Question from Eileen Murphy
Hi I have a set of pups.all at 7wks old.took them for there vet check an she found a soft lump underneath one of the girls were her tummy is the vets said it is nothing to worry about! It is a hernia an won’t see to it unless.she gets.spayed but I am still worrying these pups.are bitchions
Answer from Shanika Winters (Online Vet)
Hi Eileen and thank you for your question regarding your puppy’s hernia, I will start by explaining what a hernia is and then discuss the treatment options.
When your puppy had her routine health check with your vet the soft lump that was felt underneath her tummy (abdomen) is what we call an umbilical hernia. A hernia is a gap or opening that should not be there. You have most likely heard of people with a hernia, this will be describing a diseased disc in their back or an area of muscle separation leading to weakness.
The abdomen of most animals is made up of the organs inside it, a layer of fatty tissue and then three layers of muscle. These muscle layers are joined by a white strip of strong tissue called connective tissue, which forms the Linea Alba, which runs along the mid line of your pet’s abdomen just underneath the skin.
In some animals like your little puppy this strong white line is not complete and there is a gap of varying size, anything from a few millimetres up to a few centimetres. Through this gap some of the contents of the abdomen may poke through and be felt as a soft lump around the region where your dog’s belly button (umbilicus) would be found.
Umbilical hernias are often first noticed when your puppy has its first check at the vets, provided the lump that can be felt is small, soft and easily pushed back into the abdomen then your vet will tell you not to worry about it. If however the lump is large, not readily pushed back into the abdomen, changes colour, texture or is painful then urgent action need to be taken.
The small soft variety of lump is often left and the owner asked to feel at it every day at home and report any changes to their vet, as you have mentioned the other option is that the gap can be surgically closed under general anaesthesia specifically to treat the hernia or when your puppy is being spayed.
It is very rare for a small umbilical hernia to become an emergency situation, I have only encountered this once where the hernia became strangulated, the small amount of abdominal fat which had pushed through the gap had twisted on its self and lost its blood supply leading to a purple firm and painful lump being felt underneath the dog. The dog came in as an emergency appointment and had surgery to remove the diseased tissue and repair the gap, she made a full recovery.
I hope that this has helped you to understand what the umbilical hernia your puppy has is and how and why we treat them. Please remember to contact your vet immediately if there is any change to the lump that worries you, we are here to help.
Shanika Winters MRCVS (Online Vet)
If you are worried about your pet, please make an appointment with your vet or use our interactive symptom guide.