What is Happy Tail in Dogs?

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    If you have experienced a dog with happy tail at some point in your life, you understand how frustrating it can be. Dogs with happy tail don’t understand that they can easily injure themselves from overexcitement just based on their size and tail structure. But for those who aren’t familiar with it, what is happy tail in dogs?

    What is Happy Tail Syndrome?

    The makeup of a dog’s tail includes bone, muscles, nerves and blood vessels making it quite complex and easy to injure. Happy Tail in dogs begins with the innocent and happy act of an excessively wagging tail. The issue typically occurs over a period of time when the dog’s tail whacks so hard and powerfully that the tip of the tail gets injured. 

    Oftentimes, the tail repeatedly makes contact with hard objects and surfaces such as walls and doorways that leads to an open wound on the tip of the tail. In more severe instances, the injury may be enough to break vertebrae or damage the tendons of the tail.

    pit bull breed in the back of a car with a tail wrapped from happy tail damage and wearing a soft e collar

    Who's at Risk for Happy Tail Syndrome?

    Happy Tail Syndrome most commonly occurs in large short-haired dogs with strong and muscular tails that tend to be more energetic and excited easily. Some of these breeds include Bully breeds, Great Danes, Greyhounds, Labrador Retrievers, and Dobermans. 

    Smaller dogs typically are not affected because their tails do not produce enough force to cause injury. Those breeds with thicker fur and tails also are unlikely to develop Happy Tail because they have more padding to protect the tail muscle. 

    pit bull puppy sitting on grass

    What Damage Can Happy Tail Do?

    In some cases, the tip of the dog’s tail bleeds just a bit. However, many times, the bleeding can be more excessive. 

    In more severe instances, the injury may be enough to even break vertebrae or damage the tendons of the tail. The injury of a happy tail may expose fragile nerves that cause pain. It can become so damaged that it required amputation.

    diagram of happy tail damage in dogs
    Photo Credit: Critical Care DVM

    How Can You Prevent a Happy Tail?

    Since Happy Tail Syndrome typically occurs in overly-excited dogs who excessively wag, prevention majorly comes down to encouraging calming behavior. Reward the dog’s calmer behavior and do not show attention during over-excitement. This can also be done with the aid of behavior supplements.

    In addition, owners may consider purchasing a protective sleeve that fits over the dog’s tail to offer padding. Some solutions that we’ve seen include putting a pool noodle over the tail or making a homemade sling.

    black great dane wearing a tail sling to prevent happy tail
    Photo Credit: Have Dane Will Travel
    irish wolfhound with tail in a diy tail sling to prevent happy tail
    Photo Credit: Irish Wolf Club of America

    What is Treatment for Dogs With Happy Tail Syndrome?

    In most common, and less severe cases, the veterinarian will bandage the area that is affected by the happy tail along and prescribes antibiotics to prevent infection of the open wound. Mild sedatives may be prescribed to decrease the dog’s activity to aid in the healing process. Occasionally, laser therapy treatments are used to speed up the healing.

     In more serious cases where vertebrae or tendon damage occurs, surgical treatment may be required. If a dog repeatedly develops a happy tail, a surgical shortening of the tail may be recommended to prevent the injury from recurring.

    greyhound wearing a red muzzle with an amputated tail from happy tail with a woman hugging him
    Photo Credit: Reddit
    happy tail pinterest pin
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