If you’ve read my post about whether or not Whippets can swim, you’ll have come across the condition known as “swimmer’s tail”. I only touched very lightly on this condition so in this article I’m going to talk in more detail about swimmer’s tail in dogs.
I’ll be discussing the following topics:
Table of Contents
- What Is Swimmer’s Tail in Dogs?
- How to Identify Swimmer’s Tail
- How to Treat It
- What Can You Do to Avoid It?
What is Swimmer’s Tail in Dogs?
Swimmer’s tail is a condition dogs can suffer whereby the tail becomes limp, stiff and apparently painful.
The “swimmer’s tail” term is actually one of a number of names this condition has. Medically it’s known as Acute Caudal Myopathy, but it’s also called:
- Limber tail syndrome
- Cold water tail
- Limp tail
- Dad tail
- Cold water tail
More often than not, swimmer’s tail usually occurs as a consequence of excessive time playing or swimming in water or generally overusing the tail through prolonged periods of excitement. The excessive use of the tail strains the muscles causing pain and an inability to control tail function.
As a general rule, swimmer’s tail can affect all dogs (including Whippets) though it more frequently tends to affect larger breeds as well as working and hunting dogs.
How to Identify Swimmer’s Tail in Dogs
Early on, you might notice that your dog is not wagging it’s tail as it normally does. Perhaps it can only wag it’s tail in a weak way or that it seems to be uncomfortable when doing so.
As the condition progresses, your dog’s tail may go completely limp and doesn’t eat at all. Your dog might exhibit signs of discomfort of sitting or lying down and may lick at it’s tail.
Dogs can struggle to stand up with the condition, since they use their tails to help with balance. Additionally they may go off food and find going o the toilet an unpleasantly painful experience.
If you can relate the onset of the symptoms with a period of heightened tail wagging or swimming in cold water, then it’s likely your dog may have swimmer’s tail.
Of course any sudden changes in how your dog used its tail or if it seems to be in pain, the best course of action is to take see a veterinary professional as soon as you can.
Although swimmer’s tail is relatively common in dogs, the same symptoms can relate to a number of other conditions such as:
- Infection of the anal glands
- Prostate problems
- Broken tail bone
A veterinary professional will properly assess your dog’s tail to identify the source of the discomfort and determine the correct course of treatment.
How to Treat Swimmer’s Tail in Dogs
Swimmer’s tail is actually very easy to treat and the effects tend not to last very long: often a no longer than a week at most.
Once your vet has identified your dog is suffering from swimmer’s tail, they will likely prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine and rest to allow the tail to recover.
When normal tail function returns there’s no reason to be over concerned that it will return regularly or even at all: swimmer’s tail in dogs is not a chronic condition but something triggered by prolonged tail wagging or exposure to cold and wet environments, (like swimming in cold water).
What Can You Do to Avoid Swimmer’s Tail in Dogs?
Other than avoiding swimming in cold water or remaining outside when it’s cold and wet for long periods of time, you shouldn’t necessarily worry about preventing your dog from wagging its tail when it’s happy.
After all, tail wagging is one of your dog’s most visible signs of happiness!
For the most part, swimmer’s tail in dogs is not something that occurs frequently… indeed my Whippet Misty has never suffered from swimmer’s tail… though to be fair she doesn’t like water that much!
Swimmer’s tail is a condition that affects many dogs. It’s not a life threatening condition and shouldn’t cause any long term problems… though it’s clearly painful while it lasts.
Although it’s not serious and will heal within a week or so with proper care and treatment, the symptoms of swimmer’s tail are similar to several other more serious conditions. As a consequence, changes in how your dog’s tail behaves, especially if it goes limp without explanation, should be checked by a veterinary professional.
Do you have experience of swimmer’s tail in dogs? Perhaps your dog had its tail go limp suddenly? Please let me know about it in the comments section below.
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