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Why Do Dogs Not Have a Belly Button?

 

If you are wondering why do dogs not have a belly button, you may have been scratching your dog’s belly and noticed a lack of belly button. Sure, in humans belly buttons are quite noticeable, so you would assume the same would apply to dogs. You may have therefore tried to look for it everywhere wondering if perhaps it’s hiding somewhere along all that fur, but with no luck. So what’s the deal with dog belly buttons? Must you go on a belly button treasure hunt or should you just shrug your shoulders and assume dogs don’t have one? Is your dog the canine impersonification of Karolina Kurkova, the famous supermodel who reportedly is belly bottom-less? Here at Why do Dogs we have decided to investigate the matter.

What’s Up with Those Buttons?

Before going on our belly button treasure hunt, we decided that a good place to start is by learning what a belly button really is. First off, to be precise, the medical term for belly button is “navel,” or if you wish to be more clinically precise, you can call it “umbilicus.” Colloquially though, we’ll stick to the word belly button in this article. What is a belly button? Turns out, it’s scar tissue that formed at the umbilical cord’s attachment site. The belly button in other words is a remnant of the good old days when you were in your mom’s belly and your umbilical cord was connected to your mom’s placenta so you could be supplied with oxygenated, nutrient rich blood.




Present in Placental Mammals

Since the belly button is reminiscent of having an umbilical cord attached to a placenta, all animals known for being placental mammals must have a belly button. According to the University of California Museum of Paleontology, placental mammals are animals that, before birth, are nourished through a placenta. This means that animals who hatch eggs aren’t considered placental mammals, nor are marsupials like kangaroos who incubate their young in a pouch, explains Stacy Hackner, a PhD student at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. So humans, cats, dogs and many non-egg laying farm animals such as cows, goats and sheep do have a belly button. It all sums up to this easy equation: when there’s a history of an umbilical cord, there’s a belly button.

Location, Location, Location

Just because you don’t see your dog’s belly button, doesn’t mean it’s not there. The belly button is mostly visible when dogs are puppies, briefly after the umbilical cord detaches. Then, as puppies grow, the belly button tends to become less and less visible, until it’s covered with hair and has become so small you can hardly detect it. Unlike our belly buttons though, a dog’s looks like a small, barely visible white line or a scar. For many dogs, the only proof of its existence is that little tuft of hair you may notice right below the end of the ribcage.

Pushing the Wrong Button

Puppies do not normally have “outie” belly buttons that stick out, if you notice one that sticks out, you’re likely dealing with an umbilical hernia, explain Caroline Coile and Margaret H. Bonham in the book “Why do Dogs Like Balls.”  This usually happens when some fat or a portion of the intestine protrudes through the abdominal wall. Typically, the soft bulge can be pushed back into the abdomen, but as soon as the pressure is removed, the bulge backs out again.

Umbilical hernias in puppies can become problematic when a loop of the intestines become trapped, explains veterinarian Debra Primovic. This becomes an emergency situation where surgery is immediately needed. If the hernia isn’t causing complications and is small,  it may spontaneously regress or the hernia may be repaired at the time the pup is spayed or neutered. If your puppy has an umbilical hernia or an abnormal bulge, consult with your vet for recommendations.

Did you know? According to Daniel McGee, M.D., a pediatrician at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, contrary to popular belief, in humans “outies” have nothing to do with how the umbilical cord was clamped, but are rather a matter of  extra scar tissue.