So, you may have seen our recent video of Bella enjoying a swim in the garden on a hot spring day. Swimming is definitely her favourite pastime and she will excitedly belly flop into any body of water she is allowed to.
Although her preferred place is our local hydrotherapy pool where she has endless fun splashing around and chasing toys.
Bella is such a happy lab, and her hyperactive wag is one of her many endearing traits, as soon as the word ‘puddle’ or ‘splash’ is mentioned, it turns into a propeller that has much more power than the fan on my desk, it is almost cartoonlike!
Recently, I came home from a short trip to the shops, looking forward to the usual super-excited greeting, filled with slobbery kisses, but this time something was wrong. She was very excited to see me, and desperate to get a look in the shopping bags (knowing full-well that there is usually a treat or toy in there!), but her tail wasn’t performing its usual acrobatics, in fact it just hung there motionless.
Worried, I gave her a full check over to make sure she was ok and then I went to investigate the rest of the house to make sure she hadn’t hurt herself on anything inside.
Nope, everything was normal, and she didn’t appear to be in any pain, she had just lost her wag!
As part of my pet insurance package I have access to an out of hours advice line so I gave them a call to see what they advised. It turned out to be Limber Tail.
So, what is Limber Tail? Its official name is Acute Caudal Myopathy and it’s apparently a fairly common condition in working dog breeds such as Labs, Pointers and Beagles but the cause remains unknown. It affects the muscles in the tail and can be quite painful, particularly at the base of the tail, but it basically means that the tail loses movement and will hang lifelessly.
Nick-named ‘Lab-tail’, ‘Broken Tail’, and various other similar terms, it’s cause can be attributed to swimming, which makes sense as Bella uses her tail as a rudder to propel herself around the water as quickly as possible.
Sadly, her swimming fun came to an abrupt end as she was ordered to rest for as long as she needed until her tail returned to normal. This could have been anywhere from a few days to a month, so the next problem was, how on earth will we keep Bella from getting excited and make sure she stays still? This little girl has more energy than she knows what to do with and can’t sit still for long particularly if she gets a whiff of food cooking.
We asked friends and family to stay away for a while so she could rest, and we gave her some painkillers from the vets, and lots of cuddles and fuss. Fortunately, within a couple of days she was completely back to normal and able to wag to her heart’s content.
Limber Tail can occur at any time, but in most dogs, probably won’t happen at all, fortunately it was only temporary and easy to treat, and in Bella’s case didn’t cause her much discomfort. If your dog experiences a similar thing, it’s always best to get them checked out by the vet so they can treat it and rule out any underlying causes.
We kept her out of water for a few weeks just to make sure she has completely healed but she is desperately keen to go for her next water-filled adventure soon.