An umbilical hernia is the protrusion of abdominal contents beneath the skin at the navel (umbilicus).
The umbilicus is the healed scar (“belly button”) in the mid abdominal area. It marks the opening through which the prenatal blood vessels and other fetal structures passed before birth. After the umbilical cord is cut at birth, the opening rapidly closes. Occasionally, however, it does not close completely, and an opening in the abdominal wall remains.
The danger of a hernia is the potential entrapment of intestines through this opening. If the hernia interferes with the blood supply to the trapped bowel, passage of food through the bowel is blocked. Also, the strangulated tissue dies and releases toxins that may kill the animal.
Hernias can be hereditary and affected animals should not be bred.
Important Points in Treatment
Small hernias: Most small hernias are no danger to your pet’s health. They usually consist of a small amount of abdominal fat poking through the body wall. Some may even close before the animal reaches maturity - therefore, no treatment is necessary. Hernias are easily corrected in female dogs at the time of spaying (ovariohysterectomy), so if there is a small concern with a bitch, surgery is often delayed to coincide with the anesthetic performed for the neutering.
Large hernias: These hernias may be very serious, since a portion of intestine may become entrapped and its blood supply cut off. Immediate surgery is recommended in these cases.
Your pet has an umbilical hernia.
Notify your veterinarian if any of the following occur:
You observe redness and tenderness at the hernia site.
Your pet vomits or shows sudden signs of distress.
Your pet has painful or difficult bowel movements.