Swimmers Tail

It’s summer time, and summer time means hot weather and more water activities. Your dog may love the water as much as you do but you have to monitor the amount of time they spend in the water. Have you ever heard of swimmer’s tail, also known as limber tail or broken tail? Dog’s can get swimmer’s tail if they spend too much time swimming in the water. Although swimmer’s tail most commonly happens while swimming (hence the name) it can also happen with certain physical activities and playing.

Think of swimmer’s tail as a sprained or strained muscle. If your dog is using the muscles in his tail too much then it will eventually reach a level of exhaustion and become sore and tired. Dog’s tails can in fact break, as they are made up of a bunch of tiny bones, but swimmer’s tail does not involve any bone breaks and is purely muscle strain. The technical name for swimmer’s tail is acute caudal myopathy. Acute means short, caudal means tail, and myopathy means disease of muscle tissue.

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How will you know if your dog has swimmer’s tail? Your dog will show symptoms of tail soreness. These symptoms may include the dog’s inability to hold up his tail, the inability to wag his tail, tail tenderness, and whimpering due to the soreness. Some dog breeds are more likely to experience swimmer’s tail than other breeds. Working and sporting dogs experience this disorder more commonly than other breeds because they tend to spend more time in the water. Retrievers, Pointers, and Setters are among the most common dog breeds to experience swimmer’s tail. But this doesn’t exclude other breeds. In fact, we know a Bull Terrier who developed swimmer’s tail just from swimming around in a pool for too long one day.

If you plan on enjoying the water with your dog this summer, log the hours your dog spends swimming. Take note and be smart! You’ll know when your dog has reached his limit, especially if he has a hard time keeping his head above water.

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