A common predisposing factor in navel infection is severing the umbilical cord too close to the abdominal wall. This leaves no stump to wither up and separate cleanly. Other possible causes are a dam with dental disease who transmits bacteria when she severs the umbilical cord, and an unclean whelping box contaminated by urine and stools. An infected navel looks red and swollen and may drain pus or form an abscess.
There is a direct communication between the umbilical cord and the liver, which makes even a low-grade umbilical infection potentially dangerous. Untreated, puppy septicemia is likely.
Treatment: At the first indication of navel infection, seek veterinary attention for antibiotic treatment. If one puppy has an umbilical infection, it may also be present in other puppies in the litter.
Iodine applied to the navel stump at birth as a preventive measure reduces the likelihood of umbilical infection.