Do Dogs Have Belly Buttons?
Do dogs have belly buttons? It’s a question you may not have considered before, but while in the company of a friends inquisitive five year old child, it was one of the many seemingly unanswerable questions he had asked me since meeting my rescue dog for the first time. From “What’s he dreaming about?” to “what is the wet nose for?”, I had heard them all that day! In fact, you may be here because your own child has asked you the very same thing. So do dogs really have belly buttons? And if so, where is it?
Which Animals Have Belly Buttons And Why?
Mammals can be split into three categories, depending on how they reproduce. Placental (gestate their young internally), marsupial (offspring develops partly outside of the mother’s body) and monotremes (lay eggs). Placental animals will all have belly buttons, as it is the umbilical cord which attaches the fetus to the placenta.
Dogs are placental animals who give birth to multiple, helpless young. It is during and shortly after the birth that the mother will severe the umbilical cord which is connected to individual placentas for each puppy, chewing it off close to the body of the pup.
Humans typically have an “innie” or an “outie” due to the practice of tying the umbilical cord before cutting. This causes the shape of the belly buttons that we all know and love! It is because the umbilical cord is chewed off during the process of cleaning the pups that the belly button on your dog is flat, flush to the skin and only visible as a light scar, as opposed to our much more visible navals.
Exactly Where Is My Dog’s Belly Button?
It may come as no surprise, but dogs are very much physiologically difference from humans. A dog’s belly button is located just below the rib cage, and above where the abdomen begins. It is the same placement for both male and female dogs.
Take a look now - can you see that slight discolouration? There is no danger of belly button fluff for man’s best friend! The belly button of a dog is best viewed in very young pups, before puppy hair grows over the scar and makes it hard to find. Often in adult dogs, the hair will grow in a different pattern where the belly button is.
Applying light pressure with your fingers to your dog belly button area will make it easier to find. You can often feel a small “knot”, or scar tissue, just below the skin. This should not cause any discomfort or pain to your pet, however if it does then you should mention this at your next veterinary checkup.
If your dogs belly button is prominent or bulging then it may be cause for concern, as this could be a herniated belly button. There should be no smell coming from your dogs belly button, nor should your dog pay any extra interest in grooming this area, as this can be a sign that there is discomfort coming from this area.
Herniated Belly Button
An umbilical hernia, or herniated belly button, can be classified as complicated or uncomplicated. Any bulge from the belly button in new puppies should be assessed by your veterinarian to determine which type your puppy has.
Complicated umbilical hernias can contain internal organs, such as a loop of the intestines, which then becomes trapped. Uncomplicated umbilical hernias are often small and soft and may come and go.
Complicated umbilical hernias often cause other symptoms which may be cause for concern, such as pain and warmth at the swelling site, vomiting, lack of appetite and general depression and lethargy. Surgery is often necessary to close the hernia, and a course of anti-biotics to reduce the chances of complications are often prescribed. Without treatment, a complicated umbilical hernia can be life threatening.
Uncomplicated umbilical hernias will heal and disappear without treatment. They are often small, squishy lumps on the dogs naval that can change in size and shape, and often disappear for days at a time. Your vet can tell you which kind of hernia your dog has, so be sure to get them checked out when you first notice symptoms!
Can You Really Judge A Species By It’s Belly Button?
Humans as a species are complicated, deep and vary in size, color and shape. The same can be said for our belly buttons! While our loving canine family members may not necessarily have the same diversity in their naval scars, it’s worth checking your dog’s belly button now, if anything they will love the random excuse for belly scratches!
Some animals seem to have belly buttons when in fact it is just part of their reproductive organs. Hedgehog males have what appears to be a large belly button, in exactly the place you would imagine a belly button to be. This is however the hedgehogs penis, and is the easiest way to tell which sex your hedgehog is!
You may be surprised to find out that whales, dolphins and porpoises also have a belly button, being placental mammals. The mother will snap off the umbilical cord with a sharp turn, shortly after giving birth. The calves are born tail first, so as to avoid drowning. So you can see, there is so much to learn about the inconspicuous belly button!
Have you just discovered your pup’s belly button for the first time? Has your pet suffered from an umbilical hernia in the past? Have an interesting naval fact to share? Let us know in the comments!