Can Dogs Break Their Tail: Tail Injuries In Dogs

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
There are only a few things in this world that are pure happiness, and tail wagging is one of those things. Sadly, a dog's tail can go through trauma, and some can even break it. Read on to check what a tail injury is.

Nothing can make you feel so special as seeing a dog wagging his tail. No matter how poor the day may be, a single furry buddy wagging his tail is a cure for everything.

Other animals have tails as well, but dogs have a trademark when it comes to tail wagging. It’s just what they do.

They do it for many reasons, and they use their tail for a number of things. However, they use the tail for two main things: balance and communication.

A dog’s tail can help your dog relay information to other dogs, keeps him in a straight line when he uses it as a rudder, and it even allows you to understand when he is afraid, scared, happy, or simply wants something from you.

He might wag his tail because he wants something from you.

Sadly, dogs tend to hurt this important body part due to numerous occasions.

Dogs often suffer injuries to their tail, which can cause severe pain and prevent them from communicating with the rest of the world, including humans and other dogs.

Know Your Dog’s Tail

It’s important to know your dog’s anatomy. Moreover, it’s important to know the anatomy of a dog’s tail and why no one should pull a dog for his tail.

When armed with knowledge on the matter you can actually help your dog take care of his tail in a more efficient manner.

After all, tails are very unfamiliar to humans, since we don’t have them. Dog’s tail is a matter of many mysteries, but one thing is for sure – no matter what some people tell you, dogs do have bones in their tails.

In fact, that tail bone is crucial to your dog’s development, body, and health. The bones in your dog’s tail represent the terminal end of the spinal column.

Dog’s tail has between 5 and 23 separate vertebrae. Dog’s tail is covered with skin and fur coating, making the tail area identical to the rest of the body.

Beneath the skin, you would find many blood vessels, connective tissue, and a series of muscles.

Some of the muscles are located at the base of the dog’s tail are directly involved in controlling their bowels and bladders, so severe tail injuries can lead to incontinence from time to time.

The core of the tail is made from a collection of ligament sand tendon that actually connects muscles to other muscles.

These muscles provide precision control over the tail, enabling it to serve as an amazingly effective communication device.

Can Dogs Break Their Tails?

Simply said, yes. Even cats can break their tails. So, dogs can suffer from a broken tail, and this happens more often than you may realize.

A dog’s tail may become injured for many reasons, and each injury requires a different treatment strategy. You may be surprised to hear what are the most common types of tail injuries.

1. Cuts And Scrapes

Cuts (lacerations) and scrapes (abrasions) can happen for a number of reasons, including fights with other pets, running through weird places, or simply brushing up against something sharp.

Accidents can happen do to a number of reasons, you name it, and dogs can make a disaster from it.

Some dogs can even bite their tails, mostly when fleas occur. Other dogs may break it while wagging in enthusiastically.

Some dogs are so sensitive that they hurt it while wagging their tail across asphalt or cement.

In most cases, these injuries are minor and can be treated with typical aid techniques.

  • Wash the wound
  • Apply a little triple-antibiotic ointment
  • Keep the wound clean and protected until it heals

Of course, it’s always best to talk with your veterinarian as soon as you notice an injury. Taking your dog directly to the veterinarian’s office can’t hurt.

After all, you probably know that any type of major cuts – these cuts include injuries that will not stop bleeding, are deep, or extend – will require immediate veterinary attention.

Such wounds may need stitches, bandages, and a long list of prescribed antibiotics.

2. Skin Infections

Dog’s skin can easily get infected, including his tail. The most common reason for this is linked to fleas, flea allergy dermatitis, and hot spots.

The treatment for this type of injury usually includes cleaning of the afflicted area and the application of appropriate medications.

Prevention is the best approach here, so provide an e-collar for maximum result. This way your dog should stop licking or chewing on the afflicted area.

3. Strains and Sprains

Ligaments, muscles, and tendons in your dog’s tail can become strained or even sprained just like any other muscle. This condition is called by the veterinarians a ‘limber tail.’

This usually can happen following overuse but may occur from some type of trauma, as well. This usually happens after long swimming sessions, or after working long hours in hunting and herding dogs.

These types of injuries can usually resolve after a few days of rest. Even then, it’s important to visit your veterinarian.

4. Breaks and Dislocations

Dogs may also suffer from breaks and dislocations. These issues are considered to be more serious tail problems that dogs may suffer from. They usually happen when a dog’s tail is stepped upon, shut in a door, or pulled. Never pull your dog’s tail!

Educate your children on this matter as well. Children should know that tail pulling can seriously harm a dog’s health.

In the case of a break, one or more vertebrae are fractured. If a dislocation occurs, two or more vertebrae are separated.

Dislocated or broken tails are extremely painful, so the immediate veterinary reaction is mandatory.

Since it’s not usually easy or possible to place a cast on a dog’s tail, treatment options are very limited.

Broken and dislocated tails usually heal with time, serious rest, and protection. Sadly, there will always be a damaged spot!

5. Nerve Damage

Nerve damage doesn’t happen only in people, dogs experience it as well. The nerves connecting to your dog’s tail can become damaged through various traumatic events, such as being hit by a car, or as a product of slipped or damaged vertebral discs.

Some of the nerves are connected to a dog’s rectum and bladder, making these injuries highly uncomfortable.

As such, they can negatively affect your dog’s life. Nerve damage can be treated through the use of steroids, and pain medications that can help keep your dog comfortable.

Symptoms Of A Tail Injury

A variety of signs and symptoms can indicate that your dog is suffering from a tail injury.

Some signs are more obvious than others, but you still need to be observant to give your dog the best chance to heal completely.

Here are the most common symptoms of tail injury:

  • Carrying the tail in an unusual position
  • Waggin tail only to one side
  • Repeated biting of the tail
  • Repeated licking of the tail
  • Guarding the tail
  • Tail that hangs
  • Inability to move the tail
  • Strange vocalization
  • Hair loss
  • Sudden change in the dog’s normal tail-wagging behavior
  • Strange or foul odors coming from the tail

Preventing Tail Injuries

The best medicine in the world is prevention, both for humans and animals.

There are many ways to avoid a tail injury, and even some are super obvious, but we will still mention them – no harm in repeating something that can be beneficial.

Here is how to avoid a dog’s tail injury effectively:

  • Do not step on a dog’s tail
  • Be careful when moving chairs around while the dog moves between your legs
  • Whenever you are in an unsecured area, keep your dog on a leash
  • Don’t let your dog jump from too high places
  • Avoid letting your dog over-exert his tail
  • Use regularly a good preventative flea treatment
  • If your dog spends a lot of time on abrasive surfaces check his tail frequently

One of the hardest problems to avoid is the so-called ‘happy dog’ syndrome. In this syndrome, a dog’s exuberant wagging results in repeated injuries.

To avoid injuries when this syndrome kicks in, remove many tail-height hazards in your home. This won’t eliminate the problem completely but joined with other efforts, you can create a highly safe environment.

The Bottom Line

Now that we know that dogs can indeed break their tails, we should do better in protecting them. The truth is that some dogs are more susceptible to breaks than others, due to their size, breed, or group.

Hunting and working dogs are more prone to tail injuries because they have an enormous amount of energy and can get in into mischief.

You can’t change a dog’s temperament or instincts, but you can make your home a safer place, safe from potential hazards. If an accident occurs, make sure that you contact the veterinarian immediately.

If your regular vet isn’t available, bring your pet to the nearest 24-hour emergency care facility.

A veterinarian visit is the only way to determine just how bad the injury is and what’s the best way to recover the dog’s tail.

In the meantime, do your best to keep a dog safe from potential hazards.