Broken Dog Tail: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

Last Updated on March 6, 2023 by Woody Pet

Learn everything you need to know to treat and prevent a broken dog tail. There’s much to get to know and familiarize with, so let’s get started! 

Broken Dog Tail: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

Tails are also another one of a dog’s limbs, so it’s possible that it can get broken as well. Read on to find more about its symptoms, causes, treatments, and prevention.

Purpose of a Dog’s Tail

broken dog tail
Image From Justin Veenema

A dog’s tail is more than just a part of their cutesy appearance. It serves more than one great purpose: movement, balance, and communication.


Dogs move a lot. They run around, jump, crawl, shake, and possibly every type of movement you can do with four limbs. In every direction they turn to, their body needs assistance during the turn especially since they move fast. The way the tail moves in the same direction that the body is turning to helps as a counterweight to their body. Through this, the dog won’t be going off-course or tumbling around. 


Similar to how the tail supports its movement, it also helps with the dog’s balance. Think of it as another arm. Similar to how we use ours, dogs use their tail to balance themselves on uneven areas or footings such as rocks and trees. The tail does this by serving as an added weight on the opposite side of the dog’s tilt or the direction of where they put their weight in. 


On top of all that, dogs use their tails as a form of communication with other dogs. They may also communicate with humans but it’s more of us being able to understand their signals and movements rather than the dogs making it up specifically for us. 

The appearance of their tail depends on their mood. When they’re happy, they would most likely wag their tail. Likewise, their tails would be hidden between their legs when they’re frightened. Wagging their tails is also a sign of them asserting their dominance over other dogs. When their tails are higher, they want others to know of their presence. Consequently, more submissive dogs would most likely put their tails down.

In addition, just like for us, their form of communication is a learned behavior, meaning they would have to interact and socialize with other dogs to know how to communicate with them. Puppies, therefore, don’t wag their tails until they’re about 30 to 50 years old, which is the time when they usually play around with other dogs. 


broken dog tail
Image From Viktoria B.

Given all of those important functions, having a broken dog tail proves to be more than just a pain, but also a hindrance to their everyday life. Take note of the following symptoms:

  • Licking and biting at the tail
  • Bad smell coming from the tail
  • Hair loss 
  • Guarding the tail
  • Swelling
  • Open and bleeding wounds
  • Less wagging
  • Tail between the legs for no reason


If they appear to have a broken dog tail, there are many possible causes behind it, aside from physical injuries. They may range from abrasions to nerve damage.


Abrasions come from contact with rough or abrasive surfaces such as wire fencings and concrete steps. It can also occur when the dog catches their tail under something like a chair for example. This isn’t usually a cause for immediate action to the veterinarian. You can treat abrasions in dogs at your home with soap, warm water, antibiotic ointment, and bandages. Treat the wound daily with the same process. Remember, keep your dog from biting at their tail while in the healing process to prevent the wound from worsening. 


Lacerations are more severe than abrasions as they are cuts deep enough to show muscle and bone. This can come from the same reasons as abrasions. However, it may also be self-inflicted. Dogs that are nervous, bored, or have behavioral problems have a higher tendency to bite at their tails enough to inflict lacerations. Other causes include flea allergies, which the dog will most likely bite and scratch at due to discomfort. Lacerations can incur infections when left untreated and prolonged.

Happy Tail

As mentioned earlier, dogs wag their tail when they’re happy. But there are times when they get too happy that they get a broken dog tail instead. There are certain breeds of dogs that wag their tails constantly hitting many objects such as trees, walls, tables, and other hard objects enough that it can cause an injury. This type of injury proves to be difficult to treat especially since the source of the problem, which is the dog tail wagging, just won’t stop. It can expose many delicate nerves that require veterinary attention. 


The tail is also just another bone in their body, which also means that it’s susceptible to breaking. This often happens when the dog gets hit by a car, their tail gets slammed in a door, falls off a high place such as the porch or bed, and other physical injuries. The severity of the fracture depends on where it is most affected. 

If the fracture is at the tip of the broken dog tail, it usually doesn’t require treatment. It may have a bump or kink at the fractured site but it is not as severe as when the bones themselves are fractures. When this happens, it’s possible that part of the tail may need to be amputated. At the base of the tail, it may be a cause for nerve damage and other more serious complications. 

Nerve damage

This happens when the tail is strenuously pulled causing the nerves to stretch or tear. The base of the tail may also break which may sever nerves as well. 

Effects of such nerve damage can lead to incontinence, which means that the dog will not have control over their urination and defecation. The dog may also not be able to wag their tail as normally as before, or even raise it. Nerve damage can also cause the tail to hang limply. If you notice these symptoms in your dog, contact your veterinarian immediately.


Each treatment varies depending on how severe the broken dog tail is:

  • If the broken dog tail is caused by sprains or strains, it will usually heal on its own; give it a couple of days for it to completely rest up and heal. 
  • For a broken dog tail that comes from open wounds, clean the tail and dip it in a bowl of cold water for a couple of minutes. Pat it dry with a clean cloth and apply a small amount of antiseptic. Doing this stops the bleeding and reduces inflammation. The use of cold water and ice is effective in doing so as it prevents histamines, the chemicals that cause inflammation and swelling, from being released from the open wound. 
  • If the broken dog tail is severe already, seek help and treatment from your veterinarian as soon as possible. 


broken dog tail
Image From Maria Ionova

You can always do something to prevent a broken dog tail from happening. Take these precautionary steps: 

  • Make a conscious effort to not step on your dog’s tail. It seems obvious enough but this happens more often than one might expect. 
  • Keep them on a leash at all times when you’re outside, especially in unfamiliar and unsecured areas. This helps prevent other animals around from fighting your dog, and keeps your dog safe from impact on other solid objects in the surrounding area. 
  • Similarly, be careful in letting your dog down from high places such as the bed or the porch. Falling might cause a broken dog tail depending on how they land – remember, they’re not like cats.
  • A broken dog tail is also caused by frequent scratching that can lead to open wounds. Insert a flea treatment in your dog bathing regimen to prevent further scratching. 
  • As mentioned earlier, dogs also have the tendency to bite and lick their tails when they are stressed, enough that it can cause a broken dog tail. Give them the attention and companionship they need to alleviate the stress they might be enduring. 
  • Lastly, it’s important to also recognize that you cannot keep a close eye on your dog every second of every day. Given this, make it your responsibility to frequently check their tails for signs of scraps and injuries. 

Every part of a dog’s body is important and fragile, which makes them susceptible to different kinds of injuries and infections. One of them is a broken dog tail. Now that you know the signs, treatments, and preventive measures, be consistent in keeping your dog happy and safe! 

Has your dog ever had a broken dog tail? Let us know your experience down in the comments section and share your story with us! 


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