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I created this blog as an instrument of what I have encountered in the world of veterinary medicine as a proud vet student. Comments and suggestions are welcome here at;


Aina Meducci 2012


The following blog posts is not genuinely from my research but through readings and citation from trusted website. I do not own any of the copyright and therefore you may use it at your own risk


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Umbilical hernia in cats

My first time seeing a cat with umbilical hernia.


Umbilical Hernia

An umbilical hernia is a condition in which abdominal contents protrude through the abdominal wall at the area of the umbilicus. Small hernias are generally not a problem. It is recommended to electively repair a larger hernia due to the risk of intestinal loop strangulation.

The exact cause of an umbilical hernia is unknown although most are thought to be inherited. It is most commonly a congenital malformation caused by flawed embryogenesis. The umbilical opening is normal until birth as it contains blood vessels that pass through from the mother to the fetus. This opening closes at birth in the normal pet and a hernia results if the opening fails to close.

Umbilical hernias are more common in dogs than cats. They occur on the midline of the abdominal wall through the umbilical ring and can be a variety of sizes from very small to very big. The hernia appears as a soft abdominal mass at the area of the umbilicus.

Depending on the size of the opening, abdominal structures such as falciform fat or omentum can float into the opening. This generally does not cause a problem. However, if the opening is large enough, an intestinal loop can become trapped which can become a life-threatening problem. For this reason, it is recommended that larger hernias be closed after diagnosis. This is most often done concurrently with the spay or castration surgery.

Some male dogs with umbilical herniation may also have the concurrent abnormality of a retained testicle, referred to as cryptorchidism.

Some breeds are predisposed to umbilical hernias; including Airedales, Pekingese, and basenji.

What to look for???

Soft abdominal mass at area of umbilicus

Signs of intestinal strangulation:

  • Larger painful hernia sac that may be warm to the touch
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal discomfort or pain
  • Anorexia
  • Depression


Definitive diagnosis of an umbilical hernia is by physical examination. Generally the contents of the hernia sack can be displaced back into the abdomen. This allows your veterinarian to determine the size of the hernia opening. The size of the hernia that is of most concern is that size which is similar to an intestinal loop. This size has the risk of allowing a loop of intestine to drop into the hernia and become trapped causing a life- threatening "strangulation". Hernias that are smaller, thus too small for a loop to enter, or larger, in which loops can freely come and go, are at lower risk for potential strangulation.


  • Small umbilical hernias may close spontaneously in young animals. Spontaneous closure may occur up to 6 months of age.

  • Some small umbilical hernias may not be repaired and pets may live their entire lives with them without any problem.

  • Larger hernias should be repaired. This repair is commonly performed at the time of the spay or neuter surgery since the pet will be already anesthetized. The surgery consists of manually reducing the contents of the hernia into the abdomen followed by the surgeon making an incision over the hernial sac. The border tissue of the hernia is removed and the abdominal wall is closed. This surgery is fairly routine. The location of the surgery for an umbilical hernia is very close to the location in which an incision is made in the body wall for a "spay" procedure in a female. For this reason, most all umbilical hernias, regardless of size, may be repaired at the same time as the spay in female pets.

Sources: Umbilical hernia in cats; www.pet-place.com

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