- Client: Mary and her 7-week-old Border Collie cross, Tinkerbell
- Reason for contacting Bayside Mobile Vet: Routine puppy vaccination
Initial home visitT
inkerbell was given to Mary as a present by some friends. An appointment was made with Dr Natasha for a routine puppy vaccination. As with all vaccinations, a comprehensive physical examination was performed and Dr Natasha noticed that there was a small, soft lump protruding from Tinkerbell’s abdomen. She was able to diagnose this as an umbilical hernia.
In the uterus, puppies and kittens receive nutrients from their mother via the umbilical cord, which connects through a small hole in the puppy or kitten’s abdomen. Following birth, the cord is cut and the stump eventually falls off, leaving the small hole to close over. This usually happens in the first few days of life; however, it is not uncommon for the umbilicus (or ‘belly button’) to remain open, especially in puppies.
The majority of umbilical hernias are small and unlikely to cause a problem in young animals. It is generally recommended that they are repaired when the animal is desexed. If left unrepaired (or if the hernia is large in size to begin with), there is a risk that abdominal contents (e.g. intestines) could push through the hole and have their blood supply cut off, causing serious problems and even death. In some animals, the umbilical hernia may grow and require surgical correction prior to desexing. This was the case with Tinkerbell, with her hernia growing between her first and second puppy vaccinations.
inkerbell underwent surgery to repair the umbilical hernia one week after her second puppy vaccination. Dr Natasha picked her up on the day of the surgery, administered a general anaesthetic and carefully incised through the skin to reach the hole. She then sutured the hole closed before suturing the overlying skin back together with dissolving sutures. Once Tinkerbell had completely woken up from the anaesthetic, Dr Natasha dropped her off at home with care instructions for Mary. Tinkerbell will have her wound checked in three weeks, at her final puppy vaccination. She will not require ongoing care.