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Ask the Vet: Tail Wagging Dangers

Veterinarian Stacey Wallach tells readers why a happy dog can actually wag its tail too much.

Each week, Veterinarian Stacey Wallach, owner of , answers pet owner questions. If you have a question for the vet, e-mail it to Gabrielle.Biondo@Patch.com.

This week she answers a recent question from one of her clients. 

Question:

My dog has a sore on the end of his tail that bleeds and is making a huge mess.  What can we do?

 Answer:

Do you have a really happy dog? If so, that constant wagging, or in some instances whacking, of your dog’s tail can cause pain and serious complications to your dog. Excessive whacking of the tail into things can create sores on the tip of your dog’s tail that can be very painful and difficult to treat. Eventually the sore on the tail can become an open wound. This is when it’s at its worst. Now, the flailing happy tail will leave trails of blood on everything it touches and create what looks like a massacre in your house.  The most common breeds to see “happy tail” are the Greyhound, Pit bull, Great Dane, and the Labrador Retrievers.

Happy tail can be difficult to cure because the dog is always chewing and aggravating it and because they don’t know to stop hitting it on the wall, bed, door, table, etc.    

Try to place your dog in an open area where there are fewer hard surfaces he can whack his tail upon. A soft, light bandage maybe in order to protect the tail and to keep it from bleeding everywhere. Do not put the bandage on tightly as this can cause the tissue to lose its blood supply, die and eventually fall off.  Make sure to see your vet as soon as possible because secondary infections are a real possibility and antibiotics may need to be prescribed. Your veterinarian may also recommend special bandaging techniques and an Elizabethan collar to prevent chewing at the tail and pulling off the tail bandage.  In the worst cases, the wound may be severe enough that a significant portion of the tail will need to be amputated.

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