Swimming can provide hours of fun and entertainment, as well as great exercise to both you and your dog. However, excessive swimming can be the culprit when it comes to a condition known as Limber Tail Syndrome. This condition (also called “swimmer’s tail”, “dead tail” or acute caudal myopathy) usually occurs after excessive swimming or swimming in cold water but can also be caused by excessive wagging or heavy exercise.
This condition often affects working dogs and is commonly found in pointers, setters, beagles and retrievers, although it can occur in any dog with a tail. It occurs when the muscles of the tail are injured and the tail hangs limp and does not move. It is similar to straining or spraining a part of your body- although it is just the muscles that are affected and not the bones or ligaments and tendons. You may also notice that your dog is reluctant to sit down or may seem uncomfortable or restless. In some cases if the tail is very painful you may notice lethargy or a decrease in appetite.
If you suspect that your dog has developed this condition you should bring him to see a veterinarian. Swimmer’s tail is painful and should be treated with anti-inflammatory pain medication. The condition can last several days to several weeks and is more likely to recur once your dog has suffered an initial bout. Strict rest is usually advised until the tail is back to normal.
Gradually increasing the amount of time your dog spends in the water and not spending extraordinarily long amounts of time training (unless your dog is accustomed to it) can help to prevent dead tail. If you suspect your dog may have swimmer’s tail or you have any questions about prevention or treatment of this condition please do not hesitate to call River Road Veterinary Clinic!