Thinking of a tail in a cast makes me giggle.
October 27, 2010 6:26 PM   Subscribe

Is there a veterinarian on the house? Bella, seen here, stuck her tail out a car door as it was closing. Big yelp, no blood, I can feel a lump about halfway down. She's also carrying it straight down which is not normal.

So I'm pretty sure I just broke the poor girl's tail. I have administered 3 baby aspirin based on a weight of 45 lbs to bring down any inflammation and to control any pain although other that the carry she seems not to mind it.
What do I need to watch for while it heals and can I expect her tail to resume it's formerly horizontal posture?
More pictures of Bella, Romero, and their cat Lucy are at Flickr. And of course, please guess the breed.
posted by Talia Devane to Pets & Animals (14 answers total)
I would take her to the vet. My dad shut our cat's tail in the doorway when I was a kid and it had to be amputated.
posted by something something at 6:29 PM on October 27, 2010

Is she currently in pain? If not, leave it until the morning and go see your rdvm. If she is, take her in to an emergency clinic to have it looked at.
posted by TheBones at 6:30 PM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

I second TheBones. She needs to be examined for fractures. If she's not in pain or distress now, you can take her in tomorrow morning, but she does need to go in to have the injury evaluated.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 6:37 PM on October 27, 2010

I'm also voting for taking her in.

And can I just say "Who's the sweetesht pubby? You are, you are!"
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:40 PM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Poor baby. And how adorable.

I thought as soon as I read your first paragraph that this sounds like a broken tail. And that suggests your pup is in a lot of pain. (Dogs tend not to be vocal about this -- silent suffering is common.) I'd head straight to an emergency animal hospital.

Best wishes to you and your adorable pooch.
posted by bearwife at 7:52 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: As much as I would like to take her in to the Dr., I've been unemployed since April and have very expensive chronic medical conditions of my own. We have no savings at all. It was something of a miracle that I was able to get both dogs vaccines 3 weeks ago.

So, with that in mind, for now pain is being managed with aspirin. She will wag her tail, but not surprisingly there is a kink where I can feel the lump. I can get the stretch self-sticking bandage in the morning and splint it myself. From Google it seems that there's really not a lot that can be accomplished at the vet immediately since treatment for a mid-tail break ranges from "do nothing" to amputate. I'm pretty sure that this is nowhere near amputation right now.

I need to know what to watch for that might change the situation from "do nothing" to amputate. I will be calling vets in the morning to see if any will talk to me on the phone.
posted by Talia Devane at 9:00 PM on October 27, 2010

My daughter, a vet tech, says to definitely call the office and explain everything to a doctor or an assistant (including finances). They should be able to tell you if Bella needs to be evaluated immediately or if you can wait. If the injury is close to the base, she said the common practice is amputation because they don't want a dog with a broken tail wagging since it will cause the dog considerable pain (and won't ever heal). If it's 3 inches up or higher, they will sometimes splint it, give the dog an Elizabethan collar and manage the dog's discomfort.

But she said you should prepare yourself to bring Bella in; you don't want her in any pain.

Good luck!
posted by dzaz at 2:51 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Something to be aware of is that "a broken tail can cause blood loss to the rest of the tail causing it to die and causing gangrene or decay." That answer was asked specifically about the Italian Greyhound breed, but this seems like an important consideration in any case. Not sure how much the next sentence refers more to that breed than other dogs: "If it [the tail] is still warm, stays "normal" colored, and the dog doesn't seem to bother it, then it should be fine - don't mess with it or you could end up making it cut off circulation causing the above problem." The first part is logical, the part about not bothering with it (by splinting, for example) may be more specific to the breed, since they have super skinny, extra fragile tails.

I hope you can get help! Good luck, kisses to Bella, and keep us posted!
posted by taz at 3:32 AM on October 28, 2010

Call your local humane society: they may have associated clinics that will see clients who have financial problems.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 4:18 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

Call your local humane society: they may have associated clinics that will see clients who have financial problems.

Yes, this is what I came in to say.

Also, could you work out a payment plan with the vet? Could you manage $10 a week?

Some vets may not be prepared to consider this, but if it makes the difference between being able to access care for your dog and not, it is worth politely asking a few vets (after you have explained your situation...)
posted by Hot buttered sockpuppets at 4:33 AM on October 28, 2010

i don't know much about the tail, but your adorable Bella looks to be part Westie.
posted by domino at 6:38 AM on October 28, 2010

There is also care credit.
posted by Mavri at 7:15 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why haven't you called a vet yet to ask just this question? Phone calls are free.

This isn't a moot question; do it now. Stop asking for professional advice from (mostly) unqualified strangers on the internet, when it's available from pro's near you who might be able/willing to further help you out, considering your financial predicament.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:42 PM on October 30, 2010

Response by poster: Sorry for the late update. I had sort-of forgotten about the question. By the next morning Bella was carrying and wagging her tail normally and seemed to have no pain. And she actually seems less perturbed about having her tail handled now than before it got shut in the door so there was an upside.

As for local programs to help with vet care, there are none in this area. I have checked within the last six months. The only thing available is slightly discounted spay/neuter programs. More credit cards are definitely not an option, We wouldn't be approved in any case. I have called vets for phone advice for the same issue with the other dog that I was looking for financial help with, some simply won't speak with you, others will and I truly appreciate them. However this was at 9:30 pm. We don't have emergency vets here.

And to the ever mysterious breed question, I have had her trimmed in a westie style head before, that groomer had Westies at home, but they don't normally weigh in at 45 lbs and 23 inches at the shoulder.
posted by Talia Devane at 3:26 PM on November 27, 2010

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