What's Wrong With My Dog's Tail?
What the Heck Is Wrong With His Tail?
You get home one afternoon with your dog. Perhaps he's been out swimming all day. Perhaps he's been playing with a dog friend. Perhaps you've spent the weekend elsewhere with him, and he's been running around with kids and having a great time.
Then, you notice your dog's tail is not moving. It's hanging at an odd angle, and if it moves or anyone touches it, your dog winces or growls and tries to protect it. The first three or so inches of the tail stick straight out back, but the rest of the tail hangs down like an old sock.
The tail won't wag, it won't move, and your dog seems very depressed and pained.
Is your dog's tail broken? Probably not.
So if It's Not Broken...?
Most likely, given this circumstance, your dog's tail is not broken. Your dog probably has a condition called a variety of interesting names: limber tail, cold tail, flaccid tail, lab tail, and most pathetically, broken wag.
Broken wag is basically sprained tail-wagging muscles, the ones at the top side of the base of the tail.
The condition is usually not serious, although it can be somewhat painful, and will generally rectify itself within a week or less without human help.
What Causes It?
This problem is sometimes called "cold tail" because it will occur when a dog goes swimming in cold water. If the tail muscles are not properly warmed up, they can become sprained. This will usually be seen when a dog goes for his first long swim after a cold winter.
This may occur even in warmer water when a dog is not conditioned to swim and he overworks his tail muscles. This problem is sometimes called "lab tail" because Labrador Retrievers use their tails as rudders and may have this problem more frequently.
Some dogs may get this any time their tails are exposed to water, even in the bathtub.
Some dogs get this after a period of excitement or fun, when vigorous tail wagging is almost mandatory. The tail muscles simply can't handle all the stress, and a sprain occurs.
A dog that has had this problem once is more prone to getting it again. It will usually take less strain to restart the problem than it did to cause it the first time around.
What Can I Do to Help?
Some vets will prescribe an anti-inflammatory such as Rimadyl for the dog.
Arnica montana and Traumeel are homeopathic remedies that may help and do not have any side effects. They can be gotten over the counter in a health food store or on Amazon.
Applying a warm pack to the base of the tail a few times a day for ten minutes will help. Place a towel between the dog and the warm pack, and check often to make sure the dog is comfortable and the pack is not so hot that it hurts him.
Please do not give the dog Tylenol as this can be very harmful to the dog. Do not give the dog any human pain relievers without asking a vet for advice first.