Dogs use their tails as a form of communication with other animal species, including humans. So when Fido wags in a way that seems off kilter – or worse, can’t wag at all – you know that something’s wrong.
Canine tail problems come in three basic varieties. And fortunately for dog owners, they are usually fairly easy to identify.
1. Breaks and fractures
A dog’s tail is made up of both bone and cartilage and is a continuation of the spine. This is why when your canine pal suffers a tail break or fracture, he or she may experience difficulties with balance and coordination.
A break will usually – but not always – manifest as a drooping right at the position of the break. Swelling may occur around the area. Even if there’s no outward sign of damage, the area will still be sensitive and painful to the touch. A broken tail needs to be reset immediately because bones will begin to regrow and reposition within just a few days.
2. Hair loss or sores
Canines have glands on the underside of their tails that occasionally produce fluid. This fluid can cause soreness and inflammation because it provides the moist breeding ground for bacteria to thrive.
Fleas can also congregate in the tail area, especially near the sensitive underside. If excessive irritation develops as a result of excessive biting or rubbing to get rid of the itching fleas, you will likely need to use appropriate antibacterial cream to heal the inflammation and/or sores.
3. Limber tail syndrome
This is a condition that can affect all canines, though sporting or hunting dogs are more susceptible. The tail will suddenly hang limply and an affected canine may lose the ability to wag or move the tail. He or she may develop swelling and a pattern of hair that stands up at the tail base.
Limber tail syndrome – which requires testing to properly diagnose – usually develops as a result of overexertion, climate changes, swimming, excessive exercise or even improper crating. With rest and proper medication, this condition resolves within a 24 to 48 hour period.
If your canine pal’s tail isn’t moving as it should and especially if he or she seems to be in pain, call our Pet and Bird Clinics for an appointment. Our experienced vets will get to the bottom of those tail problems so Fido can wag on in good health for years to come.