The belly button is found on every mammal and is the connecting point between the umbilical cord and the mother; in the case of dogs, it is found on their bellies before their groin.
The belly button of a dog may be hard to find due to all the fur on their body and because it is a small, flat scar on their stomach. In smaller dog breeds, their belly button is covered by a swirl of hair and it may be noticeable.
Just like a newborn baby, an infant puppy grows an umbilical cord in the womb of his mother. The cord is essential to its development through the incubation period. After the puppy is born, the mother either chews off the cord or the dog owner cuts it off.
What if there is a protruding belly button on a dog?
A dog’s belly button is usually small and unnoticeable. If a dog has a protruding belly button, that may be a cause for concern as it could indicate a condition called an umbilical hernia.
An umbilical hernia occurs when the contents of the abdomen remain in the belly button (known as a reducible umbilical hernia) or when the opening in the abdomen is not healing correctly after the umbilical cord falls off. Another description of the hernia is when a small amount of fat closes around the umbilical area and body wall (known as nonreducible umbilical hernia).
A nonreducible hernia does not cause any issues for the puppy, so it may not need any professional help. However, the reducible umbilical hernia needs to be treated. This is usually done when dogs are neutered or spayed.
When a puppy suffers from a hernia, the puppy’s intestines can begin to pop out from the opening. Sometimes they pop back in, they kink, or they herniate.
This is painful and dangerous to the health of the puppy. If left untreated, it can cause severe damage, so taking a pet to see a veterinarian to treat these complications is vital. The situation can be contained by surgery performed when the puppy is anesthetized.
Why do dogs have an umbilical cord?
Dogs have umbilical cords because they are part of the placental mammals family. The cord serves the same function as its human counterpart; while the puppy is in its mother’s womb, the cord connects the puppy to its mother from its abdomen.
It is from this cord that the puppy receives nutrients and oxygen in utero as well as removes waste such as carbon dioxide. Until it is born, the puppy needs the umbilical cord to stay alive.
How puppies are born
The dog can give birth to its puppy in different ways. Sometimes the head comes out first, and sometimes the legs are first, but there is nothing wrong with this. When a puppy is born with its head first and extended forelegs, this is called an anterior presentation.
When the puppy is born with its tail and hindlegs coming out first, it is called a posterior presentation. When the puppy is born with the rear and bottom coming out first, with its hind legs extended forward, that is known as breech presentation.
This is an abnormal situation and would require a C-section surgery and the help of a vet to complete the birth process. If during the process of birth, the puppy’s tail is seen hanging from the vulva and the mother is straining in pain, a veterinarian should be called, because the dog may need surgery to complete the birth process.
What happens after birth?
When a dog gives birth, it pushes the puppy from the womb. The puppy is born in a membranous sac attached to its mother’s placenta with the umbilical cord.
The mother removes the sac from the face of the puppy and cuts off the umbilical cord by biting through it before eating the cord. For owners helping their dog give birth, they should not let it eat more than two umbilical cords, as they tend to make her nauseous.
Dogs have an instinct to sever the umbilical cord after giving birth, but if it does not bite off the umbilical cord, the owner needs to help her; otherwise, the open part of the cord would be prone to infection.
How to cut off the umbilical cord
Tie a thread, fishing line or plain dental floss around the cord about 2 inches away from the puppy’s body. Take scissors and cut off the part of the cord on the other side of the knot.
- Make an iodine solution with salt and water or use one already made such as Triodine 7 or Vetericyn Super 7 Ultra Naval to clean off the remaining part of the umbilical cord by dipping it into the solution. This will cause the umbilical cord to dry off and fall off within days. It will also act as protection from infection and the formation of an umbilical hernia.
This article outlines not only the purposes of an umbilical cord with a dog, but also how to help a mother when it is in labor.