Q:Ladybug, our new pitbull puppy, has a soft lump where her belly button should be. When we push on it, it disappears temporarily. What is it, and should we be concerned?
A:It sounds like Ladybug may have an umbilical hernia. Your veterinarian can do a physical exam and tell you whether it needs immediate surgical attention or can be repaired later, when she is spayed.
The lump probably contains fat that is protruding out the hole beneath her belly button. The hernia, likely inherited, formed when Ladybug was born. Normally, at birth, the umbilical cord falls off, the abdominal wall closes where the cord had been, and the skin comes together to form a belly button, or umbilicus.
However, Ladybug’s abdominal wall did not close completely, and pressure in the abdomen is forcing some of the abdominal contents out the hole. If her intestines were forced out of the abdomen, they could strangulate – an emergency that would require immediate surgery. If the hernia is small and contains only fat, and your veterinarian feels it can be repaired when Ladybug is spayed, you’ll want to monitor her closely until then.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.