What is Happy Tail Syndrome in Dogs?

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Happy Tail Syndrome is a misleading term. “Happy tail” conjures up images of your tail-wagging canine companion jumping onto you, dishing out wet kisses. However, with the term “syndrome” attached, the picture in the mind’s eye immediately becomes fuzzy. It makes no sense, how can happy and syndrome be used together.

That’s when you learn that Happy Tail Syndrome is a painful condition where dogs cause damage to the tip of their tails from striking surfaces. Typically, this condition occurs when they are wagging their tail, which explains the term used to describe it. The thin skin on a dog’s tail is vulnerable and easily damaged.

Happy Tail is entirely different from Limber tail, which is one of several names used to describe a condition causing a limp tail. Limber tail is formally called Acute Caudal Myopathy. It results in a dog’s tail hanging limp, making it difficult and sometimes painful for dogs to move.

Happy Tail Syndrome is anything but happy for pet parents and their doggy dudes. If it is not treated early, the tip of the dog’s tail could become dry, causing it to crack and start bleeding from repetitively striking it against hard surfaces. But how do you prevent it from happening? You can’t stop your precious pooch from wagging its tail to show happiness.

Treating and preventing a painful tail is a frustrating, but crucial process. In the long term, the injured tail could become infected, and nerve damage can occur. In numerous instances of repetitive harm to the tail from banging it on hard surfaces, leads to tail amputation.

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Which dogs are most likely to suffer Happy Tail Syndrome?

Smaller dogs are typically not at risk to harm their tails in this way. They don’t have the strength to produce enough force when wagging their tails to cause injury. On the other hand, breeds with thick fur coats and tails are also less likely to damage their wagging tails because of the extra padding.

In contrast, large breed dogs with short hair whack their long tails against hard objects with force. Therefore, those are the dogs most likely to suffer Happy Tail Syndrome. Vets report that the breeds they most often treated for this condition include those listed below, but any breed can develop Happy Tail Syndrome.

Pit Bulls

Great Danes

Various Shepherd breeds

Labrador Retrievers

Dobermans

Greyhounds

What are the Causes of Happy Tail Syndrome in Dogs?

The following are the most prevalent causes of Happy Tail Syndrome:

  • Dogs having to stay in a cramped space like at a boarding facility or another tight space where they can easily bang their tail.
  • Excessive tail wagging, whacking them against hard surfaces around the home.
  • Damage to the tail from fences, doorways, furniture, and walls.

What are the Symptoms of Happy Tail Syndrome in Dogs?

Many dog parents do not know of the injury on their dog’s tail until they notice the blood splatters in specific areas of their homes. And even then, they only put two and two together when they see their doggy dudes’ dry and cracked tail tips and evidence of hair loss.

Sometimes dog owners notice the injured tail before bleeding occurs. There are no other symptoms to alert their owners because dogs still have the same appetite, they drink water as before. They also don’t pee or poop more or less than usual.

What is the best treatment for this Syndrome?

If you spot the problem early, you may be able to treat it at home. If there is no bleeding yet, you could use an ointment or balm to moisturize the damaged area before it cracks and bleeds. Bandaging the tail is complicated because there is so little tissue in the area near the end of the tail. If the bandage is too tight it could cut off blood circulation, and if it is too loose, it will not stay in place.

It is best to leave bandaging to the DVM’s staff. Unfortunately, wagging tails are involuntary movements, and dogs cannot stop their tails from showing their emotions. It is a natural part of their body language. The most significant problem is repetitive instances of Happy Tail Syndrome.

Your veterinarian may need to prescribe antibiotic ointment and also sedatives to calm your precious pooch down for the duration of the healing process. However, it could be weeks or even months before the tail heals sufficiently to allow the removal of the bandages and sutures. It can’t be good for your canine companion to be on sedatives for long periods.

When dogs suffer second or third cases of Happy Tail the DVM might suggest tail amputation or removing a part of the tail. Surgical amputation or a shortened tail will not adversely affect your dog’s quality of life. Instead, it might have a positive impact without long periods of tail injury treatment.

It is Best to Avoid Homemade Tail Protectors

Hopefully, we have answered your questions about Happy Tail Syndrome and the best way to treat the condition and get your furry friend back to wellness. Some pet owners fashion pool noodles around their dogs’ injured tails. However, dogs will try their best to get rid of it by chewing on the noodle, posing additional risks of intestinal blockages. That is where it becomes too much because to prevent your dog from biting pieces off the pool noodle, you have to fix an Elizabethan Collar around your poor pooch’s neck as well.

Vets recommend the K9 TAILSAVER® for dogs with Happy Tail Syndrome, Broken Tail, Exposed Bone, Infection, Cyst, Tail-Biting, or Hairless Sores. Tails are Protected by the Padded Tail-Sleeve and the Supporting Harness. It Stays on Active Dogs and Chewers of Bandages, Wraps, Noodles, and Covers. It’s Secure and Prevents Re-Injury.

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Mari Serfontein