Such an array of spectacle seeing your dog welcome you back home, wagging its tail and swinging its waist from left to right, but a Limber tail syndrome could put a dent on that euphoric moment, causing its tail to be flaccid. Could your pet be sick with the Limber tail syndrome or just not happy to see you? Let’s find out if your dog has the limber tail syndrome, a condition most likely found in working dogs. Read on to get acquainted with what the limber tail syndrome looks like, its causes, symptoms and how to help your dog fix its broken wag.

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  1. What is Limber Tail in Dogs
  2. How Do Dogs Get Limber Tail
  3. Symptoms of Limber Tail Syndrome
  4. Limber Tail Treatment
  5. FAQs
  6. Conclusion

What is Limber Tail in Dogs

The limber tail syndrome, also known as acute caudal myopathy is a condition in which your dog’s tail assumes a flaccid or stiff position even when excited.

Usually, one of the body languages of an excited dog is tail wagging, when this does not happen, it could be that something has gone wrong.

The limber tail syndrome is known by many with different names such as the:

  • Swimmer’s tail
  • Cold water tail
  • Limp tail
  • Broken wag
  • Rudder tail
  • Sprained tail
  • Flaccid tail syndrome

Larger breeds of dogs such as the hounds, pointers and Retrievers are known to be more predisposed to this condition, most likely because they are working dogs. But research has it that this condition could be as well more related to some triggering factors.

To make sure your working dog does not come in contact with any of the predisposing factors, get the Petcube GPS tracker which will help you keep track of the whereabouts of your dog. With this your dog will never leave your sight.

A neighbour of mine had one time complained about his dog having a dull moment just after he allowed it to swim and play in the pool. He noticed his dog’s tail wasn't wagging even during feeding time. I explained to him that it could be because of the limber tail syndrome since he just had a cold swim in the pool. I advised him on resting and keeping the dog warm and in a few hours, his dog got back its wag.

The limber tail syndrome is not life threatening and usually has a very good prognosis when attended to on time. Its symptoms are easy to notice and do not require much expertise to resolve.

How Do Dogs Get Limber Tail

There are many reasons why your dog could have the Limber tail syndrome, these triggers are mostly activities done in an aggressive way or in extreme weather conditions. On a broader view, let's talk about some of the notable ways through which dogs get limber tail:


Have you had a moment with your dog not wagging its tail just after taking a swim? There are reports that swimming could result in limber tail syndrome. There are many suggestions to why this occurs, but according to researchers, about 76% of Labrador Retrievers had the limber tail syndrome just after swimming.

Cold weather

Exposing your dog to extreme cold weather conditions could predispose it to this condition. Very low temperature could affect blood flow which in turn constrict blood supplies to nerves and muscles around the tail base. This could be the reason why your dog experiences a form of numbness at its tail when exposed to cold weather conditions. Dogs who swim in cold water are most likely prone to have the same experience.

Hard exercise

Hard or vigorous exercise is one of the triggers of the limber tail syndrome in dogs. Dogs become exhausted and worn out after playing in the park all day. In this context, It should be understandable if your dog is not able to wag its tail as much as it does.


Overuse of the body is as bad as underuse, when dogs are confined in a limited space for too long without much room for exercise, some parts of their body become numb. Increasing the confinement space in this case would go a long way to relieving your dog from limber tail.

Symptoms of Limber Tail Syndrome

There are few symptoms one could look out for in a limber tail condition. All of these symptoms could occur either singly or simultaneously, some are fleeting while others could last for a longer time. This symptoms could vary amongst different dogs, they include:

  • Drooping tail
  • Loosely hanging tail in between the legs or tilted to one side
  • Discomfort and pain when sitting
  • A stiff tail base
  • Reluctance to move tail on its own
  • Loss of tail wag
  • A limp tail end
  • Pain when touched at the tail
  • Temperature may decrease at the tail base
  • Whining and sounds of discomfort

The limber tail symptoms are visible to the eye but could occur when one is not looking or close to the pet. To keep an eye on your dog for the symptoms of limber tail, get the Petcube Camera. With this, you don't have to be in thesame space with your dog to notice the symptoms.

This ordeal had happened to a relative of mine who was one time away from home and couldn't notice his dog had a limber tail. With technology like the Petcube camera, he could go on a vacation and not miss out on any change his dog goes through.

Limber Tail Treatment

Treating a limber tail is not rocket science, usually a typical limber tail syndrome should resolve within 10 hours to a few days on its own. There are home remedies one could also incorporate to relieve the dog of this condition.

“Dogs with limber tail syndrome usually recover within a few days when given enough time, rest and some anti-inflammatory to help with the pain”, - Dr Julie Buzby

Starting off with the home remedies, the following can be applied to relieve your dog off limber tail:

Apply warm compress

A warm compress at the base of the tail can help alleviate blood flow and circulation to the rest of the tail. This will allow the dog regain it vigour and wag.

Remove Confinement

Removing your dog from its confinement would encourage exercise and movement which will in turn help in blood circulation. But the activities of the dog should be moderated to avoid over excercising.

Avoid Swimming/Coldbath

Prevent your dog from swimming in cold water at this point in order not to worsen the condition. Only use warm water to bath or clean up the dog. Allowing your dog to take more cold bath will only worsen the condition.

Avoid vigorous activities

Do not let your dog engage in any rigorous activity if it has the limber tail syndrome. Reducing every trigger as much as possible would help the dog recover faster.

Anti-inflammatory drugs

If the home remedies do not work, it could be that the condition is too advanced and could need an expert to look into it. Taking your dog to the Vet for a proper physical examination at this point would be the best option. An anti-inflammatory drug will help reduce both inflammation and pain, especially at the base of the tail.

Raising funds for your dog’s limber tail treatment could be burdensome but we got your back! We have set out a Petcube’s Emergency Fund that allows you to take advantage of a $3000 coverage in emergency Vet fees which will go a long way to relieving you of some financial burdens giving your dog the best shot at life. If you are reading this, you also stand a chance to claim a 27% discount by subscribing using the exclusive link.


Is the limber tail painful?

Limber tail could cause some discomfort and put your dog under stress. Dogs react to the condition differently depending on the causative factor and extent of the condition.

How long does a limber tail last?

The limber tail condition usually will resolve within 10 hours to a few days when the triggering factor is removed. If the triggering factor is not removed, the limber tail could persist for a much longer time.

Does Limber tail resolve on its own?

With enough rest and when given enough time, the limber tail could go away but would need an anti-inflammatory inclusion if it persists.

What breed of Dogs are more predisposed to limber tail?

Mostly, working or sporting breeds of dogs are predisposed to Limber tail such as the Labrador Retriever, Beagles, Dalmatians, Coonhounds, Foxhounds, English Pointers and Setters.

Is the limber tail permanent?

Limber tail is not permanent if the causative agent can be removed or resolved. In cases of fracture or degeneration, the limber tail condition could be prolonged.


The limber tail condition is not life threatening and most times temporary. With much rest and maybe an anti-inflammatory inclusion, most dogs would pick up and the limber tail would be resolved. Dog owners should be keen on protecting their dogs from factors that could predispose them to this condition such as cold bath, rigorous activity or even excessive playing. With the right approach, limber tail would be a walk in the park.

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