Limber Tail Syndrome
Now that December is nearly upon us and we are expected to have a cold spell in the next few days, I thought it might be a good time to talk about some of the more nuanced impacts the cold weather can have on our canine friends. One less well known impact is the “Limber Tail Syndrome” also sometimes referred to as “Cold Tail” or “Swimmers Tail.” The biological drivers of Cold Tail isn’t thoroughly understood just yet, but it tends to happen when the dog is exposed to cold weather or water followed by a period of inactivity. It is more prominent in sporting and working dogs, but can impact other dogs too.
When impacted, the dog’s tail becomes very flaccid or looks “broken.” The dog will have a hard time moving the tail on their own.
As with all injuries, a vet is the best source to diagnose a problem and to treat it. A cold-looking tail could be symptomatic of something else entirely. The general consensus is that for true Limber Tail Syndrome cases, the best relief is rest and mild orally administrated pain relief. The tail muscles and vertebrae will relax over a few days and the tail will go back to normal.
The point of this post though is prevention: 1) If walking your dog in cold weather (hikers and hunters, I’m talking to you), be sure to give your dog a chance to “cool down” in the home once you get to a warm spot. Don’t let the dog just curl up and take a nap after being out in the cold. 2) If your dog has been exposed to cold water (bath, pools, etc.), be sure to dry them well when they get out. As in #1, try to get the dog to “cool down” once they’re out of the water so that they stretch and re-acclimate to the normal ambient temperature. 3) Lastly, avoid doing any of these types of things later in the evening. If the dog goes to sleep right afterwards, the tail won’t have a chance to get back to normal and it’ll set your pet up for a “cold tail.”
Better still: If you want your dog to get exercise in the cold weather – schedule an appointment with us for daycare! Our indoor facility is temperature controlled to make sure they play safe all year round!