What is Umbilical Hernia in Dogs? Can Bulldogs Get it?

What is umbilical hernia in dogs? This is an outward bulging of a portion of the abdomen around the belly button or umbilicus. Umbilical hernia can be detected at an early age, though it’s genetic and can’t be prevented.

Like humans, canines can develop an umbilical hernia. Nevertheless, there’s a way to treat the condition, but early detection is crucial for a positive prognosis.

Below, I talk about this condition, how to diagnose your dog, and the treatments it entails.

What is umbilical hernia in dogs?

what is umbilical hernia in dogs
Photo Credits – Wag Walking

An umbilical hernia is a protrusion on the abdominal wall. These bulging tissues are supposed to be kept inside the said wall, but a defect pushes it outward. It often occurs on the weak connective tissue or muscle around the belly button.

Moreover, umbilical hernias vary in severity. Small umbilical hernias aren’t serious and can be fixed by pushing back the protrusion properly.

However, the worst cases will lead the intestines and internal organs of a Bulldog to pass through the hole. This will cause a slew of complications as the hernia restricts proper blood flow and function of the organs. If not treated, severe hernias will be life-threatening to Bulldogs and all breeds, for that matter.

Aside from that, umbilical hernias are often observed in puppies. Its cause is mainly genetic, as the umbilical ring fails to close properly before the birth of the canine. This will cause mild swelling on the skin, which is why some newborn pups will cry and strain more than the rest of the litter.

Overall, umbilical hernias can be as small as 1 cm or larger than 1 inch in diameter. Some cases of umbilical hernias in dogs will close on their own after four months. But if your Bulldog’s hernia didn’t close after that period, it’s often a candidate for a surgical correction.

In this video, Dr. Dave shows us how Gracie the puppy’s hernia got treated:


Breeds susceptible to umbilical hernia

Generally, Bulldogs are more at risk of developing hiatal hernia. This is a condition in which the top part of the stomach protrudes through an opening in the diaphragm. Nevertheless, it doesn’t discount the fact that Bulldogs can still develop an umbilical hernia.

Aside from the Bulldog breed, the following have a high risk of developing umbilical hernia:

  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Pomeranian
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Maltese
  • Bull Terrier
  • West Highland Terrier
  • Collie

Whether you’re getting a Bulldog or any breed, you should always ask for a complete health check. You can also manually check the canine’s abdomen to spot any protrusion or swelling that may indicate the presence of a hernia.

Causes of umbilical hernia in Bulldogs

As with any breed, umbilical hernia is mostly due to a congenital defect. The affected Bulldog acquired it during the gestation period where its umbilical ring didn’t close prior to whelping.

Umbilical hernia can be a spontaneous problem, or it could be passed on by one of the parents. If you’re buying a Bulldog from a breeder, make sure that the parents aren’t affected by umbilical hernia. Otherwise, there’s a high chance that at least one of the puppies will have the same defect.

Another potential culprit is trauma. If your Bulldog got hit by a car or any forceful object, it could create a tear on the abdominal wall. This could lead the belly button and other internal organs to herniate. Nevertheless, this is quite rare, but it’s the usual scenario if Bulldogs develop hernia later in life.

Signs of umbilical hernia in Bulldogs

what is umbilical hernia in dogs
Photo Credits – Pets in Stitches

If you’re worried that your Bulldog has an umbilical hernia, the following are the signs you should watch out for:

  • Unusual mass on the abdomen or groin area
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Straining while urinating
  • Poor appetite
  • Coughing
  • Irregularities on the heartbeat
  • Discomfort when gently pressing the abdomen area

To diagnose an umbilical hernia, it’s best to bring your Bulldog to the vet. The veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical exam to spot any abnormal mass that could be a hernia.

To support the findings, the vet will perform an ultrasound test and x-rays to see what the hernia looks like inside. This will also let the vet see what’s inside the hernia, which is crucial in planning the corrective surgery.

Taking a look inside your Bulldog’s hernia will also determine the severity of the defect.

Treatment for umbilical hernia in Bulldogs

The good news is that most cases of umbilical hernia can be treated through a surgical procedure. Still, the vet will wait until the time of spaying to see whether the hernia will close on its own or not.

If not, most vets will suggest fixing the hernia at the same time as neutering or spaying. This way, your Bulldog will only go under the knife once.

Once the veterinarian has removed the mass, he or she will close the hernia with sutures. You’ll have to take your Bulldog to the vet for follow-up checks. Depending on the suture type the vet used, you need to set another appointment to have the stitches removed properly.

If the corrective surgery is a success, most dogs affected by umbilical hernia will have a good prognosis. Only a few suffered from complications. Still, you should keep in touch with your Bulldog’s vet to ensure fast healing.

Preventing umbilical hernia

Most cases of hernia aren’t preventable. Breeds predisposed to this condition can have spontaneous umbilical hernia even if both the parents are healthy.

If your Bulldog had an umbilical hernia, it’s important to have it spayed/neutered. Dogs with defects should never be bred because the puppies will only acquire the same problem.

And if you’re planning to purchase a Bulldog puppy, you must ask for a health certificate. This should include checks for hernia and other common health problems. You should only deal with legitimate breeders with permits and recognition from the American Kennel Club (AKC).

With that, there’s no real way to prevent hernia. Being proactive upon diagnosis is the best move to give your Bulldog the best care possible for its condition.

Cost of umbilical hernia surgery

The cost of surgery to correct umbilical hernia varies widely. It depends on the clinic where you’re going to bring your Bulldog. Elite pet hospitals will surely charge more than a local trusty clinic.

If the hernia surgery will be conducted separately from spaying/neutering, it cost you around $150 to $400. However, if your Bulldog is also suffering from complications and infections, this cost will be higher than $500.

Since Bulldogs can develop a hernia at any point, you should consider getting pet insurance. There are a few insurance companies that will cover this condition.

Tips to help your Bulldog recover from hernia

After the surgery, you need to take good care of your dog for a smooth recovery. Here are some tips you can follow:

  • Reduce exertion. Right after the procedure, you shouldn’t let your Bulldog jump or exert too much. Too much force can cause the abdominal stitches to come off, which can cause a myriad of problems. Try to keep your dog calm and avoid initiating playtime.
  • Separate them from other pets. If you have a multi-pet household, you should separate your newly operated Bulldog. Do this for 10 days since other pets are likely to roughhouse your injured dog. Also, other animals can trigger stress, which will slow down recovery.
  • Keep the dog leashed. If you’re taking your Bulldog out for potty breaks, keep it leashed at all times. It will also be a good idea to carry your dog out, so it wouldn’t exert too much force on the stitched area.
  • Watch out for vomiting. It’s normal for Bulldogs to vomit or have a poor appetite a few days after the hernia removal surgery. If the vomiting persists, you should call the vet. You may need to bring your dog back to the clinic, depending on the overall situation.
  • Keep the surgery area clean. It’s imperative to keep the wound area clean and dry at all times. This is to prevent infections that could occur on dirty and moist wounds. The vet will surely guide you on proper cleaning and bandaging.
  • Put the dog on a cone. After the surgery, you must keep your Bulldog on a cone or Elizabethan collar. This is to prevent the pooch from licking the surgery area.
  • Monitor the wound. If you notice that the sutures are popping prematurely or if your dog’s flesh is pushing through the sutures, you must call the vet. This may require re-stitching or other treatments.
  • Follow the vet’s prescription. After the surgery, vets will provide anti-inflammatory and pain medications to help your dog become comfortable. You should follow this religiously, so your dog will recover fast and without any hiccups.

Other types of hernias observed in dogs

Aside from umbilical hernia, Bulldogs can also develop the following types:

  • Hiatal hernia. This defect occurs in the diaphragm and stomach area. It can either be due to a congenital defect or a trauma-related injury. It’s important to have a hiatal hernia treated because it can lead to breathing problems, regurgitation, drooling, and bloody vomit.
  • Perineal hernia. This hernia occurs on the pelvis area and is often diagnosed on middle-aged dogs that aren’t neutered. It will cause the displacement of the anus, bladder, prostate, and other abdominal organs. It requires immediate treatment as with any type of hernia.
  • Inguinal hernia. An inguinal hernia forms near a Bulldog’s groin on the spot right where the leg attaches to the body. If not treated right away, this hernia will trap the uterus or bladder. This can be life-threatening if not addressed. Take note that this is very common among pregnant canines, although it can also be due to an injury.
  • Diaphragmatic. This hernia occurs when there’s a hole in the diaphragm of the canine. This hole will allow other organs to protrude to the chest cavity. Over time, it will cause breathing problems and life-threatening symptoms. This hernia type can either be congenital or injury-related.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can dogs live with an umbilical hernia?

A: Dogs can live with umbilical hernia, but it would become life-threatening as time goes by. If you want to extend your Bulldog’s lifespan, you should get the hernia treated as soon as possible. This will save your dog from unnecessary pain and discomfort. Also, this will save your pocket from a large vet bill when the hernia sustains infections.

Q: Do hernias hurt puppies?

A: Small or minor umbilical hernias won’t usually hurt puppies. However, if the bulge is more pronounced or swollen, it will likely induce pain, which will hurt a pup. Over time, the hernia will get worse, especially if part of the intestine got strangled into the opening.

Q: Can a dog get a hernia after spaying?

A: Yes, even after spaying, a dog can develop a hernia. This is largely attributed to the improper healing process as well as overexertion. Such occurrence will cause the internal stitches inside the abdominal wall to break. This will allow the intestines to bulge.

Q: Is an umbilical hernia in dogs genetic?

A: Most cases of umbilical hernia in canines are genetic. It varies in severity, and large ones usually require surgical correction. If you’re planning to get a puppy, make sure that you check for a potential hernia as well as a comprehensive health check.

Q: How long is the recovery period after a dog’s hernia surgery?

A: For surgeries, most dogs will take six weeks to a month for a full recovery. However, it also depends on the severity of the hernia and the complications that come with it. To ensure that your pooch will recover fast, you should always keep in touch with its veterinarian.

Final words

What is umbilical hernia in dogs? Hernias are very common among canines, especially for Bulldogs. Umbilical hernias, for one, are one of the dreaded problems among puppies. But with early intervention, the vet can fix this abnormal protrusion. This will prevent further complications that could put your dog’s life at risk.

Even though umbilical hernia is often diagnosed during puppyhood, you should still check your Bulldog regularly. Look for lumps and protrusions that may indicate the presence of a hernia. This way, you can prevent the problem before it becomes life-threatening.

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