A Happy Tail That Isn’t So Happy

As I write this, I’m being lavished with kisses from a sweet Pittie boy named Kenya. I’m babysitting him while his Dog Mom, my friend Robin, is out of town. Like most Pit Bulls, he is a lovable and voracious kisser, and an exuberant, happy, friendly dog. As a matter of fact, I’ve nicknamed him “Wigglybum” for obvious reasons.

Kenya (aka Wigglybum) giving a sweet smile.

Unfortunately, his tail suffers for all that joy. His tail wags so forcefully when he’s happy and excited that it gets painfully injured around the house. His tail is a strong one, and not covered in a thick, protective fur coat. So as it slams against kitchen cabinets, table legs and even walls, it gets injured.

Robin recently took him to the vet who diagnosed the problem as “Happy Tail Syndrome.” The worst case scenario is a tail amputation, but in most cases, thankfully, that’s not necessary. The tail must be cared for and protected to allow it to heal. I found a great discussion of exactly how to wrap and care for the injured tail at a Greyhound Pets forum. And prevention is always a good idea, too.

Here are some suggestions for help in preventing those happy tails from getting injured:

1. Tone down the excitement. Most dogs tend to get most excited in certain predictable situations: when you arrive, when they are about to head out for a walk, etc. When I arrive at Kenya’s house, I’ve learned to be very quiet and low key. This results in him being more subdued. This is especially important because his front door opens in to a hallway with walls on both sides—ouch! By essentially ignoring him until we get to the living room, which is a wider space with soft cushiony furniture, his tail wags a little less (and is less in danger of getting hurt).

Same thing when we go for a walk. By doing a few laps around the living room before we head out, that initial burst of energy and excitement can dissipate, allowing for a calmer exit and even a calmer mood on our walks!

When you tone down your comings and goings, not only will you be helping to prevent tail injuries, but you’ll also be helping to prevent separation anxiety and teaching your dog calmer manners for when you and your guests arrive. It’s a win-win situation.

2. If you’re in an enclosed area, and your pup is excitedly wagging, you can always use a “Sit” to help him calm down, too. Tails can still wag when dogs are sitting, but it’s less likely they will injure themselves while the tail is only brushing against the floor.

3. Good nutrition can always help. While not all dogs have thick furry tails, by feeding a healthy diet with adequate essential fatty acids (more about salmon oil in my next post), you’ll be doing all you can to encourage healthy skin and coat. And better healing when injuries do occur.

Happy Tails!