When Your Dog Injures the Tip of Its Tail: A Simple, Homemade Remedy

Updated on April 2, 2018
Ramkitten2000 profile image

I've lived in Flagstaff since 2003, where I'm an active member of the Coconino County Sheriff's Search & Rescue team.

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.

Remmy and Jazzy
Remmy and Jazzy

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 the tip to the base (near the back end of the dog), 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.

This is the Neoprene we Used to Protect Remmy's Happy Tail

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.

Neoprene

Black Hydration Pack Insulated Drink Tube Cover
Black Hydration Pack Insulated Drink Tube Cover

We used the same kind of neoprene as pictured here, just a different color. While this photo is showing the black neoprene around the plastic tubing (and with different tips), the product sold here is just the neoprene itself.

 

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.

  1. Clean the wound with either warm water and a mild soap or a wound cleanser. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Use medical tape to wrap and secure the neoprene securely but not too tightly. (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.) We found we were able to 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.
  4. 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.

Remmy & His Little Homemade Tail Tip Protector

Remmy & His Little Homemade Tail Tip Protector
Remmy & His Little Homemade Tail Tip Protector

Questions & Answers

© 2013 Deb Kingsbury

Have you ever had to treat a dog's tail wound? - If so, how did you do it?

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    • Ramkitten2000 profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Kingsbury 

      2 weeks ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      We did the same thing. We'd try to be really calm and not even make eye contact with Remy when we'd first come home. We'd walk to the middle of the room first, where there was nothing for him to whack his tail against, and THEN greet him with our usual enthusiasm, and he'd go bonkers. The little delay definitely helped prevent happy tail.

    • profile image

      Tracy 

      2 weeks ago

      I am dealing with the "Happy Tail" now and let me say it leaves quite the murder scene. I have gotten to where when I get home I don"t immediately speak when I walk in the door and also tell him to watch his tail when I let him out of his crate and believe it or not, he apparently understands because our blood spatter has lessened, but please don't think I am being cruel by not speaking to him immediately because he is spoiled rotten, it just makes him less excited. Or I think it does anyway.

    • profile image

      Paul 

      4 months ago

      Very fortunate. Our dogs tail was injured somehow at the pound. She could wag it so fast it was never going to heal. We used 3 bandades at a time which she tolerated and changed them every 2 to 3 days. It took about 3 weeks for it to fully heal. It also took a village. Everyone in the family and friends helped shield her tail whenever in high wagging situations. The dog seemed to appreciate the help and attention.

    • profile image

      Wade 

      18 months ago

      Also I know you should not use duct tape because it won't allow the tail to breath. I have changed it every other day for a week. I only put the duct tape half way up over the gauze onto her tail meaning the end if her tail has the exposed breathable gauze. So please never wrap the complete tail with any non breathable tape.

    • profile image

      Wade 

      18 months ago

      I tried it all for 2 days but it all came off and blood everywhere. So I took liquid bandage after trimming her hair near the tip with scissors. Do not shave the hair or it will itch when growing back making a whole new issue. Yes I blew hard as I applied it 2 separate times within an hour, stuff sucks because it has alcohol but it also has medicine to help prevent infection and healing. Then I wrapped gauze. I than used duck tape wrapping it loose and than when I was at the center of her tail I squeezed it so it would stick to her hair. The tape just went over the gauze except up top where it is here tape against her hair. She's a 70 pound lab with a 90 mile per hour tail swing. It will be 7 days tomorrow and I will unwrap it. She has no fever nor do I feel any heat near her tail end so I pray no infection.

    • profile image

      Chris Anderson 

      22 months ago

      I bought the tail bandit also. My dogs tail was at the point of amputation before I tried it. This product will give you a chance to get your dogs tail to heal. My only complaint with it is the velcro only lasts about a week or so until you will need to replace it. As of this writing, my dogs tail is almost completely healed. Definitely use this product.

    • profile image

      Laurie 

      23 months ago

      Giving it a try, thank you.

    • profile image

      PKillian 

      23 months ago

      There is a new product to help with Happy Tail. I do not know if I can post links here but you can find it by searching for "Tail-Bandit".

    • profile image

      Millie A 

      2 years ago

      The groomer cut the end of my Shih Tzu dog's tail. It's only been about a week but it's been a stressful week for mostly the human owner. Due to the injury being almost on the very tip of the tail it's been a challenge to figure out how to protect the tail and keep it from bleeding. What I finally found a solution that I think works. I treated the tail with an antibiotic, secured it with a small piece of cotton and cut a soft plastic straw in half and fit it to the size of the tail and secured it with a band aid. So far so good. In reading about happy tail I am amazed that healing may take weeks to months and in some cased years!

    • profile image

      Penny UK 

      3 years ago

      This is fantastic, have just ordered some tubing on ebay and will look forward to doing 2 of our 3 dogs. So looking forward to not washing walls and even ceilings!!!! Thanks

    • Ramkitten2000 profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Kingsbury 

      3 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Thanks for your comment, Roger, but our vet (and another that we know) said what we were using was just fine. This is the type that came from a drinking tube hose. Also, neoprene is used for dog toys: http://leashandpaws.com/tag/neoprene-dog-toys/

    • Roger Duquette profile image

      Roger Duquette 

      3 years ago from Kingston, Ontario, Canada

      A nice tip. However, I'm a little bit wary about using neoprene as certain classes of it are highly toxic to animals. Especially dogs.

      http://pet-quest.com

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 

      4 years ago from Naperville, IL

      Remmy is so cute! I hope his tail is back to normal now. We've never experienced this, but thanks for the tips. Good to know!

    • profile image

      marsha-kirby-22 

      4 years ago

      my boyfriend cut the tip of my pups tail off lastnight....omg what a mess with blood the tail wags and blood flys! It was awful...I couldn't find tubing but I got the blood to stop and got it wrapped! Wow...so sad for her! thanks for the tips!

    • QuizSquid profile image

      QuizSquid 

      4 years ago

      Very resourceful!

    • MBurgess profile image

      Maria Burgess 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      I haven't had that issue yet, but am glad you shared this solution. That was smart recommending Bag Balm as it is great for healing needs for both pet and human. Beautiful doggies!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 

      5 years ago

      I was lucky not to have had to treat such a wound. I like your quirky solution!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I guess we haven't had to treat a tail wound, thank goodness. I'm amazed that Remmy (bless his heart) left the tail protector on, but maybe he did realize it made his tail feel better. You're such good dog parents! Thanks for sharing this really great tip. (Definitely no pun intended.)

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