A dog's tail contains between six and 23 vertebrae, depending on the breed of dog it belongs to. The tail provides communication for a dog's emotional state, the most obvious signal being a happy, enthusiastic wag. The location of the tail appendage makes it vulnerable to injury, prone to infection and slow to heal. Caring for a dog with a tail injury requires time, patience and dedication, as a dog can't always simply let the tail rest and heal properly. You may need to work closely with your veterinarian to encourage proper healing and seek further medical attention if the pooch's tail condition worsens.
Visit your veterinarian. Unless the injury to your dog's tail is obvious, such as a reaction to fleas or another simple wound, see your veterinarian to rule out possible serious medical conditions and to seek advice. The veterinarian will examine your dog's tail and recommend care procedures for proper healing.
Use a cone collar. Dogs tend to bite, lick and chew at wounds, preventing healing and possibly causing a worse injury. Fit your dog with a cone collar, sometimes called an E-collar or Elizabethan collar, to prevent him from bothering his injured tail. This will allow any medication or bandage to remain in place and promote successful healing.
Keep the wound clean. Dogs develop sores and wounds on their tails from a variety of sources, including being stepped on, or bitten by another animal. Keep the wound clean by washing it as necessary with soap and water, and covering it with an antibacterial ointment. Use a cotton pad and gauze to create a bandage to keep it clean and free from infection. Check the bandage regularly and change it as necessary.
Listen to your veterinarian. In some cases, surgery or other medical intervention may be necessary to correct a problem with a dog's tail, such as if the tail is broken or badly injured. Follow your veterinarian's instructions on helping your dog during his recovery period, and give the dog any antibiotics or pain medication as prescribed to help him stay comfortable and heal. Examine the tail's wound or incision for signs of infection, and contact your veterinarian if the injury looks red and swollen.
Make the dog comfortable. A tail injury can leave your dog less energetic than usual, so make him comfortable as he heals. Offer him a soft spot to lie down on, such as a dog bed or folded blanket, and spend time with him. Create a quiet place for him to rest by placing his bed in the corner of a quiet bedroom or at the foot of a seldom-used closet. Use a large kennel to offer a quiet safe zone for the dog to rest and feel secure in.
Always consult a veterinarian if your dog's tail appears broken or is bleeding heavily.
Never attempt to diagnose or treat your dog yourself, as doing so may prolong proper treatment or leave the injury open to infection.
Seek professional medical advice before administering any home care treatment beyond simple wound cleaning.
Depending on your dog's injury, you may need to double up on a number of care tactics, such as using an Elizabethan collar after surgery.
Take his cone collar off periodically to allow him a chance to move freely, but keep a close eye on him to prevent him from aggravating his injury.
Depending on where his tail injury is, you may need to wash him after he has gone to the bathroom to prevent possible contamination and infection.
Items You Will Need
- First aid supplies
- Elizabethan collar
- Pain medication
- Flea and tick prevention medication (optional)
- puppy tail image by Eric Dodd from Fotolia.com