Limber and Happy Tail Syndrome In Dogs

You know how your dog’s tail wags uncontrollably when you come home from work or you ask them if they would like to go to the P-A-R-K. While this expression of joy and happiness is a sign that your pet is happy, it can also lead to a difficult and painful condition called “Happy Tail”. “Limber Tail” is a term used to describe a different condition in dogs. Limber Tail occurs after vigorous or strenuous exercise, often associated with swimming. In the following article, I will discuss Happy Tail and Limber tail, along with how it is treated and prevented.

Sometimes when a dog repeatedly wags their tail against a hard substance like a wall or a crate, a wound can form on the very end of the tail. The condition occurs from repetitive trauma to the tip of the tail. Sometimes this can occur after staying in a Kennel or boarding facility if a dog is constantly wagging their tail against the wall or kennel door. The wound that forms can be very deep, painful, and even bleeding. Sometimes people will note blood splattered on their walls, carpets, or bedding when they come home from work. The bleeding can be severe enough that it can even look like a crime scene!

Happy Tail is usually treated with bandaging to prevent repeated trauma to the tail and allow the tail time to heal. In addition, antibiotics are used to treat the secondary infection and veterinary approved anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling and pain. Preventing happy tail centers on creating a safe environment for your dog to wag their tail without hitting it against objects or walls. In some cases a pool noodle can be used to prevent the tail from hitting the wall, however, this can only be used in dogs who will not chew up the pool noodle!

Limber Tail is a different condition which affects a dog’s tails. It occurs after strenuous exercise or swimming. The pet’s owner may note that their dog’s tail won’t wag or move and just hangs down like it is lifeless. The dog’s tail may be painful when touching it. The condition is thought to occur secondary to a muscle strain or pull which is why it is associated with swimming or exercise. Treatment centers of rest and veterinary approved anti-inflammatory medications to help treat any swelling or pain. Most dogs will completely recover from limber tail although it may recur in the future when swimming or heavy exercising.

Veterinarian For Dog Limber and Happy Tail Syndrome

Other conditions can affect the tail include fractures, infections, and other forms of trauma. If you think your dog has a problem with their tail I recommend consulting with your Veterinarian or calling one of our offices to speak with a member of our Veterinary Hospital to schedule an appointment. With a lot of love and a little help from your vet, we’ll help you keep your dog’s tail wagging for years to come.

Jeffrey Stupine VMD

Medical Director

World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals