If your dog has a long beautiful tail, you probably feel so lucky! A dog's tail is a window into their soul, and seeing a happy wagging tail means you are **slaying** the pet parenting game. However, we recently found out the hard way that tail injuries can be difficult to treat, and a common tail injury that long tailed pups must beware of actually has a very misleading name. We're talking about "Happy Tail Syndrome", and families dealing with this type of pet injury are sadly not happy at all!
Happy Tail Syndrome ("HTS") is a condition in which a dog wags its tail so vigorously that it causes injury, usually to the tail itself but sometimes to the surrounding area. The injury can range from minor bruising to more serious injuries such as lacerations or even bone fractures. This condition is more common in certain breeds of dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers and other breeds with thick, heavy tails. The most common causes of happy tail syndrome are excitement and enthusiasm, but it can also be caused by certain medical conditions such as arthritis or neurological disorders.
It is pretty silly to think of a dog getting injured from wagging its tail, but it can happen, and the big issues associated with HTS relate to healing. The skin on a dog's tail is very thin, so if it breaks open it can be challenging to stop the bleeding, difficult to bandage the tail effectively and challenging to prevent the wound from re-opening even once a scab has formed -- especially because dogs are ALWAYS moving their tails. Therefore, visiting the vet promptly is important even if the injury doesn't seem bad. In addition to bandaging and having your dog wear the dreaded-but-necessary cone, the vet may give you sedatives to help your dog rest (which in turn rests their tail).
Wound management is really important, as this injury can rake about a month to heal and vets can suggest partial tail amputation (aaah!!!) if scabbing and healing isn't progressing well during this time. (Now, don't fret if blood from a tail wound gets on your Kingboy dog bed; it will come out in the washing machine, especially if you pre-treat it with a stain remover! But that is not the point of this post).
At Kingboy HQ, one of our dogs (Rocket, a beautiful black senior hound) has a long tail and it has gotten injured twice -- not from wagging but from getting caught in doors unfortunately - OUCH. Many vet visits and weeks of careful tail management later, Rocket still has every inch of his lovely long tail, but we are always on the lookout for possible tail dangers these days! Be well, be safe, and please keep those wagging tails safe and unobstructed!