How to avoid and treat cold tail, an unusual phenomenon that strikes some dogs.
Many of my friends were out training or hiking with their dogs this weekend in and around lakes and streams. With the unseasonably cold spring weather much of the country has had, it reminded me that it is “cold tail” season, so I thought I’d write about this strange phenomenon in dogs.
What is “Cold Tail?” “Cold tail,” also known as “limber tail” or “limp tail,” is a poorly understood syndrome that tends to strike hunting dogs (particularly hounds, retrievers. setters and pointers) but can affect other breeds. Little is known about the cause of cold tail and even less is known about effective treatments.
However, it most often strikes after a dog has gotten wet, either due to weather or by swimming or being bathed in cool or cold water, and is then inactive for a period. This can happen if a dog is crated after doing water retrieves but can also occur if a dog curls up in its bed for a few hours after a long hike.
What Happens with Cold Tail? When the dog gets up, her tail is drooping. Sometimes the tail hangs straight down from the back while other times, it sticks out for three to four inches before drooping toward the ground. Even with effort, the dog cannot pick her entire tail up to horizontal and usually cannot wag anything but the very tip. The whole picture is quite tragic, especially on a typically cheerful pooch.