By Linda Cole
My dogs wag their tails a mile a minute every time I talk to them. Even a playful stare from me can get their backside wiggling in happiness. Thankfully, my dogs have never lost their ability to show me their contentment by wagging their tail, but some dogs can develop a syndrome called Limber Tail. This is a condition that can affect any dog whose tail hasn’t been docked, but it’s mainly seen in hunting dogs like pointers, retrievers, foxhounds and beagles.
Limber Tail syndrome is also known as broken wag, cold tail, dead tail, limp tail or rudder tail. It’s when a dog’s tail hangs limp, like it’s broken, and it can be painful. No one really knows for certain how a dog actually develops this condition, but they do know it’s brought on by overexertion, swimming in water that may be too cold or too warm, cold and wet weather conditions, an out-of-shape dog, or being confined for long periods of time in a crate when traveling. Even something as simple as a cold bath can affect a dog that’s more sensitive to temperatures than other canines.
It’s also possible the condition could be due to a poor diet. That’s another reason why providing a premium quality dog food like CANIDAE can help your dog maintain his good health. Poor circulation may also be a culprit for a droopy tail.
When a dog is swimming in water, he works his tail like a rudder. If he has been sitting around during the off season for hunting or has been relatively inactive during the winter months, and isn’t in shape when he hits the water for a swim or to retrieve something from the water, he can injure his tail and develop Limber Tail because his muscles weren’t properly conditioned before the workout. When the tail is overworked, the muscles at the base of a dog’s tail swell, causing connective tissue to tighten and cutting off blood flow to the tail.
For the most part, Limber Tail syndrome isn’t a big deal, and it will correct itself in two to seven days. The condition can be mild where the tail is held just below a horizontal level, severe with no wag and hanging limp, or something in between. The tail can be permanently affected, but it’s not usually a problem. Sometimes, the dog will hold the tail out just a few inches before letting it sag down. You may see raised hairs at the base of the tail, which is due to swelling, and the swelling can make sitting or lying down more difficult for some dogs, depending on their tolerance for pain.