Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

Umbilical Hernias in Puppies

Learn about umbilical hernias in dogs.

An umbilical hernia occurs when some contents of the abdomen get out through a hole in the abdominal wall at the location where the umbilical cord used to attach.

What Causes an Umbilical Hernia in a Dog?

When a puppy is in utero, an umbilical cord attaches the mother to the fetus, and nutrition and oxygen carried through it keeps the puppy alive. When the puppy is born, the umbilical cord detaches, and the hole in the abdominal wall heals over.

In the case of umbilical hernia, the hole in the abdominal wall hasn't healed correctly and remains open.

The exact cause of umbilical hernia isn't known, but many experts believe it to be hereditary, and some recommend not breeding dogs that have them.

How Is an Umbilical Hernia in a Dog Diagnosed?

A hernia is usually diagnosed during the puppy's first exam because the veterinarian can feel the protruding tissue (usually fat).

Are Umbilical Hernias Dangerous for Dogs?

Small hernias are not usually a problem for dogs, and many times, vets don't treat them explicitly. They may close over time, or, if the dog is a female, they get closed during spay surgery.

A large hernia can be dangerous because abdominal contents may poke through the hole and become stuck. This is referred to as strangulation and is especially a problem if what has come through is intestine. If a loop of intestine is strangled, it will lose blood supply and die off, resulting in life-threatening shock. Large hernias should be surgically repaired, and that's often done at the time of spay or neuter, but the hernia should be monitored closely until that time. Your veterinarian can show you how to monitor the hernia.

Contents should easily move back into the hole when gently pushed. If the bump is firm or warm or the dog is vomiting, showing abdominal pain, or not eating, surgery will be required immediately.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Dog Neutering: Is Earlier Better?

Cryptorchidism: Retained Testicles in Dogs

Sexual Behavior in Neutered Dogs

Pyometra in Dogs

Testicular Cancer in Dogs

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with

Notice: Ask-a-Vet is an affiliated service for those who wish to speak with a veterinary professional about their pet's specific condition. Initially, a bot will ask questions to determine the general nature of your concern. Then, you will be transferred to a human. There is a charge for the service if you choose to connect to a veterinarian. Ask-a-Vet is not manned by the staff or owners of, and the advice given should not delay or replace a visit to your veterinarian.