Monday, 20 May 2013

Limber Tail

 I love a mystery!  There is a painful condition which can effect working gundogs, particularly Labradors known as Limber Tail syndrome. Actually it has been called quite a few names, cold water tail, wet tail, broken tail, .. and my favourite broken wag.  This is a painful condition whereby the dog's tail may stick out just a few inches from the base, then just hang down lifeless.  Sometimes the hair around the base of the tail may stick up, but many vets are not aware of this painful condition, which affects dogs which have been working or in particular, swimming.  The cause is largely unknown... but I have a theory.
Owners of gundogs and gundog trainers are more familiar with this condition. Reserach has shown that the condition is muscular in nature and scans have shown there is abnormal electrical activity in the area at the base of the tail. The muscles effected are the ones used during lateral flexion (that's wagging to you and me).  Now here is the good bit.
Whilst talking to a gundog trainer this weekend, a credible cause has been suggested.  Now if you are of a sensitive nature it would be a good idea to close your eyes while reading this next bit...
Dogs which walk or wade into water to retrieve don't usually suffer with this condition, but dogs that jump into water, COLD WATER do suffer.  Cold water can enter the dog's rectum via the anus whilst entering the water - as in the photo above.  It is the shock of the cold water inside the rectum at the base of the tail which makes the muscles go into spasm.  In order to test this theory, (now don't try this at home boys and girls) a long time ago this gundog trainer simulated this effect by squirting cold water into said area..... immediately resulting in muscle spasm and Limber tail.   This condition usually lasts a couple of days and can be treated with anti inflammatories by a vet.

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