Injured Ass-ets & Tail Wag Trauma

Labrador

That tail is one of the most expressive parts of the dog–or cat–body. It’s not unusual for a friendly flail to clear tabletops. But what can you do when the wagging wacks walls, and there’s trauma to twining tail tips? (say THAT fast five times!)

Big dogs like Labradors are so happy—and so large—that happy wagging bangs the tail tip bloody. Pet tails can also be shut in doors, stepped on, or otherwise hurt. Once injured, tails are very prone to re-injury and can stay sore and battered.

The condition isn’t a medical emergency but is painful for the dog or cat. It can also be messy when the injured tail splatters blood around the room. With chronic tail wag trauma, medical attention is needed to speed the healing, but home care also works well.

HOME FIRST AID FOR INJURED PET ASS-ETS

Benadryl has a sedative effect and is very safe. You can give one milligram for every pound the pet weighs to temporarily slow the wagging.

Hair not only hides the wound, it also collects bacteria and holds blood like a paintbrush. When the tail is very furry, carefully clip away the hair with blunt scissors. Electric clippers are a safer choice for fur removal.

Usually infection isn’t a problem, but it’s still best to quickly clean up the tail. The simplest and most effective technique is to dip the tail in a pan of cold water for several minutes. That rinses off the wound, helps stop the bleeding and reduces inflammation. Then gently pat the tail dry with a clean cloth.

If the dog or cat won’t allow tail dipping, apply an ice cube to the area to numb the pain and reduce swelling. The damage prompts the body to release chemicals called histamines that cause swelling and inflammation. Inflammation can break down the cells and cause permanent damage. Ice stops the process. Once the injury is clean and dry, apply a thin film of antibacterial ointment like Neosporin to help prevent infection.

BANDAGE TAILS

Bandage the tail to contain the bleeding (and protect your furniture), and pad the injury to keep your pet from re-injuring the sore spot.

Cat’s tails are particularly difficult to bandage, but for dogs, pull a clean cotton tube sock over the end of the tail. It should be long enough to cover two-thirds of the length of the tail itself. Then wrap tape over the sock, beginning at the tip of the tail and working toward the body, in a diagonal crisscross pattern. Be sure to run the tape two inches beyond the cuff of the sock and directly onto the fur. Finally, run the tape back down from the body to the tail tip, again in a diagonal pattern, which makes it difficult for the dog to pull off. This bandage technique (and others) are illustrated and described in pet first aid books.

first-aid

Change bandages at least every three days, or oftener if it gets wet or dirty. Apply Neosporin to the area with each bandage change. If the veterinarian recommends you leave the tail uncovered, apply the ointment two to four times a day since dogs and cats tend to lick it off. Some pets may need a prescription tranquilizer to calm tail movement until it can heal.

A collar restraint also can keep him from chewing, licking or pulling at the bandage or tail injury. Or smear Vicks Vapor Rub on the bandage—the menthol odor repels most pets and keeps tongue and teeth at bay.

Some injuries require that the damaged tail tip amputated. If that happens, fur tends to grow over the end and hides the loss. Your pet will never miss the, er, missing link.

Make some changes in the pet’s environment to avoid a repeat of the tail trauma. Bigger dogs need larger areas where they can swing their tails without banging walls, or clearing off the coffee table.

Has your dog (or cat) ever suffered a tail injury? How did it happen? What treatment was required? Do tell!


 

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Comments

Injured Ass-ets & Tail Wag Trauma — 8 Comments

  1. Fortunately, none of my dogs ever sustained a tail injury, but, a few of my clients’ have. I remember a Golden Retriever who banged up his tail so often, it lost function and just hung there, limply. You had to lift it up when he needed to poop, otherwise it got messy. Another client accidentally slammed the door on her Lab’s tail and broke it. Ouch! 🙁
    Thanks for the good advice about this subject.

  2. I think I’m commenting on the right one. 🙂 Anyway, I remember when I was volunteering almost daily at the shelter (at least my unemployment a few years ago did something good, eh?) we had a few dogs in that had to be docked because they wouldn’t stop breaking their tails. One of them had a sign up for a little bit beforehand, saying “don’t be scared if you see blood in my kennel – I am just so very happy to see you, sometimes I wage my tail too hard!” Up until then, I had never actually considered that as a reason for tail docking.

    • Yay! Yes, you’re on the ‘new’ blog. *s* It’s interesting that the dog fancy uses “tail injury” as a justification for docking many of the dog breed tails…yet labradors are one of the most common tail injuries and is NOT a docked breed. Ah, but that opens up a whole other discussion. Not…going…there, at least not tonight. 🙂

      • I wonder if perhaps they mean “tail injury in the line of work the dog was originally bred for”… in which case it only makes sense to do it if you’ve got a working dog. Sometimes I think they arbitrarily hold to those standards without really thinking about or explaining the history of why they were done. :\

        • That’s exactly how it’s meant. But most of these dogs aren’t doing their historical work these days now anyway. It’s a matter of taste more than safety or function anymore. In Europe, quite a lot of the cropping/docking is now illegal. *shrug*

  3. When I was a child, my Dad brought home a toy fox terrior, a terror to my mother. She refused to have anything to do with it and would have let it starve if we didn’t feed and water it. We learned fast we had a responsibility to this dog. Once when she was exiting the door, it slammed on her tail, breaking it so it had a kink in it. We tried bracing it, but to no avail. It seemed happy enough, so we just let it alone. We love out Mitzy, but Mother banned it to outside. She would plant a bulb, only to find it dug up. She gave up a garden in the back and made a beautiful rose and dalia garden in the front yard. We had an outdoor cat, a good mouser, Mitzy would drag the poor cat around the yard by the nap of its neck. We’d rescue the cat and she went back for more. go figure.

    • Hi Eyrline, I’m so glad that you had the chance to have a special relationship with Mitzy despite your Mom’s opinion. *s* Those terriers can be a handful–bet the kinked tail gave Mitzy even more character. 🙂

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