The chances are you've never given your dog's wag much thought before. Whether they're pleased to see you, excited to play fetch, or happy to be fed, there are multiple reasons why your dog may wag his tail in your general direction. However, there are some dogs who are incapable of wagging their tails, or those that may find such a motion more difficult than others. Called limber tail syndrome, acute caudal myopathy, or simply "cold tail", the condition causes a pup's tail to fall limp.
What Causes Limber Tail Syndrome?
Affecting many large working breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, limber tail is more commonly diagnosed in dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors, or swimming. Limber tail is exacerbated by the cold, which could be why dogs inhabiting the northern states are more likely to be afflicted than those in the south. According to a study conducted by Edinburgh University, a dog's chance of developing limber tail rose by 50% for each degree of latitude further north, as temperatures begin to dip.
What about working dogs? The team at Edinburgh University discovered that dogs that spend a great deal of their time outdoors are five times more likely to develop limber tail, because they spend longer days exposed to cold weather. Those that swim can also be affected as they are usually left to dry off naturally.
Dr. Carys Pugh of the Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies told The Telegraph: "We have been able to add evidence to a lot of internet speculation about risk factors, and the new findings relating to geographical region and family links give us avenues to pursue in understanding and avoiding the condition."
The symptoms of limber tail usually disappear by themselves in a matter of days or weeks, however, many pet parents report that their dogs are distressed for the duration. This new information should help veterinary professionals to advise pet parents about opportunities for care and rehabilitation.