This is the adorable Elsa, a 9-week-old cross-breed puppy, who recently visited Uni Vets Camden for an unusual lump on her belly. This lump is known as an “umbilical hernia”, which is a failure of the closure of the muscle wall in the region of the umbilicus. During pregnancy, puppies receive their nutrients from their mother through the umbilicus. Normally after birth and severing of the umbilicus, the navel closes, along with the skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscle layer and peritoneal layer (the inner lining of the body wall).
There is a risk of internal organs, such as the intestines, poking out under the skin and being trapped within the hernia. This can be a painful and life-threatening condition requiring urgent veterinary attention. Smaller hernias which do not become entrapped, such as in Elsa’s case, can be corrected surgically at an older age assuming that the puppy is not painful or bothered by it. If you think your puppy might have an umbilical hernia, we recommend seeing one of our friendly veterinarians at Uni Vets Camden.
Written by Salvador Wolf, Final Year Veterinary Student, The University of Sydney.