When Your Dog Injures the Tip of its Tail: A Simple, Homemade Remedy
Happy Tail is not an Easy Thing to Heal
One day, when I bent down to pick something up off the kitchen floor, I noticed a red splatter across the refrigerator. What is that, I wondered. Ketchup?
Then I noticed more splatter on the cabinets, across the front of the oven, along the wall, and more on the pantry door, which is next to the entry where we usually come into the house. I cleaned it up, realizing then that it was actually blood but couldn't find the source. I checked both dogs--their paws, faces, sides. Nothing.
Then I cleaned more blood spatter all over the house, even some high on the walls.What was it doing up there? I had visions of a horror movie.
Soon, my husband came home and, as usual, was jumped on and licked by two excited pooches. And that's when he noticed Remmy's tail. The tip was bright red and actively bleeding as he wagged like crazy, so happy to see one of his favorite humans, tossing more spatter all over the kitchen and flipping some about six feet high. The more excited he got, the more the room was covered in red.
Which is why it's called "happy trail" -- because the injury often happens as the dog wags with a vengeance, like our Remmy here, who runs around banging his tail like a whip on furniture, walls, appliances, doors ... ending up with a bloody stub at the end.
And talk about a tough place to bandage, not to mention a wound that keeps reopening before it ever has a chance to heal.
Well, after a few failed attempts, we finally figured out an easy way to wrap and protect Remmy's tail, which seems to have worked well and is a lot less expensive than continual trips to the vet.
Image credits: All photos on this page were taken by me, Deb Kingsbury.
First, What Doesn't Work
After basically sitting on Remmy and cleaning his wound, which he clearly noticed once he wasn't so distracted by his excitement, we tried wrapping the last few inches and the tip in gauze and securing it with medical tape.
That bandage promptly popped right off.
Then we tried wrapping from up a few inches higher with even more tape, and that lasted for only a few wags before the bandage "cone" was flipped across the room.
I've read that if you wrap the tail from near the top (near the back end of the dog), all the way to the tip, it stays on, but a) we didn't have that much gauze on hand and b) we're pretty sure that either Remmy or his sidekick, Jazzy, would promptly get busy trying to pull or chew it off.
So, we began wandering around the house to see what else we might use to wrap and protect that poor, battered tip of a tail to give it a chance to heal.
Our Homemade Dog Trail Protector - This is what finally worked....
What you're looking at is actually a piece of neoprene, which once had been part of a sleeve for a Camelbak drinking tube. We had an extra one and cut off a piece about three inches long.
This flexible material is also often used in products like wetsuits, laptop sleeves, and braces for knees, ankles, wrists, etc. and it form-fits itself snuggly but not too tightly around whatever it's on. The neoprene had enough "grab" not to slip off of Remmy's fur, even when he started wagging. And as of this writing, our homemade tail tip protector -- which is open at the end, just beyond the tip to allow for air flow but still protect it -- has been on there for four days, and Remmy hasn't attempted to get it off. So, we're assuming it's comfortable and not too tight.
In the meantime, he's been his usual wagging, nutty self, and periodic tail tip checks have shown that it's still looking good despite whacking it all over the house.
Items for Treating and Wrapping the Tail - Here's what you'll need....
This is the same neoprene tubing we found in the house, which you can buy separately. Any piece of neoprene will do, but this is nice because it's already formed into a tube.
HOWEVER ... we did cut the tubing all the way open along the side. We didn't attempt to shove it over the tip of the tail.
Medical tape adheres well to the neoprene and is nice and flexible. It's also fairly easy to tear off once you're done wrapping and doesn't peel off easily, making it harder for a dog to nibble off.
This is antibiotic, pain-relieving spray that's safe for all animals. A wounded tail can be painful and sting (pretty obvious from watching Remmy try to run away from his tail once he noticed it hurt), so a few squirts of this stuff can really help as well as fight infection.
After cleaning the wound and letting it dry for a minute, a coating of Bag-Balm will soothe the wound even more and help prevent it from drying and cracking.
Simple Steps to Patch Up a Bleeding Tail - (Simple, that is, if you can get your dog to lie still for a few minutes.)
Remmy did require being lay upon to get him to calm down and hold still long enough for us to take care of the wound, but even once he was relaxed, canine nurse Jazzy got in on the action. So, next time (and we're pretty sure there will be a next time once we remove this dressing), Jazzy will be removed from the room during this short process.
- Clean the wound with either warm water and a mild soap or some type of wound cleanser. Even contact lens solution will work, so I've heard.
Let the tip of the tail air-dry for a minute, then treat with antibacterial spray and, even better, add some Bag-Balm after that.
- Cut a piece of neoprene at least three inches long. If it's tubing like we used, I'd cut the tube open rather than try to force it onto the tail over the tip.
Place the neoprene around the tail, allowing it to extend roughly half an inch beyond the tip.
- Use medical tape to wrap and secure the neoprene securely but not too tightly. We found we were able to really get it snug without it seeming to bother our dog. The neoprene provided enough padding that the tape didn't constrict his tail.
Don't tape over the open end of the neoprene.
- Check the tail daily for any sign of infection. If the tail doesn't quickly appear to be healing -- or if the wound looks "substantial" once you've cleaned it and can get a good look at it -- contact your vet. Minor tail wounds can bleed a lot, so clean it well and get a good look at it to determine the extent of the cut or split.