Disclaimer: You might not want to read this before you plan to eat as it might be somewhat unsavory reading. You’ve been warned!
So, dogs and belly buttons, what’s it all about? Some dogs seem to be inexplicably drawn to the belly button and even more bizarrely, want to lick them! We will look into the not so strange reasons for this strange habit.
Fun Fact: Did you even realize dogs have belly buttons themselves and if you did, can you point it out on your dog?
The belly button is a crevice that can harbor unwanted smells. If your dog is taking every opportunity to lick your belly button it’s because it’s attracted to the sweat, oils, and smells being produced in there. Dogs lick their own belly button due to allergies, dry skin, boredom, or parasites.
Let’s step into the weird and wonderful world of belly buttons! We explore the attraction between the dog and the human belly button and what we can do to stop this unwanted behavior. We also take a look at dog belly buttons and how they differ from that of humankind.
Table of Contents
Do Dogs Have Belly Buttons?
The short answer is yes, all placental mammals have belly buttons. The umbilical cord does the same job in mammals as it does in humans. Puppies each have an umbilical cord that connects the mother’s placenta to the puppy’s stomach. When each pup is born the umbilical cord is instinctively chewed off by the mother which leaves a scar once healed. This leaves a scar which is essentially the belly button.
You’ll be forgiven for never noticing your pup’s belly button because they can be rather obscurely hidden by fur. They are also a lot smaller than human belly buttons due to a much smaller umbilical cord. To locate your dog’s one look in the middle of the abdomen and remember you are looking for a small flat scar. Sometimes your dog’s fur will form a tuft around the belly button so this can be a really good indication of where it lies. It will feel like a lump of firm scar tissue as that is essentially what it is.
If you can easily spot a protruding belly button on your dog however then this could be an indication of a hernia and would need to be looked at by your vet.
Why Do Dogs Lick Human Belly Buttons?
That million-dollar question: just why is your dog taking any opportunity it gets to lick your belly button?
Are any of you runners out there? Have you ever noticed when you return from a run and sit on the floor to stretch your pooch is immediately drawn to your face or legs and wants to lick them? Well, this is because of the oils and salts your sweaty face and legs produce and it’s no different for belly buttons.
Belly buttons on humans are bigger and shaped differently than dogs. Humans have either an ‘innie’ or an ‘outie’. Those with an innie effectively have a small pocket and this pocket can, unfortunately, gather all sorts of dirt, sweat, and oils throughout the day. It’s not the easiest bit of the anatomy to clean either and dogs will be drawn to any belly buttons which they can smell. If you notice your dog suddenly wanting to lick yours then giving it a good old scrub might well be the answer. To put this bluntly, your unwashed belly button smells like a dog treat to your pooch!
And ladies, there is another reason your dog may suddenly be attentive to your tummy and belly button – pregnancy. It’s widely reported that dogs can sense their owner’s pregnancy, sometimes even before they know themselves. A dog’s sense of smell is fantastic, and their noses can detect any bodily changes and new hormones. They may spend time sniffing at your tummy or affectionately lay with their head on it.
Studies have concluded that dogs can detect something called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can be detected when someone is ill. Dogs have successfully sniffed out chemicals in both prostate cancer patients and patients with diabetes. This is way up there with the amazing things dogs are capable of, right?
How To Deter Your Dog From Licking
Sometimes licking can be excessive and you need it to stop, especially if your dog is following you around trying to get your belly button! We have some tips to help put an end to this behavior. We should point out though that licking is normal dog etiquette and with any dog, it’s an opportunity for them to show affection. However, it’s important to be able to stop this behavior when necessary.
- Distraction – Give your dog something to do so that they are too busy to lick you. Providing them with a toy or playing with them for a few minutes will take their attention elsewhere. As soon as they start licking, put a toy in their mouth.
- Learning new tricks – Learning new commands can help curb these undesirable habits. Even simple ones such as “sit” will mean your dog stops licking to sit down.
- Good hygiene – We spoke earlier on about dogs being attracted to less savory smells and also the salt from sweat. So, ensure you exercise and cool down away from your dog to stop any unwanted licking and always bathe after afterward.
- Ignoring the behavior – You could just try ignoring the licking and when it occurs simply turn or walk away. If you repeat this often enough your dog might realize it has a negative impact.
- Keep your dog well stimulated – Your dog may be licking you due to boredom or anxiety so be sure to meet all their needs every day.
Is Your Dog Excessively Licking their Belly Button?
Have you noticed your dog is a bit too over-attentive with their tummy area? If so, it may be worth considering a few scenarios. Allergies can be at the root of excessive licking and this can include food allergies so it’s worth paying attention to any changes you may have made with food or bedding.
Have a look at the area and see if there are any rashes or angry-looking areas. It may just be that your dog’s skin is a bit dry and therefore itchy. Be sure you aren’t over bathing your dog or using products that are causing such issues. Dry skin can also be caused by a poor diet and other environmental factors.
Hormonal imbalances (Cushing’s Disease), parasites, or behavioral problems can all cause your dog to lick themselves too much. Regular checkups with your vets, consistent flea, and worming treatment, and tackling anxiety issues can all help these. Be sure your dog is getting adequate exercise for its age and stamina. A bored dog will become a sad dog and you will likely see obsessive behaviors form.
It’s worth examining the area well as your dog may have developed an umbilical hernia around their belly button area. If this is the case you will be able to visibly see a bulge, especially when a dog barks or strains. This happens when the umbilical ring does not close properly and causes some swelling. Should the hernia still exist when it comes to spaying or neutering your dog then intervention is recommended. This can be carried out at the same time as spaying or neutering which will be less stressful for your dog.