The term ‘limber tail’ is a generic term we use to describe a condition called Acute Caudal Myopathy (Limber tail is so much easier to say). It can also be referred to ‘cold water tail’ or ‘swimmers tail’.
This medical condition can result from overuse of your dog’s tail by such things as hard and prolonged playing (especially in cold weather), swimming in cold water, giving a bath from a cold hose, or just plain wagging their tail enthusiastically for long periods of time. Usually, the symptoms do not occur until several hours later when they will generally have a difficult time lifting up their tail – it usually will hang limply and the wag seems to disappear; this condition can be quite painful and cause a great deal of discomfort.
A physical examination and evaluation are needed to confirm ‘limber tail’ – because other medical conditions can also have the same symptoms.
These can include:
- A back injury
- A fractured tail
- A broken tail
- Anal gland infection or abscesses
If your dog’s normal happy tail appears to be broken this could indicate the onset of Acute Caudal Myopathy. Once this condition is diagnosed the treatment involves rest and relaxation along with dog approved anti-inflammatory medications. (Please do not use human-based anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin – these human based medications are not safe for your dog to ingest).
Your dog should be back to normal after a few days and hopefully, this condition will not happen again – happy tails to everyone!
Written by Marie Hearn