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Do Dogs Have Belly Buttons? Canine Anatomy Explained

Written by: Adam Mann

Last Updated on January 29, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog lying on the grass showing its belly

Do Dogs Have Belly Buttons? Canine Anatomy Explained

When you’re looking at your dog or giving them belly rubs, you’ve likely never seen a belly button that looks like ours. But is that because they don’t have one or simply because they’re harder to find?

The truth is that dogs do have belly buttons, but vets usually call them the umbilicus, and they don’t look the same as a human’s. The umbilicus is the same thing as a belly button, it just has a different name. But where is the umbilicus, what’s it for, and do you ever need to worry about it? We’ve answered all those questions and more for you below.

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The Truth About Dog Belly Buttons

Dogs are placental mammals just like humans, and because of this, they have belly buttons. A dog’s belly button acts as a way for them to receive nutrients when they’re still developing and before they’re born, which is the exact same thing a human’s belly button does via the umbilical corn. After they’re born, a dog’s belly button really doesn’t do much, but it’s still a part of their anatomy.

Puppy belly button
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

Why Do Dogs Have Belly Buttons?

When humans are born, the placenta sac breaks before the baby is born. However, with dogs, puppies are born inside the placenta sac. Wild puppies need to tear open the sack and chew off the umbilical cord.

What’s left behind is a small bit of the umbilical cord, which eventually dries up and falls off. This leaves behind a small scar, which is the dog’s belly button. These scars typically heal almost completely flat, with nothing but a small slit forming the belly button, unlike humans with all sorts of depths, shapes, and sizes. But even though they’re less obvious, they’re still technically there.

Finding Your Dog’s Belly Button

Finding your pet’s belly button isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially as they get older. You can find a dog’s belly button on their abdomen just like yours, but their belly button is usually almost completely flat against their body.

They have one long vertical slit of scar tissue, but unless you’re specifically looking for it, it’s pretty easy to miss. Complicating matters further is the fact that a dog’s fur often covers up the belly button, making them even harder to spot.

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When Should You Worry About Your Dog’s Belly Button?

A dog’s belly button should not protrude like an outie on a person, and if it is, then it’s a sign of a serious underlying medical condition and you need to take them to the vet right away. Some common health issues you need to worry about if your dog’s belly include:

dog Umbilical Hernia
Image Credit: Firn, Shutterstock

Hernia

A hernia is when an internal organ is pushing on your pup’s skin, and it’s a painful and life-threatening condition without immediate treatment. If your dog has a hernia, they might need emergency surgery. Don’t put it off no matter the day or time; get them to a vet as soon as possible.

Abscess

An abscess is when pus starts to form under their skin, and it’s common for younger puppies to develop abscesses as the umbilical cord dries and starts to fall off. You need help from a vet to treat an abscess, and they’ll likely need to get an antibiotic to treat the infection.

Tumor

This is often a worst-case scenario for older pets, as a tumor usually indicates that a dog has cancer. While it’s possible to treat cancer in older dogs, it’s also very expensive and simply not worth the quality-of-life degradation for your dog.

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Final Thoughts

While a dog’s belly button might not be as obvious or as visible as ours, they still have one. It’s nothing you really need to worry about, but if you start noticing anything abnormal in their belly area, don’t ignore it, as it could be the difference between life and death for your pup!


Featured Image Credit: Daxiao Productions, Shutterstock

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