cost of surgery for a dog with an umbilical hernia will depend on the size and severity of the hernia. But, the good news is, this standard surgery isn’t that expensive.
Excluding the initial physical examination and potential lab work, the cost of umbilical hernia surgery is between $150 to $400.
What is the prognosis for an umbilical hernia?
Umbilical hernias are considered to be a mild health issue unless strangulation is diagnosed.
If the hernia is small, your dog will be just fine. You’ll only need to keep an eye on the naval swelling and know what symptoms to look for if medical attention is needed.
After surgery, recurrent umbilical hernias in dogs is extremely rare. If symptoms surface again, take your dog to the vet for further treatment.
Prevention: Purebred standards & breeding practices
A survey undertaken by veterinarians concluded with 90% agreeing that umbilical hernias in purebred dogs are inherited.
There are mixed attitudes towards breeding dogs with a predisposition to the condition.
Some believe that you should not breed the affected dog to stop the passing on of the hernia gene to future generations.
Also, there is fear surrounding a pregnant dog with an umbilical hernia. Professionals argue that weight bearing down on the abdominal tear from a growing uterus can cause the tear to stretch out and become irreducible.
Others simply do not see it as a major issue, especially since umbilical hernias can occur spontaneously with no known cause. The American Kennel Club allows purebred dogs to perform in shows with no-fault given in regards to the hernia.
If you are worried about purchasing a puppy with an umbilical hernia, the best preventative measure you can take is to check with the breeder. Ask about the medical history of the parents to see if hernias are present in the gene pool.
Note that this will only rule out congenital hernias, but it doesn’t mean your dog can’t still develop one due to healing malfunction or disease.
Have you dealt with umbilical hernias in dogs? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
Most umbilical hernias pose no health threats. "In rare cases, a portion of the intestines or other tissues can be trapped and become strangulated." 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).
If the hernia bubbles out or is bigger than a pinkie finger, there is a chance that intestines may be slipping in and out of the opening. At some point, a section of intestines could slide out through the hernia opening and get trapped or twisted. At that point, your dog needs emergency surgery.
Many small hernias will close on their own. Larger hernias will require surgery to close up the opening, leaving the intestines safely inside. If your puppy is not having any problems, your vet may recommend keeping an eye on it and doing the surgery at the same time as spaying or neutering.
- Pain and warmth, especially at the site of the umbilical swelling.
- Lack of appetite.
While some hernias result from trauma causing a tear in the muscle, most puppy hernias are congenital problems. This is where the muscle fails to develop properly. There may be a genetic element to this condition, as some breeds appear more susceptible. So it is advisable not to breed from a dog with a hernia.
In general, the cost for a dog umbilical hernia repair is relatively inexpensive. Pet owners should expect to pay approximately $150 to $400 for the hernia repair if it is included with the spay or neuter procedure.
Complications can occur when the protruding abdominal tissue becomes trapped (incarcerated) and can no longer be pushed back into the abdominal cavity. This reduces the blood supply to the section of trapped intestine and can lead to abdominal pain and tissue damage.
If a hernia is left alone, there can be many complications. The hernia will obviously grow and become more painful, portions of your pup's intestines could be trapped and not get enough blood flow causing strangulation, and sometimes, the hernia can obstruct the bowel and cause severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and more.
The canal becomes enlarged — think of a hole getting bigger once there's a tear — and abdominal organs can herniate through the opening. “These are true, major hernias that need to be fixed,” says Tufts veterinary surgeon John Berg, DVM, who serves as Your Dog's editor-in-chief.
By 2 weeks after surgery your pet should be feeling very well. Exercise: Please keep your pet quiet for the next four weeks. This includes no running, jumping, or playing. Your pet should be taken on short leash walks long enough to urinate and defecate only.
Treatment of Hernia in Dogs
In the case that it's too late for either procedure, if the hernia is reducible, then it can simply be pushed back into its correct area (example: abdominal wall). Oral antacid preparation, along with medical treatment, may also be used to treat hernias in nonlife-threatening cases.
It is possible to treat a belly button hernia that has developed during pregnancy, without any surgery. Practicing some regular exercises such as yoga, aerobic and stretching can help. Additionally, pregnant women with an umbilical hernia can try breathing exercises, yoga, stretching, cycling, and meditation.
An untreated hernia can result in a great amount of pain for your dog and could lead to medical complications.
Recovery is relatively straightforward, with the wounds healing within 10 days. There is commonly some bruising and swelling post-operatively, so your pet will need to be rested and have restricted exercise for the first 2 weeks after surgery.
By 6 to 8 weeks after surgery, complete healing has taken place. Surgery is successful 90% of the time. Infection is an uncommon complication of this procedure. Recurrence of the hernia is possible and this complication is reduced by restricting the pet's activity in the postop period.
What do umbilical hernias mean for my breeding program? If a hernia is sufficiently large it requires surgery, the dog should not be bred. Dogs with minor hernias or in which hernias went away naturally should be considered to have a fault that you want to breed away from.
Puppies with relatively large umbilical hernias are prone to serious complications down the road. This is also true for hernias that cause visible discomfort to a puppy when touched. In these cases, you should keep in mind that the puppy is likely to need significant medical attention and care.
Do umbilical hernias cause any health problems? Small umbilical hernias do not cause any problems. These puppies do not need surgery and can do all normal activities. Large hernias can be a problem if an intestinal loop slips through the opening and becomes trapped or injured.
Dogs will need to rest for 1-2 weeks, will need to keep their wound clean and dry (may need a buster collar) and will likely be given some pain relief and anti inflammatories.
There are several types of hernia (also known as a rupture) seen in the dog and the causes vary between the different types. Some hernias can be minor, but in certain circumstances they can be very serious and often require surgical treatment.
Many people are able to delay surgery for months or even years. And some people may never need surgery for a small hernia. If the hernia is small and you don't have any symptoms, or if the symptoms don't bother you much, you and your doctor may simply continue to watch for symptoms to occur.
- A painful bulge that doesn't reduce in size when you lay down and rest.
- Worsening pain.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Difficulty having a bowel movement.
- Racing heart rate.
Why do hernias need to be repaired? Many doctors recommend surgery because it can prevent a rare but serious problem called strangulation. This occurs when a loop of intestine or a piece of fatty tissue is trapped in a hernia and the blood supply is cut off, which kills the tissue.
Symptoms of a strangulated umbilical hernia include: Abdominal pain and tenderness. Constipation.
If you suspect your dog has a hernia, you should visit the veterinarian. Hernias can turn into a life-threatening situation if the organs penetrating the muscle get strangled and lose their blood supply.
If necessary, umbilical hernias can be treated with surgery to push the bulge back into place and strengthen the weakness in the abdominal wall. This operation may be recommended for your child if the hernia is large or hasn't disappeared by the time they reach 4 or 5 years old.
If this condition is left untreated longer than 6 hours, incarcerated hernia can cut off blood flow to part of the intestine, resulting in strangulated hernia.
If you notice that your puppy has an umbilical hernia, you should take them to the vet for an examination. Your vet will be able to determine whether or not your puppy's umbilical hernia is reducible or non-reducible and whether or not treatment is necessary.
The latest hernia repair techniques usually allow you to return to normal activities within 2 weeks. Gentle exercise, such as walking, can help the healing process. Heavy lifting and strenuous activities should be avoided for about 4 to 6 weeks.
DON'T swim, take a bath, or get in a hot tub for at least 2-3 weeks. Submerging yourself in water increases the risk of your incision becoming infected. Take showers and follow your discharge instructions about how to care for your incisions. DO follow discharge instructions to take stool softeners.
Mild pain or tenderness may be the only symptoms of hernia mesh failure. In other cases, patients may experience a burning sensation around the surgical site or a bulging area that protrudes through the skin. Bulging may be caused by the mesh dislodging or migrating, which can cause inflammation and pain.
Hernias can be congenital (meaning the puppy was born with the condition) or acquired through trauma, disease or aging. Congenital hernias are the most common cause noted in young dogs. They may be the result of a spontaneous problem during development, or a genetic defect passed on from one of the parents.
After any kind of hernia, walking can help keep your muscles strong and help reduce your risk of complications. This is especially true of surgeries on your abdomen. Walking helps your organs return to their proper place.
- Milk with a pinch of turmeric powder.
- A herbal mixture including fennel, citrus seeds, and hawthorn & litchi seeds.
- Smaller meals at regular intervals.
- High water intake.
- High fibre, high protein, low fat diet.
- Fresh green vegetables.
- Whole wheat ingredients.
An umbilical hernia happens when part of a child's intestines bulges through the abdominal wall inside the belly button. It shows up as a bump under the belly button. The hernia isn't painful and most don't cause any problems.
Umbilical hernia repair is a fairly quick and simple operation. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes and it's usually possible to go home on the same day. However, some people stay in hospital overnight if they have other medical problems or if they live alone.
Reports of 90 – 99% success rates are common. Mesh repairs, in many cases, offer a smaller chance of hernia recurrence rate than non-mesh repairs. Unfortunately, some repairs may lead to very high incidence of chronic pain, which can range from 5-15%. The key is to find a surgeon that performs a lot of hernia surgery.
Many dogs that have small hiatal hernias have no accompanying clinical signs. The signs most commonly associated with hiatal hernias include vomiting, regurgitation, excessive salivation, blood in the vomit and difficulty breathing. These signs are more often to occur during excitement and/or exercise.
When it's time to feed your dog after surgery try offering your pet a light meal (1/4 or 1/2 of regular meal) such as chicken and rice which can be easier to digest than regular store bought dog food.
Most people are able to return to work within 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. But if your job requires that you do heavy lifting or strenuous activity, you may need to take 4 to 6 weeks off from work. You may shower 24 to 48 hours after surgery, if your doctor okays it.