Dead tail, drop tail, cold tail, limbertail, broken wag — this painful condition has lots of names and not-completely understood causes.
Cooper’s tail dropped after today’s personal best dock-diving practice.
You can see that his tail is hanging straight down and to one side — this is a classic presentation. He doesn’t lift his tail, and it doesn’t wag. He’s walking a little stiffly, too, and doesn’t seem comfortable sitting. And the weirdest thing is this grumbling noise he makes every time he tries to find a comfortable position.
I’ve read that it’s caused by cold water (even baths). But I don’t think that cold water is enough because even some flyball folks have reported it. In Cooper’s case, I think it must be the combination the over-exertion of today’s obsessed dock diving, plus the cold water, plus the fact that he often puts a lot of strain on his tail by using it as a rudder.
Rosemary confirmed my suspicion that this is dead tail — she said her dogs have gotten it in the past. And she cautioned me against one remedy — pulling on the dog’s tail. She said that someone had done that to “cure” her Stella’s dead tail, and that Stella didn’t let anyone near her tail for years afterward.
The best prescriptions appear to be rest, perhaps a baby aspirin, and maybe some chiropractic treatment or massage.
And as to preventing it? There’s lots of suggestions — I don’t know if any of them work, but here’s what I’ve read: giving aspirin ahead of time, giving the dog fish oils (Cooper already gets that daily), getting chiropratic treatment before sports events, making sure the dog is warm and dry after getting wet, keeping the dog in good physical condition, and not letting him over-exert.
Cooper’s in great condition, but didn’t want to rest — he wanted to keep jumping and jumping and jumping. Next time, I’ll just have to dry him off frequently and insist that we (both) rest.