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Posted — July 03

When a Dog Breaks Its Tail

Note: If your dog is exhibiting symptoms of a broken tail or any kind of tail injury, please take your dog to the vet immediately.

 

Tails: our dogs use them to balance, to communicate, to chase in circles. But did you know dogs can break their tails?

A tail is an extension of the spine, made up of small bones held together by joints. Like any skeletal structure, these bones can break or fracture. Depending on the length, each dog’s tail can contain 5 to 23 separate vertebrae. The more bones, the higher the risk of serious injury.

 

How to Tell if Your Dog Has a Broken Tail

Were you always able to count on your dog to greet you with an enthusiastic tail wag – but lately something seems off? There could be an underlying medical problem.

Signs of a broken tail include swelling, bending and a kink in the tail. Your dog might have difficulty moving or wagging their tail or are holding it in an unusual position. Dogs often lick to soothe wounds , so watch out if your pet’s tongue and tail have become inseparable. And if your dog is whimpering or seems to be in pain, that’s usually indicative of a serious problem.

There are many reasons a dog can break its tail. From hitting it against something to getting stepped on, a lot can go wrong. As pet owners, we may not always be around when our dog injures their tail. You’ll have to use your best judgement to figure out the cause.

Here are the most common ways your dog could have injured their tail, and what you should do in each case.

 

Your Dog Could Have Limber Tail Syndrome

Sometimes called limp tail syndrome or cold-water tail, this is different from a broken tail. It’s caused by strenuous exercise or swimming in cold water (hence the name).

Tail muscles can sprain from overuse or trauma. In particular, long swimming sessions can be strenuous as the tail acts as a rudder, helping your dog swim in a straight line.

Dogs with Limber Tail Syndrome will act as if their tail is painful while carrying it between their legs. The tail will hang completely limp or will go out for three to four inches before going limp.

Working and sporting dogs are most prone to these sprains. Luckily, limp tails will usually heal on their own with rest.

 

When the Tail Breaks or Dislocates

Though limber tail syndrome can heal on its own, a limp tail could also indicate a dislocation. Dislocations are more serious injuries than sprains and are much more excruciating.

Dislocated tails are distinct from broken tails because the vertebrae get separated. With tail breaks, the vertebrae bones get fractured. Neither injury is good news.

While tails don’t hold any vital organs, an injury to your dog’s tail can be dangerous as well as painful!

Broken tails are difficult to treat at home. Fractured tail bones will begin to regrow shortly after breaking. But if the tail isn’t immobilized, the vertebrae can grow in wrong and result in a permanent kink. Your dog’s tail will need to be reset as soon as possible to heal properly. They may also need medication to help ease their pain.

If you think your dog has broken or dislocated their tail, consult with your veterinarian

Nerve Damage Can Affect Bowel Movements

Your dog’s tail holds a lot of nerves. Breaks, especially at the base of the tail, can damage these nerves.

Nerve damage is never ideal. But nerve damage in the tail can be especially distressing. Some nerves and muscles at the base of your dog’s tail connect to their bladder and rectum. You can imagine the consequences of injuring the nerves controlling urination. If your once potty-trained pup has lost control of their bowel movements, an injury could be to blame.

 

When to See a Vet

The treatment for a broken tail depends on the injury, but in all cases a visit to the vet is necessary. Resetting the tail so the bones can regrow in alignment is one way to fix a broken tail. As for more severe injuries, your dog could need surgery or amputation!

It’s important to go see a vet if you have any concerns about your pup’s health.

Has your dog ever hurt his or her tail? Tell us about it!  What did you do?