There are times when you may be justified in labeling your dog a “navel-gazer” because they are obsessed with food or attention. When it comes to whether or not your dog is capable of engaging in any literal navel-gazing, though, the answer is unclear. Is it possible that dogs have belly buttons?
A seemingly trivial question, but knowing what normal looks like on your pet’s body might help you catch problems before they get worse. In order to learn more about canine belly buttons, we turned to Hancock Veterinary Services in Pineville, Mo., and their veterinarian Brandi Whittemore.
Does a dog’s stomach have a button?
Your dog does, in fact, have a belly button, Virginia! As stated by Whittemore, a belly button (or umbilicus, to be precise) is present in both dogs and cats because of the same reasons that humans have one (as well as almost every other mammal). Just a scar from where the umbilical cord used to be attached to your pet. Pregnant pups receive food and oxygen through their umbilical cord while their waste is expelled through their placenta, linked to the umbilical cord at the other end.
Once a puppy is delivered, the proud papa pup does not need to come and cut the umbilical cord. Mom’s teeth are for that purpose. The umbilical cord stump dries up and comes off within a few days, leaving a scar (i.e. belly button) in its place.
On a dog, where is the belly button?
While Whittemore says you can locate your dog’s belly button in the middle of their stomach, just beyond the rib cage and prior to the pelvis, it may not be immediately apparent. “It’s usually not round and doesn’t look like a hole,” she says. As a result, it appears as a small, flat, oval-shaped scar.
If your dog is blessed with a thick coat, it may be difficult to find its belly button. To find a small region of firm skin, you can use your hands to probe the area (indicating scar tissue).
How Do Outie Belly Buttons Affect Dogs?
Both innie and outie belly buttons are “out” for dogs when it comes to belly buttons. Whittemore says he’s never seen an “outie” belly button, only ones that are thicker and easier to feel and see.
If you see any lumps or bumps, it’s best to get them checked out by a medical professional. Whittemore tends to suspect one of three things in these situations:
Internal organs or other bodily parts can push through a weak point in the muscle wall or tissue that typically holds them in place, resulting in a hernia. An umbilical hernia is a form of hernia that is particularly relevant to the belly button area.
In pups, umbilical hernias can arise if the abdominal wall does not shut completely after birth. When this happens, the wall usually closes on its own without any complications. A puppy’s intestines, however, can slip through the gap in some situations, making it possible for them to survive. The abdominal wall must be closed surgically to treat this problem. Without treatment, the protruding intestines may become stuck or twisted, posing a serious health risk.
An abscess is a collection of pus that is frequent in dogs and is a common occurrence. Your pet’s skin is likely to be reddish and swollen beneath the surface of its skin with a warm and unpleasant sensation to the touch. The most common cause of abscesses is a skin break (e.g. scratch, bite wound). It is possible for germs to become trapped in a pocket of pus while the dog’s body tries to fight the illness by healing the wound.
It’s important to keep in mind, according to Whittemore, that the belly button is particularly vulnerable to abscesses while the umbilical cord is still drying, as germs can enter through the remnants of the umbilical cord. A veterinary practitioner must be called in to drain and clean abscesses. The veterinarian may also prescribe an antibiotic to fully relieve the pup of infection.
Toxic tissue growths are known as tumors, and they are more common in older pets, according to Whittemore. It is possible for tumors to be both benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous), such as mast cell tumors. A simple procedure known as a fine needle aspirate is commonly used to diagnose tumors. Veterinarians use a small needle to extract cells from the mass and examine them under a microscope. The type of tumor and the degree of its severity dictate the course of treatment.
Whatever the age of your dog, if you notice something that appears like an outie belly button on your pet, don’t dismiss it. Make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible so they can examine it.
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