Limber Tail

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For this month’s article, we wanted to focus on an odd incident that occurred with our office dog – a limp tail, which occurred after a fun weekend of cottage swimming. After a quick visit to the vet, we learned that it was a condition known as Limber tail.

Limber tail, also known as Acute Caudal Myopathy, Coldwater tail, dead tail, broken tail, limp tail, broken wag and rudder tail amongst others comes from the overuse of the tail, causing the muscle groups used for tail wagging to become sprained or strained. As a result, the tail essentially becomes limp from base to tip.

This can occur from physical activity such as swimming, exposure to cold water, excessive exercise, to even external situations such as climate change.

Of these examples, swimming in cold water is the most common cause for limber tail –considering dogs use their tail for balance and steering far more in water than they do on-land, this can cause overstraining.

The most common sign to look for is a limp tail – from base to tip, other signs may be an absence of wagging, lethargy, your dog whining or whimpering, licking and chewing at the tail.

All dogs can get limber tail (although it is more common in some breeds than others). Once limber tail occurs, dogs may find it difficult to rise as their tails are used for balance. They may also find it difficult to sit in a comfortable position. In fact, the pain of limber tail may be so uncomfortable that basic tasks such as eating and even defecating can become quite challenging.

Can Limber tail be cured?

 Limber tail can be treated by a vet who will typically prescribe a simple anti-inflammatory medication, your vet may also recommend ice and heat packs to reduce the swelling and infection as well. Additionally, allowing your pup to relax comfortably is highly recommended for a quick recovery. The good news is that in most cases, dogs will be back to normal within a week!

Let your dog enjoy their usual activities, just because it happened once does not mean it will happen again, just watch for the signs and address them accordingly.