What is swimmer's tail?


Swimmer's tail - our experts explain what causes swimmer's tail in dogs and how to treat the condition...

(Q) After swimming or a walk in the rain, my Lab's tail goes limp and she can't seem to wag it; she also seems reluctant to go for a walk. A dog walker I met said it might be something called swimmer's tail. What is this?


(A) Holly Mash says: Limber tail, cold water tail, or swimmer's tail, is a very painful condition that seems to affect swimming breeds such as Labradors, usually the day after they have been swimming or have had a bath in cold water. Their tails are extremely painful, usually at the base, and they react painfully to any attempt to lift their tail, or touch them near the tail base. Often they walk with their tail tucked in.

Get your dog checked over by the vet straight away if you suspect this condition. Treatment for the condition is usually anti-inflammatory medication and rest.

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(A) Roberta Baxter says: Swimmer's tail, acute caudal myopathy, or limber tail, is a condition that isn't well understood. Typically a dog is presented to the vet with a tail that drops limply from a few inches away from the bottom, and isn't wagged. The dog often seems miserable and sore, and has usually been swimming within the previous 48 hours.

Vets generally assume that the condition is associated with the use of muscles that aren't well conditioned to this exercise. However, I'm sure I've seen the condition in a dog who hadn't been swimming but had been wet, so I wonder if the cause is more complex than we realise.

The best thing to do is speak to your vet to make sure nothing else is going on, and then to see if your dog responds to rest and anti-inflammatories.