Umbilical Hernia in Dogs

Umbilical hernia in dogs can be a relatively minor condition, if it's examined and treated promptly. A hernia in a dog occurs when the inner parts of the stomach actually extend beyond the abdominal wall. In this case, the hernia occurs at the site of the umbilical cord. There is no way to prevent an umbilical hernia from developing, but treatment options for this type of hernia are great and most dogs can recover successfully from an umbilical hernia.

Causes of an Umbilical Hernia

A normal umbilical is open so that a mother can nurture the puppy while he resides in the womb. Shortly after birth and under normal conditions, the umbilical area closes because it is no longer needed and infection is prevented by its closure. If the umbilical remains open and does not close properly, a hernia will develop as the inside of the abdomen will no longer have the abdominal wall which secures it into place.

The true cause of an umbilical hernia, or the inability of the umbilical area to close properly, is not something that medical science has been able to pinpoint. The only connection between umbilical hernia and dogs appears to be that the condition is inherited genetically and thus cannot be stopped or prevented.

Symptoms of an Umbilical Hernia

An umbilical hernia in a dog will usually be quite obvious, as the stomach will appear to have a significant jelly-like lump at the site of the umbilical cord. The lump, or hernia, is actually in the insides of the stomach protruding past the abdomen and seeking release because there is nothing to hold them back. In most cases, the hernia will start off small and will grow until it's cared for medically.

Some dog owners may notice that the umbilical hernia is sensitive to touch and warm. This usually does not happen until the hernia has been present for a while and the protrusion begins to get bigger. If a dog is experiencing significant pain as a result of this, it's time to visit the veterinarian.

Diagnosing an Umbilical Hernia

Diagnosis of the umbilical hernia must be done carefully and accurately to ensure proper treatment. A general physical examination will make it very obvious that an umbilical hernia is present. The extent of the internal damage can only be determined by a sonogram.

An umbilical hernia can become strangulated - meaning that the intestines in the abdomen have become twisted and tangled. As a result, blood circulation to them is cut off. This can be a dangerous situation and a sonogram can confirm this instance.

Treatment of an Umbilical Hernia

Not all umbilical hernias will require surgery for treatment. Hernias that are small and do not appear to be doing any damage will likely grow back together on their own as the dog ages. If the hernia is small enough and does not repair itself, there may be no cause for surgery if the umbilical hernia is not causing any supplemental damage.

In other cases, when the umbilical hernia is large or appears to be strangulated, the only effective way to repair it is surgically. In this case, a small mesh lining will be placed in between the contents of the stomach and the abdomen, which will effectively keep the contents of the stomach and intestines in place. This type of surgery can only be done under general anesthesia, and most dogs will recover just fine without any side effects or future hernia problems.