This post is going to be a little bit different than usual. I’m going to share a funny story with you…
A few years ago, we took our foxhound to a river park. Not only was it the first time she went to a river, it was the first time she ever swam. We spent the entire day walking along the river that stretched several miles, as our dog alternated between swimming up the stream, and running along the bank.
All three of us were exhausted by the time we got home, and we went to bed early that night. The next morning we arose in shock as we stared breathlessly at what appeared to be our dog’s broken tail. Typically high and wagging side to side, her tail was now bent and limp, and it seemed like she couldn’t move it at all.
It didn’t make any sense, though. She was fine when we left the river, so when and how could she have broken her tail?
We panicked briefly, and were about to head to the vet, when I paused for a moment, took another look at her, and suggested to my wife, “Maybe she’s just sore. Like a person.” We did some research, and sure enough, that’s what was going on. She had a condition commonly referred to as “limber tail.”
What Is Limber Tail?
“Limber tail” is actually a condition called acute caudal myopathy. The condition also goes by many other names, including: “swimmer’s tail,” “cold tail,” “dead tail,” “broken wag,” and of course, “broken tail.”
What Causes Acute Caudal Myopathy?
Acute caudal myopathy is caused by overusing the muscles in the tail. It’s no different than a weightlifter doing so many squats one day, that they can’t bend their knees the next day. Dogs use their tails for balance. If they have a day of higher-than-normal activity, their tail might get a good workout, leaving them sore the next day.
How to Tell if Your Dog Has Acute Caudal Myopathy
Acute caudal myopathy is easy to diagnose. If your dog has recently had a lot of exercise, and a day or two later their tail looks limp and broken, it’s acute caudal myopathy. We realized our dog had “limber tail,” because it was the very next morning after the first time she ever went swimming, and she literally spent the whole day doing it. It was the most exercise she had ever had in her life up to that point.
How Long Does Acute Caudal Myopathy Last?
It usually goes away within a few days. It’s important to give your dog as much rest as possible during the recovery process.
What If Your Dog’s Tail Doesn’t Heal?
If your dog’s tail doesn’t improve after one week, you should take them to a vet because something else is probably wrong with it. Your dog’s tail might be fractured, or they may have an infection, or even prostate disease. If you think there’s something more going on with your dog’s “limber tail,” don’t hesitate to take them to the vet.
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