Dog’s Limp Tail May Be Cold Water Tail

Most dogs recover on their own, but pain medication can help.


Q. My dog is hanging his tail instead of its normal state of being upright. Any idea what the problem is?

A. If your dog has been swimming or recently had a bath with cold water, he probably has “limber tail,” also known as “cold water tail.” It is a very painful condition that will cause dogs to hold their tails between their legs, and they usually react sharply if you try to touch the tail’s base.
There is not much known about what actually causes this condition, but it is suspected that somehow the muscles at the base of the tail become paralyzed temporarily by the cold water. Fortunately, dogs will eventually get over this condition on their own, but in the meantime they should be given pain medications. Most veterinarians would prescribe an anti-inflammatory such as Rimadyl or other pain killer such as Tramadol.
If your dog seems painful around the base of his tail, you can give your dog aspirin at a dose of about 10 mg per pound twice a day. This should only be done for two days at the most, because aspirin will eventually cause stomach bleeding in dogs.


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Roxy   San Francisco, California

11/28/2015 4:27:07 PM

My dog Roxie has her tail down just like a dog with cold tail would have; but she hasn't been in cold water. It did freeze last night when I took her out. Could that be it? Please right back!

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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

5/15/2013 4:05:48 AM

My daughters 2 labs get this every spring when they go to the cottage the first time for the season. Both dogs swim allot. After about a day or 2 their tails are fine again. One of these labs is a healthy 17 year old but for almost 17 years he get this just for a couple of days after the first visit for the season to the cottage. Neither of her dogs appear to have much or any pain with this.

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michael   liverpool,

6/15/2012 6:03:01 AM

my dog suki has limber tail. she has not been in cold water of had a cold bath. is there any other way she could of got this limber tail without being in cold water please write back ?

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Rose   Highlands Ranch, CO

6/3/2012 12:34:48 PM

Thank you for your advice. Our border collie fetched sticks in our local dog park pond staying in the water for over an hour. I was really concerned of what may have happened to him permanently. But we have read your article and gave him his first aspirin today. I am grateful for your article. Bailey's mom.

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