Has your dog ever gotten so excited or played so hard that the next day, he or she can’t seem to wag their tail? This is known as Happy Tail! While it has a fun name, it can actually be quite painful. 

Other Names for Happy Tail

  • Drop tail
  • Limber tail 
  • Cold tail
  • Rudder tail 
  • Swimmers tail 

What Causes Happy Tail?

The answer is… we are not 100% sure. It is seen most often either after swimming or after periods of intense tail-wagging, like a family get-together or trip to the dog park. There is some thought that the change of temperature between the air and water can cause the muscles to contract. This combined with intense use, as dogs use their tails for balance in the water, could injure the muscles at the base of the tail.  

Common Breeds That Experience Happy Tail

There are many breeds that can be affected, but typically it is dogs with long thin tails: 

  • Labrador retrievers
  • Pitbulls 
  • Great Danes 
  • Greyhounds
  • Mixed-breed dogs with long tails

Signs and Symptoms of Happy Tail

Your dog’s tail hangs limply or seems to be tucked under more than usual. He or she may seem uncomfortable and react to you touching his or her tail.

In some cases, dogs that wagged too much may have actually damaged the end of their tail hitting it against things—like walls. In these cases, you may see swelling or even open wounds at the end of the tail. 

Management and Treatment of Happy Tail

The first line of treatment is pain medication and rest. If your dog has actually damaged the end of his or her tail, your vet may try to bandage it to keep it clean and let it heal. Tail bandages are notoriously difficult to keep in place, especially with happy dogs! Vets may often recommend an e-collar or cone of shame to keep dogs from chewing at the bandage. In extreme cases, a partial tail amputation may be necessaryC