My Beagle rolled in fox poo on a walk, but after I bathed him, his tail looked broken. He couldn’t wag it and it stuck out behind him. It was the weekend and I was going to take him to the vet on Monday, but by then it had got better. Did he bruise it when he rolled or did I damage it when bathing him? Will it happen again?

James Farrell advises…

It is possible, but unlikely, that he injured it by rolling. Dogs often roll and are generally very good at doing it without incident, except for the liberal smearing of some nasty smell on the desired part of their body, generally that part you next pat! Bruising can be caused by a knock – I have seen my own dog have her tail knocked with a similar outcome by my bouncy, bigger dog. It can also be a sign of discomfort in anal glands. This is normally – but not always – accompanied by bottom biting and/or rubbing on the floor. Your boy may have emptied his anal glands unseen by you and cured himself.

However, as it occurred after a bath, I would be more inclined to consider it a case of ‘frozen tail’. This is inflammation at the base of the tail caused by a reaction to cold water. It is quite common in working water dogs, like retrievers, who have been running around and jumping into water. The bath may have been warm, but if he was hot before going in, the contrast in temperature could cause a mild case. Alternatively, it may have happened if he then ran around in the cold to get dry.

A persistent case can be helped with anti-inflammatories, but a mild case just needs time. To help avoid it recurring, let him cool down fully after a walk before bathing and make sure he is dried thoroughly afterwards and kept warm. He may, of course, do it to himself if he jumps into a pond, but do not worry unless he seems very uncomfortable or if it lasts more than a couple of days.

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