Certain canine extremities tend to get a good deal of attention. For example, most people understand the importance of dog paw care and dog ear care. But what about that wagging rear-most appendage? Lots of people don’t think much about common dog tail problems.
While they happen less often than many other types of health concerns, issue affecting your assistance dog’s tail can certainly pop up. Any source of discomfort or pain needs to be addressed promptly. It’s not just for your dog’s sake; any suffering also interferes with your hearing, guide, or service dog’s ability to concentrate on and perform her important tasks.
So, here’s a quick look at some common dog tail problems to be aware of and on the lookout for.
Skin Infections on the Tail
Your assistance dog’s tail has thin skin that’s vulnerable to cuts, punctures, and other superficial wounds. They can happen any number of ways. If your dog plays with others at the dog park during off times, a nip on the tail may break the skin. Fleas, allergies, or just some regular run-of-the-mill itching can trigger scratching that might create an open cut. Regardless, it doesn’t take much for a bacterial infection to take hold on the tail.
Symptoms of a skin infection typically include redness, swelling, itchiness, crusting, pustules, raised lesions, discharge, or hair loss. If you notice any of these signs, schedule an appointment with your vet. Often, treatment just requires a course of topical antibiotics; sometimes, oral antibiotics are also prescribed.
Yes, your service, hearing or guide dog’s tail can get sprained or strained. Usually, it’s an overuse injury. Dogs who swim are especially vulnerable due to the rudder motion they make with their tail in the water. The muscles, joints, and ligaments in the tail get tired and weak and experience pain. This often leaves the tail hanging limp.
If you notice your assistance dog’s tail just sort of hanging there, and a lack of wagging, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Treatment might mean immobilizing the tail so it can rest and heal. An anti-inflammatory is frequently administered to treat the pain and swelling as well.
Trauma to a dog’s tail can cause an array of injuries, such as bruises, blood vessel damage, nerve damage, fractures, and dislocations. Some dogs wag their tails so often and with such force that they injure them by whacking into hard objects or corners. If the tail gets yanked or twisted, or if something heavy is placed on the tail or falls on it, this too can cause trauma. Tails are also vulnerable to getting stepped on or run over by a vehicle, wheelchair, or scooter.
If you notice your assistance dog isn’t moving her tail or seems to be holding it in a strange position, or if she’s pawing at it or otherwise acting as if it hurts, it’s time for a trip to the vet. Obviously, some traumas are worse than others, and the treatment and recovery time depend on the nature and severity of the injury.