Humans have a very noticeable bully button. It is essentially a scar from where the umbilical cord is attached to you in your mother's womb and through which you received nutrients and oxygen. As one person on the internet noted, "It's basically your old mouth."
At birth, the chord is cut, and the scar that remains is your belly button. This prominent feature can either protrude (what's known as an outie) or as is most common, turns inward (an innie).
Either way, belly buttons are a standard feature in all humans. But what about cats and dogs? Do cats and dogs have belly buttons?
- Do dogs and cats have belly buttons?
- How do cat and dog belly buttons look like?
- Does a cat's or dog's belly button have a function?
- Health concerns related to dog and cat belly buttons
Do dogs and cats have belly buttons?
Most mammals have a belly button. The exceptions are marsupials and egg-laying mammals like the duck-billed platypus.
Like humans, cats and dogs (and other animals) receive nutrients from their mothers through an umbilical cord while they’re in the womb. After birth, the cord is chewed off by the mother, leaving a little stump of cord that dries up and falls off naturally, leaving a barely noticeable scar. Not at all like our innies and outies.
How do cat and dog belly buttons look like?
If you’ve just tried looking for your dog's belly button or your cat's belly button, you’ll know that they aren’t as apparent as our own. They're certainly not as easy to find as human belly buttons. Most times they can be almost invisible, so you'll need to really look hard.
Firstly, you’re probably looking in slightly the wrong place. In humans, the belly button sits lower on the abdomen than in dogs and cats. Cat and dog belly buttons lie just below the rib cage, higher up on the abdomen.
The trick with finding your cat's or dog's belly button is not to expect it to resemble yours. A cat or dog belly button is easy to miss as it’s flat against the skin. A mere scar that’s usually tucked away among the belly floof.
Does a cat's or dog's belly button have a function?
We've already covered the purpose of a belly button in most mammals. It's the scar left from where the umbilical cord was attached. While in the womb, mammals receive their nutrition and oxygen from their mother through this tube. And once they're born, the cord is cut, leaving a small scar.
Once the wound has healed and the belly button as we know it forms, there isn't any real purpose to the belly button, other than to remind us of how we were nourished and taken care of before coming into the world.
Health concerns related to dog and cat belly buttons
As belly buttons aren't a functional part of your dog or cat's body, there isn't very much that can go wrong with them. The most common belly button concern affecting dogs and cats is an umbilical hernia.
According to research, umbilical hernias are the most common type of hernia in dogs and cats and are typically identified in kittens and puppies. A hernia happens when there's a weakness or a hole in the muscle through which the contents of the abdomen begin to push through. Often these hernias are congenital, which means they are present from birth, but an injury can also cause them.
How can I tell if my kitten or puppy has an umbilical hernia? An umbilical hernia in cats and dogs will appear as a small bump in the area of your pet's navel. If you notice this, we'd recommend that you head to your vet to ensure that the hernia doesn't get bigger or lead to further health problems.
Suppose your kitten or puppy has an umbilical hernia and it requires surgery. In that case, the best time to do this (outside of an emergency) is when they get spayed or neutered to limit the number of hospital visits and anesthesia needed.
Do dogs have belly buttons?
Dogs do have a belly button or navel. It won't resemble your own belly button, but it's there. Look for a round, flat scar on your dog's tummy beneath the rib cage.
Where are dogs' belly buttons?
A dog's belly button is located on the abdomen, just below the rib cage. Your dog's navel isn't as obvious to find as your own. You may need to hunt through the fur to find it.
Do cats have belly buttons?
Cats do have a belly button which is a small, flat scar on your cat's abdomen. It's often hard to find because it's not as obvious as a human belly button. It's usually located below the rib cage on the tummy, but because it's so flat and usually surrounded by floof, it can be hard to find at first.
What do I need to know about hernia in dogs?
Umbilical hernia in dogs is quite common, with 90% of cases present from birth. Most umbilical hernias in dogs are harmless, but in rare cases, a portion of the intestine can become trapped and cut off from the blood supply. In such cases, emergency surgery is typically required.
Umbilical hernias are just one type of hernias in dogs. There are five common types of hernias in dogs, including:
- Umbilical hernia;
- Perineal hernia;
- Inguinal hernia;
- Diaphragmatic hernia;
- Hiatal hernia.
How serious is a cat hernia?
If your cat has a bulge or protrusion near its belly button, it's likely an umbilical hernia. This kind of hernia is usually common in kittens and, in most cases, closes on its own by the time the kitten is around four months.
If your young kitten has one, it's always a good idea to get it checked out by a vet, but it's most often not anything to worry about. If the bulge begins to worsen or seems to cause your kitten pain, your vet may recommend surgery to fix the weakness in the muscle, preventing the bulging from worsening or recurring later on.
Complications can arise from an umbilical hernia, including blockages, strangulation of organs and tissue, and even infection, so it's a good idea to keep a close eye on your cat's hernia.
Can a dog live with a hernia?
In young puppies, an umbilical hernia may grow closed on its own. In this case, your dog may go on to have a very normal hernia-free life. It's common, though, for hernias to worsen or return later in life.
We would encourage you to see a vet as a hernia in dogs can turn nasty and may require emergency surgery.
Do dogs have belly buttons that stick out?
Dog belly buttons are not as prominent as our own. In fact, finding your dog's belly button can be a little tricky because it's just a small, flat scar on their abdomen.
If your puppy's belly button is protruding, it's likely an umbilical hernia, and you should get that check out by a vet. In young puppies, hernias can go away on their own, but we wouldn't recommend relying on that.
Is umbilical hernia in cats dangerous?
Most umbilical hernias in kittens pose no threat; however, in some cases, part of the intestines can become trapped, cutting off the blood flow to this area. In such cases, emergency surgery is usually the only solution.
If you suspect your cat or kitten has an umbilical hernia, it’s best to get it seen by a vet who can advise the best course of action.
Should I get a puppy if it has an umbilical hernia?
If you want to welcome a new puppy or kitten into your family, an umbilical hernia shouldn't stop you. Most umbilical hernias in puppies and kittens don't require treatment – they're very common. Umbilical hernias may sometimes require surgery to repair a more severe hernia.
Once your dog or cat has had surgery to repair the hernia, they can continue to live a very happy and healthy life.
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