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Can A Dog Break Its Tail

↯ Key takeaway points

  • A dog's tail is an extension of its backbone and can break due to various reasons like car accidents, excessive running, exercise, and limber tail syndrome.
  • Signs of a broken dog tail include excessive whining, licking, swelling, limping or degloving, bleeding, a bent or tucked tail, tail biting, and a limp tail.
  • Common dog tail injuries include abrasion, cuts or lacerations, dislocation, fractured tail, happy tail syndrome, infections, limber or cold tail, nerve damage, and sprain and strain.
  • Owners can prevent dog tail injuries by limiting vigorous activities and implementing proper rest time.
  • If the injury is significant, the owner should bring their dog to the nearest veterinary hospital for proper treatment, and the cost of treatment depends on the severity of the injury.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Wednesday 21 December 2022
Last updated on
Thursday 25 May 2023
Can A Dog Break Its Tail
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Dogs can sometimes hurt themselves because they are very active. These injuries can range from small cuts to severe bone fractures. It’s common to see dogs limping due to a broken paw or leg, but it’s rare for a dog to break its tail. Have you ever wondered what a broken dog’s tail looks like? In this article, we will find out

Can Dogs Break Their Tails?

The tail of a dog is like an extension of its spine, and the number of bones in it can vary depending on the breed. Usually, a dog’s tail has around 6 to 23 vertebrae. Despite being a sturdy bone, a dog’s tail can break due to car accidents, excessive exercise, or running. Even swimming for too long can cause a painful condition called limber tail, which affects the tail’s muscles.

Back in 1985, a study showed that cases of broken dog tails are rare but not impossible. Sometimes, dogs may dislocate their tailbones by pulling or slamming their tail into a door, for example. It’s important to understand that a dislocation happens when the bone is out of place, while a fracture occurs when the bone breaks.

We should keep in mind that our furry friends may experience discomfort and pain when they hurt their tails. It’s essential to take them to the vet for proper treatment and care

Signs of Broken Dog Tail

Recent research in 2020 has shown that dogs may experience pain and changes in their behavior when they suffer injuries like a broken tail. You might notice excessive whining or whimpering, and your dog may also lick the affected area. This licking is a natural instinct that can help with healing, so it’s essential to keep an eye on your dog and make sure they don’t overdo it.

It’s worth noting that dogs can also hide their pain. Sometimes, a dog with a broken tail may act as if nothing is wrong, making it difficult to tell if they’re hurt. This behavior is a survival instinct that helps protect them from predators when they’re sick or injured.

If you suspect that your dog’s tail is injured or broken, there are some signs you can look out for, including swelling, a limp tail, degloving (the loss of skin and tissue), bleeding, a bent tail, a tucked tail, and tail biting.

Overall, it’s essential to pay attention to your dog’s behavior and take them to the vet if you suspect they’re in pain. Remember, your dog’s tail is an important part of their body, and taking care of it is essential for their well-being

Common Dog Tail Injuries

Dogs don’t speak our language, so they can’t tell us where they’re hurting. Also, sometimes they don’t like to show weakness. As owners, we need to be vigilant in assessing our dogs’ health. Hence, here are the common signs of broken tails in dogs.


A dog’s tail can break if it comes in contact with harsh surfaces like concrete walls, or gets caught in doors. As a result, the tail loses some of its furs and becomes swollen. In some instances, the impact is so strong that it doesn’t only leave scratches and inflammation, but also fractures.

Abrasion is caused by blunt trauma. Also, first aid treatment for basic cases involves washing the affected tail with warm water, putting on antibiotic ointment, and dressing. Yet, in worst scenarios, a tail may have a deep scrape that exposes the dermis layer. If that’s the case, then visit a veterinarian. 

Cuts or Lacerations

Another common sign of a broken dog tail is having cuts or lacerations. Usually, small cuts don’t pose problems since they can heal on their own. Yet, if that injury exposes tissues or even the tailbone, then it’s a major concern.  

Cuts are caused by sharp objects and they can happen anytime to your dog. To prevent that, owners must keep away sharp objects. However, if one day you find your dog with a wound like this, don’t panic. Clean the wound with warm water and wrap it with a bandage or a clean towel. Afterward, go to the nearest animal clinic.


Dogs can break their tails when they fall over, or even when they over-exercise. A dislocation occurs when some of their dog tail vertebrae separate. For dogs, this is a very painful situation that needs urgent medical care. Yet, all these things are preventable by training your dog to be cautious.

Another thing, dislocation can’t be seen since it doesn’t involve the breaking of the skin. As a pet owner, you need to be observant in checking your dog’s tail. Moreover, look for signs of swelling, bending, and discomfort. Further, when you finally know about your dog’s condition, take him to the nearest vet.

Fractured Tail

Fractured dog tails are painful medical conditions. There are two common classifications of fracture. First is the compound fracture, in which the bone protrudes out of the skin. Next is the closed fracture, where the bone is broken, yet the skin is still intact.

Fractures can also happen to dogs, anytime and anywhere. So, the best thing you can do to avoid this is to train your dog to minimize jumping and other vigorous exercises. Moreover, the same as dislocations, fractures can’t be treated at home. Hence, owners must bring their injured dogs to the hospital immediately.

Happy Tail

The happy tail syndrome is the common cause of most broken dog tails. Moreover, this involves canines wagging their tails forcefully. As a result, they hit objects and injure their tails.

In worst cases, the repeated hitting of objects causes skin ulcers with poor blood circulation that take too long to heal. Yet, this syndrome is preventable. Owners can encourage their dogs to act calmly in certain situations.

A dog’s tail has healthy amounts of blood supply. So, when it bleeds, apply basic first aid. Clean the area with warm water, apply healing ointment, and then bandage it. Further, if bleeding persists, consult a veterinarian.


Dog tail injuries are prone to infections. They’re likely to happen if you leave your dog’s deep cuts or fractures unattended. Common signs of it include abscess, swelling, and a foul odor. Meanwhile, dog tail infections can also be due to anal gland problems and parasitic infestations. That’s because when dogs bite the infected area, it becomes inflamed and irritated.

Yet, infections can be avoided. As an owner, you need to clean your dog’s injury first. Then, apply antibiotics, and bandage it. Infections must be taken seriously, so if it persists even after treatment, then consult the nearest veterinary hospital.

Limber or Cold Tail

The limber tail has a medical term called Acute Caudal Myopathy. Moreover, this condition is easy to determine. If you noticed your dog without its trademark wags, then he probably has a limber tail. Other indicators of this disorder also include discomfort while walking and whining while sitting or lying down.

This usually happens when canines overuse their tails while swimming and running. Yet, this can also be caused by prolonged crate confinement. Well, to avoid limber tails, limit your dog’s exposure to cold weather and vigorous exercises. Also, this disorder requires rest and normally goes away after two weeks.

Nerve Damage

A dog’s tail also has lots of nerve fibers. Small damage to the tail’s tip can affect these nerves. Moreover, nerve damage may cause your dog’s tail to be limp. Canines with this condition will not be able to wag or even lift their tails during potty breaks.

Meanwhile, our furry companions can get this disorder due to falling accidents or, sometimes, a sudden pull on their tails. Yet, a broken dog tail due to nerve damage is still treatable with steroids and pain medications. Plus, rest is essential to ensure that the tail recovers.

Sprain and Strain

Dogs can break their tails due to certain traumas and overuse. Plenty of ligaments and tendons are present in canines’ tails. So, when they wag uncontrollably and hit solid objects, they may tear those ligaments. As a result, they will experience a muscle sprain.

Dogs may also pull a tendon due to falling accidents or over-exercise. When that happens, they get an injury called strain. Moreover, owners can prevent these disorders by limiting their dogs’ vigorous activities and implementing proper rest time. Well, normal to severe sprain and strain injuries may heal ranging from 2 to 8 weeks just by resting.   

When to Bring Your Injured Dog to the Vet

Even small cuts or abrasions can cause a lot of pain to your furry friend, especially a fractured tail. As a pet owner, the first thing you should do in case of an injury is to provide first aid. Just like with humans, you need to clean your dog’s wound with warm water and cover it with a bandage. However, if the wound is deep or severe, seek medical attention immediately.

Injuries can also happen without visible wounds. If your dog seems to be in pain or is showing signs of aggression, it could be due to a fracture or dislocation. To prevent further discomfort, it’s best to take your dog to the nearest animal hospital for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Can A Dog Break Its Tail: FAQs

Due to strenuous activities, it’s only normal for dogs to have broken or injured tails. Well, if you can’t help but worry about your canine’s welfare, then read the frequently asked questions most owners ask about dog tail injuries below.

How do you treat a dog’s tail injury?

The treatment depends on the injury. For starters, a dog only needs a long rest if it’s a sprain or strain injury. In terms of lacerations or abrasions, you need to clean the wound first and then put pressure on it.

How long does a dog’s broken tail take to heal?

Minor injuries may only take a few days to heal. Yet, in cases of deep lacerations and fractures, it may take months. Also, a full recovery may take up to six weeks in terms of sprains and strain injuries.

Does a dog’s injured tail heal on its own?

Yes, but healing depends on the wound. A small closed fracture on a dog’s tail may heal on its own even without the proper treatment. However, if it’s something that involves infection or compound fractures, then it won’t heal on its own. Further, without the proper treatment, the injury could progress and lead to amputation.

How much does it cost to treat a dog’s broken tail?

The cost of hospitalization depends on the severity of the tail injury. For example, if it doesn’t require surgery, then the price ranges from $50 to $250. On the contrary, complex surgical treatments may cost up to $1000.

Do dogs feel pain in their tails?

Yes. Dogs have pain receptors in their tails, too. Tails have networks of nerves that make them responsive. Also, according to a study in 2020, pain sensitivity varies by breed. It was found that small dogs like Pomeranians have high pain sensitivity compared to large dogs like Labrador Retrievers.

Tails are important for dogs. They use it as a balance when walking and as a rudder during swimming. Also, dogs can break their tails during careless situations. As owners, it’s our responsibility to look after our canines. Further, if those tail injuries swell and bleed profusely, then you should seek urgent veterinary care. 

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