How do you prevent swimmers tails in dogs? A Comprehensive Guide

‍What are the symptoms of a limber tail?

Check-in with your veterinarian if you think your pup has a limber tail. Conditions like trauma, a fractured or broken tail, anal gland infection and intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) present symptoms similar to a limber tail, so it’s important to rule out any underlying conditions.

You’ll likely be able to tell if your pup has a limber tail because there’ll be a significant difference in how they hold their tail. Often, dogs can’t wag their tails, and it’s generally stiff or limp. Sometimes, the base of the tail is rigid and the rest of the tail is limp, Dr. McCullough adds.Â

Other than a limp tail, dogs may experience swelling at the base of their tail, pain, lethargy and may not let you touch their tail altogether, Dr. McCullough says.Â

When to see your physical vet

  • If you see signs of limber tail syndrome above and if your dog is in pain or discomfort
  • Weakness in the whole body or hind legs
  • Difficulty with urination or defecation
  • Book a video appointment to have a chat with one of our vets.

    What can I do to help my dog and how to prevent limber tail syndrome?

  • Rest
  • Warm packs applied gently to the affected area
  • Pain relief prescribed by your vet
  • Avoid overexercise
  • Plan an appropriate conditioning exercise programme for your dog
  • Avoid your dog being immersed in water of extreme temperatures, or for prolonged periods of time
  • After swimming, dry your dog thoroughly
  • Keep your dog warm and dry, preferably using a warm blanket, if it is cold
  • On long journeys, schedule rest stops to allow you dog to move and stretch their legs
  • The prognosis for limber tail syndrome is excellent. A complete recovery is usually seen in a few days to two weeks. Affected dogs will often have elevated muscle enzymes on a blood test. Keep your dog warm and dry. Ensure that they rest, with short lead-walks for toileting only, until they have fully recovered.

    If your dog is very sore, contact your vet, who will be able to prescribe anti-inflammatory medication. Seek vet advice if your dog has not recovered after two weeks, as other diseases or injuries will need to be excluded.

    Limpy Tail in Lab – See What it Looks Like

    Swimming dogs, especially hunting dogs, sometimes experience acute caudal myopathy, which is more commonly known as cold tail, swimmer’s tail, limber tail, cold water tail, broken tail, retriever tail, Lab tail, broken wag, or dead tail.

    In a study published in the November 1999 Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, this painful condition was linked to fiber damage in muscles at the base of the tail. Severe pain lasting 24 to 48 hours, a limp tail hanging close to the body, normal x-rays, and blood tests showing a mild elevation of the enzyme creatine kinase are signature symptoms. Some owners notice swelling, and hair around the base of the tail may stand up.

    Exposure to cold, wet weather; overexertion or a lack of conditioning; and long periods of crate confinement are blamed for this problem. Most cases appear in sporting dogs during hunting season or during training for hunting. The most-affected dogs are male and female Labrador, Flat-Coated, and Golden Retrievers; English Setters; English Pointers; Beagles; and Foxhounds.

    With rest, the tail usually recovers completely within one to two weeks, though during recovery it may hang to one side. Some veterinarians believe recovery time is shortened if anti-inflammatory drugs are administered as soon as symptoms develop. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to reduce pain, though they don’t usually affect swelling. Warm packs at the base of the tail may help. Affected dogs should not be confined but should be allowed to rest and not worked until their tails return to normal.

    Although most dogs with cold tail experience it only once, many have recurring episodes. To help prevent this problem, gradually condition your dog for hunting or vigorous exercise in order to avoid stress or fatigue; keep your dog’s bedding dry, especially in cold, wet weather; avoid keeping your dog in a cramped crate; and while traveling, give your dog frequent opportunities, at least every one or two hours, to stretch, move, and walk about.