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Swimmer’s Tail In Dogs

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

Does you dog’s tail look “broken”, just hangs down and your dog is unable to lift it?

Well, there is a good chance your dog has a condition called “Swimmer’s Tail”.

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Please Also Note: I’m not a Veterinarian or a professional in animal medicine, therefore this is NOT a professional advice! This is purely based on personal knowledge and experience.

There are other names that describe this condition as well, like Limber Tail, and several other complicated boring words.

But the reason why this condition is called swimmer’s tail, is because most dogs get it after swimming (especially in cold water), or doing strenuous exercise when they are not used to it.

You see, dogs use their tail to steer and balance themself when they swim. So swimming a lot, especially if your dog isn’t used to it, can put a lot of physical stress on his tail.

This condition is most common in sporting breeds, but other dogs can get it to.

Now don’t freak out, this is not a contagious disease.

I think of it like a bad cramp or a very bad sore muscle. (Of course this is just how I compare it, this is not based on a professional opinion)

Here is my personal story for you:

My Beagle had this condition after swimming in the sea.

Even though we live by the beach, he isn’t fan of the water, so he never really swims.

But this time we went to the dog beach and he decided to swim with us. He was swimming quite a bit (more than he is used to).

The water was also a bit colder than usual.

The next day I woke up to him whining and trying to chew on his tail.

Naturally I freaked out 😅😳, and at first I thought his tail was broken.

It was crooked, the base was extended outward, but the other half of it was hanging down, and he was unable to raise it up.

I guess it scared him that he can’t lift it, because as you may know, Beagles usually have their tail pointing up.

I examined his tail closely, and lifted it up and down slowly but he didn’t cry. So I knew it wasn’t broken.

He just wan’t able to lift it up himself, and it probably hurt him when he tried lifting it.

So I let him rest the whole day and occasionally I gently massaged the base of his tail. He was actually passed out pretty much the whole day.

The next day, though his tail was still kinda crooked, he was no longer in pain and was playing like nothing happened.

The day after his tail was completely back to normal.

Now this was my personal experience, this might not be the same with your dog.

Symptoms and Possible Causes

Here are some more information to help you determine if your dog has this condition.

Some of the symptoms of Swimmer’s Tail include:

  1. Broken looking tail

  2. Partially “broken” tail (only half of tail hangs down like in my example)

  3. Unable to wag tail

  4. Pain or discomfort in tail

  5. Lethargy

  6. Excessively chewing or licking tail

Some of the reasons why your dog may develop this condition:

  1. Lots of swimming, especially if he isn’t used to it

  2. Swimming in cold water

  3. Excessive exercise when your dog is not used to it

Your dog may even develop this condition if he is confined in a small cage for a long time.

This is why it is important to choose an appropriate sized crate for your dog. Bigger the better in my opinion.

Usually this condition will resolve in a day or two.

If it doesn’t, or your dog is in a lot of pain, you should take him to the Veterinarian right away.

Even if there is nothing serious wrong with his tail, at least the Vet can give him something to help with the pain.

Now, if your dog didn’t swim or had strenuous exercise lately, but he shows the above symptoms, I recommend you taking him to the Vet right away.

There are other, more serious conditions your dog might have that exhibit the same or similar symptoms.

If you are concerned, or you not sure if he has Swimmer’s Tail or not, it’s always better to consult a Veterinarian.

Hope this helped.

For more pet related tips and informations please visit my other blog posts.

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