Saturday, July 27, 2013

Docked Tail Pain is Real - Signs Your Dog is Suffering from It

Pixel is the only dog I've ever had with a docked tail. Before I had her, it never occurred to me the serious ramifications that tail docking posed to dogs. I never liked it, but it never dawned on me that tail docking is actually an amputation and very painful. I just didn't know. It is an unnecessary removal of an important body part...part of the spine. Docking removes vertebrae (and not always cleanly), muscle, tendons, and nerves. The tail is removed in a number of ways, including cutting it, banding it  until it falls off, and even vets will use things like dog grooming razors to dock a new puppy's tail. I know this because I've seen it. There is no anesthesia and no 'surgical precision', so it is no wonder that there are so many dogs running around with docked tail issues. It has taken me years of studying Pixel, doing research and talking to hundreds of dog owners who have docked tail dogs with pain and discomfort at varying levels, to compile this list of signs to look for in a dog with a docked tail.

A BRIEF LOOK AT PIXEL'S DOCKED TAIL:
Before Pixel's current vet, Dr. Mask, I actually had one vet tell me that it was probably all in Pixel's head. They did not even want to bother to look for physical issues in her tail. Six months later, it was found that Pixel had a shard of vertebrae at the tip of her tail nub, several scar tissue adhesions and definite nerve damage from the docking. Don't believe anymore that tail docking does not hurt or do any long term damage...the truth about tail docking is that it very much DOES hurt, and often for the life of the dog.


Remember that every emotion that a dog feels, whether it's joy, excitement, uncertainty, fear, all goes through the tail. You can tell a lot about a dog and how they are feeling by their tail, so when that tail is missing, or halfway cut off, those nerves still want to do what is normal for them, and that is why their tails can give them such a fit at times.

SIGNS OF DOCKED TAIL PAIN AND DISCOMFORT:
There are many symptoms and behaviors that a dog can exhibit when they are having docked tail pain. Some might seem unrelated, but they are. Here are just a few signs that a puppy or adult dog is having pain, irritation or difficulties with a docked tail:
1. Biting, licking, 'chasing' or whining at the tail or back end. Scooting or rubbing their bottoms or tails on the floor or against a piece of furniture.
2. Hiding under a bed or in a crate. Isolation from the family or laying alone in a back room.
3. Delayed or difficulty potty training, either on paper or outside. Often difficulty having a normal bowl movement (BM), including running away from a BM as it is occurring. Pixel is 5.5 years old and she still sometimes runs away from her BM's while they are happening.
4. Unexplained potty accidents, even if they are potty trained. If you are paper training and you occasionally have rogue locations where pee or poo will occur. Sometimes they have trouble holding it due to the cut tail muscles. They rely on the entire tail for this body function so it can be hindered with a docked tail.
5. Redness, inflammation or scaling at the tail nub tip. Before Pixel's surgery to try and correct her tail pain, would get seriously red and inflamed at times. Now it gets red after she has 'gone after it' due to pain & discomfort.
6. Sudden and unexplained moments where the dog leaps, jumps, or catapults themselves off of a bed/couch/chair and either runs away or goes after the tail. Leaping up suddenly then leaping down again off the furniture is often a sign they are getting sudden stabs of pain or stinging at the tail nub and are trying to 'get away' from the source of discomfort.
7. Sulking, having head down, and acting like they are in trouble or are being punished for no apparent reason. Dogs often associate the stabbing, stinging pain as something that is being "done to them" so they might very well feel they are being punished when they feel it. It's very psychologically traumatizing for them.
8. If someone goes to pet or touch the dog near their back end or tail, is there occasional crying out, yelping, or even nipping at that person (or another pet  if that pet gets too close to the tail). This can occur when someone is trying to either pick the dog up or move the dog for whatever reason.
9. Refusing to come when called, even though the dog knows and usually obeys that command. When you try to call them, they might sit in a bed, on a rug, in the corner, etc, just looking at you while you are calling them, trying to get them to come to you. This can be an infrequent occurrence where other times the dog obeys with no problems or hesitation (again, this refers back to them either thinking they are in trouble when they are hurting or that you are the cause).
10. Playtime, happy reunions, and/or meal time excitement getting interrupted by a sudden tail biting episode. Getting excited over a loved one coming home or a fun play time, can often cause a sudden bout of pain or stinging that results in yelping and 'going after' their tail. Excitement runs through the nerves in all dogs tails (or tail nubs) as they wag with joy, so docked tail dogs get 'punished' (in their eyes) for being excited.

This is one of the hardest things for my heart to deal with...my little one, your little one, being in pain or discomfort just because they are happy. Whenever Pixel gets excited to see me, especially when I come home from being gone, and sometimes during meal time or play, her tail will give her a fit and she will even scream like I have hurt or hit her, then she either runs away or desperately tries to get out of my arms. I used to think something else was going on. The fact is, during these excited times, when she should just be able to enjoy my homecoming, she is being stung by the nerves in her tail. Pixel can't even show how happy she is to see her Mom without her tail stinging and hurting.

The above list is just a few of the signs and behaviors of a docked tail dog. Docked tail pain is a very real and very serious issue that should be addressed as soon as possible for any dog who exhibits signs and/or behaviors that their tail nub is bothering them. Quite often, things are overlooked, missed, or misdiagnosed, and the dog suffers silently and without understanding. Make sure your vet validates the issues your dog is having and that they really analyze the tail nub to see what is wrong.


Don't despair though, because there is hope. You can still have a happy dog, you just need to help them deal with docked tail pain. In my next post, I will share ways to help dogs with docked tail issues.
Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest updates.

20 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this valued information..I had no idea and it explains a lot about my little Charlie..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Denise!
      You are very welcome. I would love to know how your Charlie is doing this summer. I have a blog post coming VERY soon that highlights ways to help docked tail dogs get through those acutely troubling painful times.
      If you're on Facebook, please come by and post a photo or two at www.facebook.com/NoTailLeftBehind
      Jenny & Pixel

      Delete
  2. My dog has been having some of the symptoms you describe. He cries like he's being stabbed or something! He's 7 yrs old and never had this before. It began on Monday. Today is Thursday. I took him to the vet yesterday and she couldn't find anything... she expressed his anal glands; they weren't full or impacted or anything. She gave me some pain meds ( )which I gave him yesterday. He won't go up the stairs except for on the leash with me... he acts like he's afraid it will hurt. He eats, pees, poops no problem. He's not playing anymoe. He lays around like he's waiting for the pain to stab him again. I look and look with a flashlight and don't see an injury or anything stuck to him anywhere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe his eyesight is failing???

      Delete
    2. Maybe his eyesight is failing???

      Delete
  3. Now I need to find out how do you treat the docked tail pain... The meds she gave me for him is Vetprofen 75mg @ a half of a caplet once a day for pain. She said if he doesn't improve next she'd do xrays...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just read this about tails. My lhasaspo started biting his tail 9 week ago till it bled and the vet had to remove so much of it as hus tail was dead at the end he has still been going mad to get his tail he has had a lamp shade collar on since he has had antibiotics as had a infection it is all healed now but he still goes mad o took his collar of tonght and he has attacked it again and has bit me and made his tail bleed the vet do said last week that it his all in his head but I am now worried after reading this what can I do thanks

    ReplyDelete
  5. As a matter of first importance,consider why you need it done.On the off chance that your dog is not a working or hunting dog,is it important or is it your vanity?Generally the senseless line of thinking made is,it's my dog,my property and I will do what I need with it.It should,my dog,it's my property,I couldn't care less what others think or do.I would never do anything to hurt,mangle or damage my pet.He or she adores me genuinely, and I would never risk their trust and respect.My dog is perfect,only the way they are.
    ❤️❤❤️❤
    www.waggybaggy.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. My 1year old Rottweiler,Lexy,has been acting weird with her docked tail nub..spinning in a slow circle while rubbing her nub on anything she can to take that pain away...the carpet,grass,walkways..it is strange to see her doing it. I didn't know what was the problem until I googled it..came to this site..and it has answered alot of questions for me. I put a small amount of antibiotic ointment underneath Her nub,where it is raw from the rubbing..and it seems to have helped,because She finally laid down&fell asleep ..She has left it alone. .but As soon as She wakes up She right back into the spinning&rubbing her tail on the carpet to alleviate her uncomfortableness. Lexy don't do it all the time,but at this point She will need to see the vet. I feel bad for Her...but hopefully,she'll be helped soon enough..

    ReplyDelete
  7. My 1year old Rottweiler,Lexy,has been acting weird with her docked tail nub..spinning in a slow circle while rubbing her nub on anything she can to take that pain away...the carpet,grass,walkways..it is strange to see her doing it. I didn't know what was the problem until I googled it..came to this site..and it has answered alot of questions for me. I put a small amount of antibiotic ointment underneath Her nub,where it is raw from the rubbing..and it seems to have helped,because She finally laid down&fell asleep ..She has left it alone. .but As soon as She wakes up She right back into the spinning&rubbing her tail on the carpet to alleviate her uncomfortableness. Lexy don't do it all the time,but at this point She will need to see the vet. I feel bad for Her...but hopefully,she'll be helped soon enough..

    ReplyDelete
  8. The benefits of having a trained dog are endless. A few months ago I started to train mine with some videos I found online. They teach you step by step! Aggression, anxiety, biting, barking and disasters in the house have disappeared. My dog behaves excellent. And I have taught many tricks! Here is the address: theonlinedogtrainers. com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your post is very helpful, thank you. It is funny how we may not understand dogs sometimes. We provide them a safe, warm place, large meals, a company and care, yet, if given the chance, they may wander who-knows-where and make us chase and look for them. See more here http://dogsaholic.com/training/keep-your-dog-from-running-away.html

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi everyone honestly i am so worried i bought a baby yorkie at 3 weeks old because the mom passed away and the previous owner cut her tail now she dosent wnt to eat wht should i do im scared

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you so much for your post. I can't find anywhere or anyone talking about this. My 7 month Rott has had issues since the day I got her at 9 weeks!

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's my great honor to be on your blog,I benefit a lot from reading your blog..funny dog

    ReplyDelete
  13. My 9 month old rotti has his tail docked and it looks like it hasn't healed right. The hair isn't growing in on part of it and he gets scabs. I didn't realize they felt so much but it explains a lot. I feel so bad now. I wish he had his tail. It should be illegal in the United States too!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great article and do you have any tips i can do to help my dog with tail pain please. Vet suggested drugs but not keen to ho down that track. Thsnks Jo

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ok so we have an almost 4 year old lab wimeriner mix that had happy tail so bad we had to take it off. It's been over a week and she is depressed and doesn't know what to do. She is way more clingy than normal and yelps for no reason at all....dont know what to do????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How long did it take your pup to recover? I am dealing with happy tail and it sure isn't happy. We are on our second amputation, it is healing this time. The stitches and staples are out. Im having a hard time from keeping my pup from licking & chewing on it. ECollars won't work, his body & tail are too long, he can still reach. I've had to muzzle him which kills me. Does your pup continue to think she has a tail? have the nerves subsided? Does she have any ptsd and reoccurring pain?

      Delete
  16. I have a boxer. His tail was docked as well and its very short in my opinion. He has had so many problems with it. He has backed into things to many times to count and it hurts him so bad. I have had him to my vet a few times but vet did not see a problem. I hate docked tails! I see no point in this at all! I am going to get another opinion and hope there may be something i can do to help ease his pain! I love my dogs so much and knowing he suffers everyday mbreaks my heart!

    ReplyDelete