Treating Dog Tail Injuries

Dog tail injuries are common, and can be quite scary; your dog's tail enjoys a large amount of blood flow, so a bite wound or other laceration to it can cause a lot of prolonged bleeding. Some dog tail injuries, like botched cropping and lacerations, can take a long time to heal, due to your dog's urge to chew and bite at the wound. A broken or dead tail requires veterinary treatment. Never try to set your dog's tail by yourself.

Symptoms of Dog Tail Injuries

If your dog's tail is swollen, drooping or doesn't wag, it's a symptom of tail injury. Sometimes, tail injury can change your dog's gait.

Injuries to the tip of your dog's tail are common. Some dogs chew on the ends of their tails out of nervous agitation, or due to fleas or dry skin.

Your dog could sustain an injury near the middle of his tail if it's stepped on, caught in a door or thumped off a solid object. Bite wounds, insect bites or tugs from enthusiastic children can also cause injuries near the middle of the tail. Injuries near the middle of the tail swell more often than most. Your dog may wag his tail less, or stop wagging it altogether. The tail may begin to droop.

Injuries near the base of the dog tail are the most serious, because the tail is connected to the base of the spine at the hindquarters. Your dog uses the muscles at the base of his tail to help him evacuate his bowels and bladder, so an injury to this part could lead to constipation or incontinence. The tail may be completely limp. He won't be able to wag his tail at all. In fact, he'll have problems lifting the dead tail when he wants to move his bowels. His hindquarters may also swell.

Bite wounds and lacerations on all parts of the tail could lead to infection and inflammation.

Consequences of Tail Injury in Dogs

Tail injuries can put your dog in a lot of pain. Because the tail has a strong blood flow, lacerations and bites can bleed profusely. A broken tail could be crooked, and if not set, may heal that way. A break near the base of the tail could result in permanent incontinence, permanent sagging of the tail, or both.

Treating Dog Tail Injuries

If your dog sustains a bite wound or laceration on the tail, antiseptic ointment can stave off infection. Bandages should be changed every two to three days, and can be treated with bitter apple to discourage chewing. An Elizabethan collar can keep him from biting and chewing it until it heals. If the wound becomes infected, antibiotics may be in order. If your dog's tail injury is due to fleas, ticks or allergies, treat the underlying problem as well.

If your dog's tail is broken, don't try to set it yourself; let the vet do it. A broken tail may need to be splinted until it heals.

If the injury is severe, the tail may need to be amputated. Again, change the bandage every two to three days.