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While rubbing your furry friend's belly, you may wonder if your dog or cat has a belly button. The fact is yes, they do! But, their's isn't as prominent as those on humans. Almost all mammals have a belly button. Let's take a look at what it looks like, where it's located and more.
Location and Appearance
With few exceptions, mammals like cats, dogs and humans have belly buttons located on their abdomen, but birds do not. On cats and dogs, it's near the base of their rib cage, not low on their abdomen as you might expect. A belly button is actually a scar left behind after the umbilical cord is detached and then clamped. On animals, it's a small, flat scar, nowhere as prominent as most human belly buttons, which is why it's difficult to find it under all their fur on their stomach. You may feel it while giving your dog a belly rub, and if you gently part the fur on their underside, you should be able to spot your pet's navel.
The shape and size of a human belly button is determined by how the umbilical cord is cut and clamped, explains Healthline, and also the way the surrounding tissue heals, and the same goes for other mammals. On some cats and dogs, there may be a swirl of fur around their belly button or even a small navel bump, but their belly buttons do not resemble those on humans.
Function and Removal
In mammals, the umbilical cord connects the baby's abdomen to the mother's placenta (an organ that develops in the womb during pregnancy), transferring nutrients and oxygen to the baby as it grows. Once the baby is born, the umbilical cord is no longer necessary.
Human umbilical cords are removed with a surgical tool, but other pet parents must gently chew off the umbilical cord. If you are present during a birth and a mama dog is having trouble removing the cord, she'll need a human to step in and help, says the American Kennel Club and the same is true for cats. If you aren't sure how to help, always speak with your veterinarian to ensure the safety and health of your pet.
Belly Button Health Concerns
Although they rarely cause issues in an animal's day-to-day life, belly buttons can develop umbilical hernias, the most common type of hernia for dogs and cats. This type of hernia is usually identified in puppies and kittens. An umbilical hernia presents as a soft bump under your pet's navel. Some umbilical hernias can heal on their own, notes the Pet Health Network, but it's best to have your vet take a look to ensure that the hernia doesn't grow larger or pose a health problem.
Belly buttons are a quirky physical feature that you may think about only when petting a cat, dog or other furry friends, but now you know that pets do indeed have belly buttons.
Christine Brovelli-O'Brien, Ph.D., is an award-winning writer, researcher, and long-time pet mom. She's a professional member of the Cat Writers' Association (CWA) and has written for industry-leading companies and organizations. Find and follow Christine on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien