Can a dog break its tail?

Can a dog break its tail? My dog's tail looks like she cannot move it very much and it just hangs down. Normally she wags...


What’s Wrong With My Dog’s Tail?

Can a dog break its tail? My dog’s tail looks like she cannot move it
very much and it just hangs down. Normally she wags a lot. Will this
get better with rest?

Madison, WI

It is possible for dogs and cats to break their tails. This may happen if someone steps on, slams a door on, or runs over the tail with a bicycle or car. Broken tails generally are severely painful. Animals with broken tails don’t use them normally, so this could be the cause of your dog’s problems. However, it is not the most likely cause.

A number of other conditions can lead to the symptoms you describe. Soft tissue trauma (sprains, strains, bruises, and other minor problems) occurs frequently as a result of over-exertion or low-grade trauma. These sorts of injuries are much more common than broken tails. Soft tissue trauma typically resolves after a few days, so there’s a very good chance that your dog’s tail will improve without a visit to the vet.

I recommend that you gently inspect and manipulate your dog’s tail from the base to the tip. If you don’t notice any pain or abnormalities, it is reasonable to wait a few days for the problem to improve on its own. If you find an especially painful, swollen, or irregular area, you should take your dog to the vet.

Also, be aware that in rare instances, back or spine problems such as slipped discs can cause abnormal tail use. Animals with back problems may have other symptoms, such as limping, dragging feet, or difficulty urinating or defecating. Any animal with a suspected spine or back problem should receive immediate veterinary attention.

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