According to a study from the University of Edinburgh, new information is showing the condition in dogs known as limber tail could be a result of both genetic and geographic factors. Limber tail is the non-medical name given to the condition called Acute Caudal Myopathy. This is when the dog’s tail goes limp as a result of them being unable to move it due to pain. It can also be called swimmer’s tail, water tail, and cold tail – all names that can give some insight into how these injuries occur. Limber tail will manifest itself in the muscles at the base of the dog’s tail and it makes it impossible for them to move their tails, so they just dangle limply. 

The most common sign of this condition is your dog having a limp tail that they can’t wag or move like normal. Other signs are trouble walking or standing, pain while going to the bathroom, struggling to get comfortable, and whimpering or other pain vocalizations. It is a very painful condition, so many pet parents will report that their dogs are in great pain when they experience such an injury. 

Veterinary journals first wrote about the condition in 1997, when there was very little research into the subject. Back then, it was believed that the cause for limber tail was cold weather, swimming in cold water, overexertion, or being cramped in small spaces. 

Nowadays, there has been a lot more research done into the subject, and it seems that working dog breeds or dogs who have been excessively swimming are more likely to suffer from limber tail – apparently up to five times more likely. But at the same time, the study from Edinburgh University has stated geography could also be a factor as well. As far as geography goes, the chances of a dog developing limber tail increases by 50% with each increase in latitude north. Additionally, cold and wet weather can have an effect on the condition’s risk. While this might be unavoidable where you’re living, you can still help your dog stay healthy by keeping your dog dry and warm after walks, or by avoiding strenuous walks until your dog has worked up their stamina. 

Other treatments that can help your dog are to get them examined by a vet in order to make sure that there isn’t any bone damage or other underlying health issues. Anti-inflammatory drugs, which can be prescribed by your vet, can also be helpful to your dog’s tail issues. But don’t self-prescribe pills to your dog yourself – always leave the prescriptions to your vet. Heat packs can also be a great alleviant for any sore tail muscles. And of course, let your dog rest. That is the best way for them to recover. 

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