‘Help! I think my dog has a broken tail!’
Having just read a very sad tale (pardon the pun) where a concerned owner took her dog to the vets because his tail was just hanging limply and he couldn’t wag it PLUS he looked sad and miserable… i felt I had to write.
Of course its *possible* for a dog to break his tail but its very very uncommon unless physically shut hard in a car door or some such thing. the dog would indicate immediately by much screaming!
So infact this is far far more likely to be something called Cold Tail.
The classic symptoms, are a dog who can only wag it at the base, the rest looking floppy and lifeless. Maybe he can’t wag at all. Maybe he looks unhappy, uncomfortable, and many will be reluctant to sit down as of course, its onto something that is hurting him.
Many will hate you to try and inspect the tail. it seems to genuinely hurt them if you try and pull it out horizontally. Their reaction can range from slight irritation, to proper out of character growling….
The condition has occured as a strain or sprain. they have basically strained the muscles in their upper read thigh and around the base of their tail, basically trapping the nerve and freezing the tail. hence being called cold tail.
Very often they have been swimming possibly that day, but frequently the day before. Often for maybe longer periods than usual. Or in colder water. Or using a repetitive motion like racing in after a ball. However some dogs can just mysteriously develop this on a summer July day having had a plod round the block!! There is no absolute, but swimming is a very regular factor OR excessive damp or cold weatherwise. It absolutely can frequently occur without though, so just roaring around on land, and sadly some dogs are prone to it.
This is NOT something that requires vet attention. However scarey it may look. God forbid I stop someone who wishes to get the dog checked at their vet, BUT I have now heard several stories of vets who do not recognise what is a very minor (and common) problem, and also consider it broken, and insist on expensive xrays, perscribe perscription only painkillers, maybe antibiotics, basically because they are stumped. This IS ridiculous, but its a fact, sadly. So you REALLY don’t need the vets.
The VAST majority of cases are 75% better the next day if the dog stays reasonably warm with just a short walk and no further swimming or charging about. A mild painkiller can help. An asprin or a 500mg paracetamol, or personally we use a single 200mg (NOT 400mg) Ibuprofen tablet, GIVEN WITH A FULL MEAL, although this doesn’t suit every dog so if in doubt, give Paracetamol. However most come right very quickly without anything at all but a bit of rest and mollycoddling. Pain relief can be given twice a day, preferably with full meals.
Three days is about the maximum i’ve ever seen it hang around (no pun intended). OK its miserable for the dog but any amount of antibiotics, large vets bills and so on are not going to do any good so really, save yourself the money, and know, as someone rightly put on a thread recently, its like sleeping in a draught, giving you a bad neck. hugely annoying, a bit distressing even, but you know with a scarf and a bit of rest it will go as soon as it came.