4 Injuries That Can Take the Wag Out of Your Pet's Tail

Nerve damage: There’s a good reason we teach kids not to pull a dog or cat’s tail. Damage caused by pulling — known as an avulsion injury — can affect the nerves and muscles that move the tail as well as the nerves that control urination and defecation. Avulsion injuries usually occur when the pet is hit by a car or the tail is yanked hard some other way. The nerves that serve the tail can be disrupted or badly stretched. Depending on the extent of the damage, the injury can cause the tail to hang limply, unable to move, or even affect the animal’s ability to urinate or defecate on his own. Nerve function may return in time, sometimes a month or more, but until then you may have to help your pet relieve himself.

Which pets are most prone to tail injuries? Outdoor cats or dogs allowed to roam are at high risk, but any pet can suffer a tail slammed in a door or land wrong if they fall off the sofa or bed.

Take your dog or cat to the veterinarian if he’s unable to move the tail, has severe skin damage or hair loss, or is unable to urinate or defecate.

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