The umbilicus, also known as the belly button, is located on the underside of your animal just below their last set of ribs. An umbilical hernia can occur in both cats and dogs; this is caused by incomplete closure of the umbilical ring located in the muscle wall. This type of hernia can be noticed as it appears as a soft tissue swelling just beneath the skin due to the protrusion of abdominal fat or even abdominal organs through the opening. Sometimes the swelling is not always noticeable and may only appear when your animal is vocalizing, straining or whining.
The size of the herniated area can vary greatly. Small umbilical hernias have a greater chance of spontaneously closing without surgical treatment, but if an opening is still present by 6 months of age it becomes very unlikely to close naturally.
There are two types of umbilical hernias; reducible (open) and non-reducible (closed). A reducible hernia means that the protrusion can be pushed back up into the abdomen while a non-reducible hernia has an obstruction or even adhesions present causing the herniated material to be stuck in place. If your pet still has a reducible hernia present by the time you are ready to spay or neuter them, it is highly recommended to seek surgical correction to prevent any possibility of serious complications in their future. With reducible hernias, as the animal ages, there is always a chance that part of the intestines or other tissues to become trapped or even strangulated, this could lead to loss of blood flow and death to vital organs. If this occurs it is very detrimental to your animal’s health and even lead to death if the dead tissue spreads into other organs.
All umbilical hernias, regardless of their seriousness, should be diagnosed and treated by your veterinarian. Please do not hesitate to call us here at The Spay Clinic with any questions or to schedule an appointment with any concerns.