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End Of Tail Severed In The Door


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Several weeks ago, I was called away for a family emergency when my grandpa became gravely ill in Texas. Unfortunately, DW badly sprained her ankle the night before my flight when Brooks tugged at his leash and pulled her into a dip in the front yard. They say bad things come in threes. Sadly, two days, later, this old maxim held up once again.

 

With DW laid up on the couch and me still out of town, my mom volunteered to come walk Brooks. The walk was uneventful, but upon returning to the house, she wasn't vigilant about his tail. The storm door, with the glass already installed for the winter, slammed as Brooks passed the threshold. It severed about two inches of his poor tail. I'll spare everyone the most gory details, but DW described it thus: Brooks SCREAMED and began rushing around. Blood was everywhere. My wife hobbled onto the scene, and meanwhile my mom couldn't figure out what was wrong and why Brooks was bleeding so much -- until she saw the stump outside the door on the front porch.

 

The vet had to remove another 1.5" of crushed tail that afternoon. Brooks has been home recuperating ever since, lots of hugs and treats. The tail was dressed with a fairly substantial amount of gauze and tape, and a wide plastic syringe protecting about 6" above and below the amputation point. After one week, we took him in for a check-up and it seemed to be healing fine. He was so good about leaving it alone that we didn't even need the cone of shame. But Brooks being a HAPPY TAIL dog, every new visitor or return home comes with a fair amount of tail-whapping on the walls. My wife and I cringed and hoped it wasn't delaying his recovery. It was. This morning, the doc said too much "raw meat" has become exposed at the site of the amputation, so they will need to dissect another inch or more to leave enough skin for a complete recovery.

 

I hope this is a safe space to bring all this up, because I feel genuinely awful. As a new greyhound daddy, I'm still learning more and more about the breed -- and finding that there's a lot more to know than what can be read in the books. This forum has been a great help as I've read several of the threads about "happy tail" injuries today. While it's nice to know that tail injuries are somewhat common, I still feel like a terrible pet owner who should have done more to prevent his injury from growing worse. I wish I'd seen the pipe insulation idea sooner, and I'm grieving for this poor pup's remaining tail if the problem recurs. I really hope this last amputation gives him enough skin to heal the wound!

 

One question I haven't found an adequate answer to: should we have put Brooks on pain medications of any kind? He was only prescribed a course of antibiotics. It seems like his personality hasn't suffered too much over the past two weeks, but he is perhaps a bit more Velcro and a bit lethargic since it all happened and I wonder if he's not experiencing some pain. He is not afraid of my mom or any doors, so at least PTSD doesn't seem to be a factor. But he was VERY touchy and sensitive about the tail at each of his vet visits since it happened, and he's been licking the area a lot today since the dressing/syringe was taken off. (The vet said it won't matter if he licks at it since they're going to amputate more on Monday...)

 

I can't direct-link the image, but here's an Instagram photo of Brooks in the cone the one and only day that he wore it.

Drew and occasionally DW Melody, with Rosie (AMF Ready Made) and Marvin (Bella Riddick) in Louisville. Forever missing Brooks (KC Bastone) and Kali (Swish).

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He should be fine. Tails take a long time to heal. The trick is to keep it wrapped for at least a couple of weeks to make sure it is totally healed. My boy got happy tail when he first came home to live with us. He whacked it on the door frame and split it open. He ended up losing a bit of his tail before all was said and done. After the amputation, we kept it wrapped up for 3 weeks until it was completely healed up. He's never had another problem with it. You can ask the vet for some pain meds. Tramadol would probably work for him. Once the amputation is over, a couple of day on pain meds should be enough.

 

Don't feel like a bad dad, accidents happen all the time and thankfully our hounds have short memories when it comes to thing like this.

Judy, mom to Darth Vader, Bandita, And Angel

Forever in our hearts, DeeYoGee, Dani, Emmy, Andy, Heart, Saint, Valentino, Arrow, Gee, Bebe, Jilly Bean, Bullitt, Pistol, Junior, Sammie, Joey, Gizmo, Do Bee

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Make sure your vet double wraps the skin on the tip--that's the only thing that worked on my dog. And FYI, this is NOT a Greyhound-specific thing. My last dog was a mutt and he had a HORRIBLE case of happy tail which resulted in needing a partial amputation.

 

Keep the tail wrapped for AT LEAST three weeks past when you think it needs to be wrapped. Trust me on this!!!!


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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This is not a judgement on my part, but that made me sick just reading about it. Poor Brooks :(. I'm rather surprised they didn't give him anything for pain when it happened. I imagine it would be comparable to having a finger severed and I couldn't imagine being without pain meds for that. I've never personally dealt with happy tail thankfully, but a good idea I've read is to tape the dog's tail to one leg so they can't whack it around while its healing.

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Yeah, I was pretty surprised when I came home and DW said "he was great until the rest of the anesthesia wore off." I would be lining up for meds if I so much as slammed my pinkie in the door, let alone severed it!

 

Thanks for the support, gang. I guess the first amputation wasn't done well enough since his tail was well wrapped until his check-up this morning. I will hope the next amputation gets enough skin over the area, and we will definitely leave it bandaged way beyond the 2-3 weeks our vet recommended!

 

@GeorgeofNE, how does that work, exactly? Does an extra layer of skin really just amount to padding, or is it supposed to be enmeshed with the first layer and supplied by blood vessels? A little confused... but thanks for the suggestion. My vet is an old school guy and we live in the country, so I suspect he wouldn't necessarily heed my advice either way.

Drew and occasionally DW Melody, with Rosie (AMF Ready Made) and Marvin (Bella Riddick) in Louisville. Forever missing Brooks (KC Bastone) and Kali (Swish).

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My vet took out two extra vertebrae with Valentino so he would have plenty of skin to close and heal well. It worked perfectly and we've never had a problem. He still whacks his tail against the doors and walls all the time and his tail has never reopened. Just make sure the vet puts a lot of padding on the tip of that tail to protect it from any bumps. We also went back for bandage changes every couple of days during that first week so make sure everything was healing well. Then it was once a week after that.

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Judy, mom to Darth Vader, Bandita, And Angel

Forever in our hearts, DeeYoGee, Dani, Emmy, Andy, Heart, Saint, Valentino, Arrow, Gee, Bebe, Jilly Bean, Bullitt, Pistol, Junior, Sammie, Joey, Gizmo, Do Bee

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I can only imagine how sick you must feel. Things happen, though, no matter how much we try to protect. You are so right about there being more to dog ownership than what can be read in a book. I hope your boy heals thoroughly.

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Guest grey_dreams

Poor Brooks. For pain, try Traumeel. It works really well, and functions as analgesic and anti-inflammatory and also promotes healing. My boy had surgery one week ago to remove a malignant tumor and lost a big chunk of tissue from around the site. The vet gave me Previcox (NSAID), but we've only been using Traumeel and he's doing great, no pain, and the incision is healing well. You can get Traumeel from Amazon or anyplace where you can buy natural foods or natural products. Hope Brooks heals well.

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When one of my greys needed an amputation, they took an extra vertebrae below the amputation point to make sure that it had enough skin to heal.

 

Having the plastic syringe over the amputation helped prevent injuring healing tail. I would ask for pain meds for your dog!

 

The silver lining: once the tail heals (and it does take time), your grey won't remember having a long tail and will be perfectly happy and healthy!

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Traumeel is what my wife uses on her sprained ankle! We have a tube of the stuff already in the house. Eureka!

 

I'm curious how many of you would recommend binding his tail to his leg, or otherwise trying to forcibly stop him from wagging it. I don't know much about dog physiology but that seems like it might create a lot of stress and/or bone pain nearer to his rump?

Drew and occasionally DW Melody, with Rosie (AMF Ready Made) and Marvin (Bella Riddick) in Louisville. Forever missing Brooks (KC Bastone) and Kali (Swish).

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Guest grey_dreams

Traumeel is what my wife uses on her sprained ankle! We have a tube of the stuff already in the house. Eureka!

 

I'm curious how many of you would recommend binding his tail to his leg, or otherwise trying to forcibly stop him from wagging it. I don't know much about dog physiology but that seems like it might create a lot of stress and/or bone pain nearer to his rump?

 

Just wanted to say that we use the tablets. Haven't tried the creme. I'm not sure if it's good to put the creme on an open wound. Try to find some info about its use (read the label, search the internet). The tablets work really well too and that's what we have always used. Good luck!

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I use the traumeel tablets as well as suggested by my holistic vet. Many years ago I was bringing in my two greyhounds from a walk and did not .notice my girl had not stepped far enough into the foyer and the full glass storm door closed on her tail. It wasn't severed but the skin was torn open and needed about fourteen sutures to close it and weeks of dressing changes. In addition to her dressing I kept a ladies knee sock over it, it was still breathable but kept her from touching the dressing itself. Your boy will be fine it will just take some time.

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If his tail is wrapped really well you shouldn't have t worry about it wagging. It should be padded enough and I wouldn't put annthing on it as far as creams and such.

Judy, mom to Darth Vader, Bandita, And Angel

Forever in our hearts, DeeYoGee, Dani, Emmy, Andy, Heart, Saint, Valentino, Arrow, Gee, Bebe, Jilly Bean, Bullitt, Pistol, Junior, Sammie, Joey, Gizmo, Do Bee

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The tie-the-leg trick isn't supposed to immobilize the tail completely. It's supposed to restrict movement just enough that the tail can't whack into the walls. You leave a good bit of slack in the gauze from the tail to the leg, and the dog almost always forgets that the restraint is there. After all, if a happy dog will ignore the fact that he's slamming his tail into the wall, he'll probably also ignore the fact that he's not swinging the tail as wide as he used to. Leave enough slack that he can wag his tail several inches in any direction. With luck, he'll tolerate the restraint just fine. If he shows signs of being annoyed with it, you can take it off then.

 

Another suggestion I just read: jockey shorts. Put them on him in the usual direction, and direct his tail down and thru the fly. The dog will have room to wag the tail, but the shorts will keep the tail lower and less able to hit obstacles. The person suggesting it swore that it worked. Frankly, I think a dog would be more upset about wearing jockey shorts than about wearing a bit of bandage tied to one leg, but YMMV. ;)

 

Also, you may need to rearrange furniture in such a way that Brooks's happiest moments occur away from walls and furniture. If the walls are too close in the area where he greets people coming into the house, keep him out of that narrow area (baby gates or an ex-pen). If there's a piece of furniture he consistently hits with his tail, drape a heavy blanket down the sharp/hard edge he's hitting. (I had to hang a towel off the side of a desk in a motel to keep a dog's tail from smacking the desk leg.)

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Kathy and Q (CRT Qadeer from Fuzzy's Cannon and CRT Bonnie) and
Jane (WW's Aunt Jane from Trent Lee and Aunt M); photos to come.

Missing Silver (5.19.2005-10.27.2016), Tigger (4.5.2007-3.18.2016),
darling Sam (5.10.2000-8.8.2013), Jacey-Kasey (5.19.2003-8.22.2011), and Oreo (1997-3.30.2006)

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I'm so sorry ... and just know that you're not the only one.

 

Riley now has to wear a reflective collar, since the tip of his tail was the only thing I could see in the yard at night. His tail got injured on the way OUT the door, and he, too, needed an amputation.

 

I have my screen/storm door set so that it has to be pulled shut ... not ideal for anyone who has little people in the house (who may not pay attention to closing doors or gates), but I have a baby gate just inside the front door that provides some protection from escape artists.

 

Hope Brooks heals quickly!

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This is not a judgement on my part, but that made me sick just reading about it. Poor Brooks :(. I'm rather surprised they didn't give him anything for pain when it happened. I imagine it would be comparable to having a finger severed and I couldn't imagine being without pain meds for that. I've never personally dealt with happy tail thankfully, but a good idea I've read is to tape the dog's tail to one leg so they can't whack it around while its healing.

 

But you'd be imagining something that can't possibly be so. Our fingers are full of nerves so that we can TOUCH things and tell what they are. A tail is not. Which is not to say it has NO nerves. Can you imagine how incredibly painful wagging a tail and whacking furniture with it (which every dog I've ever known does happily) if the tail had the same kind of sensation in it that fingers do?

 

My dog was certainly never given pain meds for his tail. Part of pain control with an animal is, I think, a delicate balance between relieving the pain and totally taking the pain away. Since you cannot explain to a dog "don't let your tail hit the table for a month!" if you took away ALL the pain, he's much less likely to be careful about it.


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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Guest sinaminsmom

Hi Brooks - first let me suggest lots of ice cream to eat. You can make your parents feel really guilty with this injury. Feel better, Sinamin

 

Sinamin too had 4 inches of tail amputatied last Friday - Happy tail, stitches, and then more surgery a week later because there was not sufficient blood flow to the injury.

I have another suggestion for protecting the tail - our vet used a piece of pipe insulation. Very lite weight. Our problem now is that where the adhesive tape was on the skin, it looks almost like a bad brush burn. Vet aplied an antibiotic ointment (with insulin, interesting) to help it heal. Back yet again to change bandages tomorrow. Sinamin was given rimadyl for the pain, but she takes it for her arthritis anyway. He will forget - this is our second go round with happy tail this year, and she also cut her leg getting into the car. I am thinking they will name a new wing at the vets after her.

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He should be fine. Tails take a long time to heal.

 

I dealt with two tail amputations this year (one dog had his tail injured under a door, the other had a tiny laceration that got worse due to happy tail). Tails really do take a long time to heal. We are going on two months with Truman's. My advice is to keep it protected for as long as possible, even if you think it's pretty much healed. The new skin will still be tender, so even if it looks healed, it could still be vulnerable to injury.

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Well, I'm here at the vet, and Brooks isn't in great shape today. The bit of bone sticking out the end of his tail is dead, and although it continues to ooze blood at the site (thus it's likely viable down that far), our doc says his opinion is to amputate another 8-10 inches. This, he believes, is the best assurance that the tail can heal (with the help of our TLC). He will do whatever we ask him to do, but this was his recommendation.

 

I do trust this particular doc's opinion over some of his colleagues, but still regret the loss of such a profound amount of his tail. But he will need another amputation today regardless of the amount.

 

I need to decide in the next 5 minutes, so I post this mainly to help organize my thoughts, but if anyone is reading this now and has a suggestion for the best thought process here, it would be appreciated!

Drew and occasionally DW Melody, with Rosie (AMF Ready Made) and Marvin (Bella Riddick) in Louisville. Forever missing Brooks (KC Bastone) and Kali (Swish).

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You'll miss that extra bit of tail lots more than he will. What's left will still wag, but it'll be short enough to keep out of trouble.

 

I wouldn't hesitate to take off the extra length.

15060353021_97558ce7da.jpg
Kathy and Q (CRT Qadeer from Fuzzy's Cannon and CRT Bonnie) and
Jane (WW's Aunt Jane from Trent Lee and Aunt M); photos to come.

Missing Silver (5.19.2005-10.27.2016), Tigger (4.5.2007-3.18.2016),
darling Sam (5.10.2000-8.8.2013), Jacey-Kasey (5.19.2003-8.22.2011), and Oreo (1997-3.30.2006)

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OUCH - poor Brook. But as others have said, this is a very common injury, and many people here on Greytalk have accidentally allowed a door to shut on their dog's tail - or someone else in the household has done so. It's a real hazard with such a long-tailed breed.

 

I hope he heals OK this time. Bear in mind that the shorter it gets, the less likely it is that he'll whack it on things in the future!

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The plural of anecdote is not data

Brambleberry Greyhounds My Etsy Shop

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Thanks, KF. I agree that aesthetic reasons shouldn't trump his health. I like our odds for a swifter healing/recovery period instead of prolonged pain if the minimal approach doesn't pan out. I went ahead and said yes. He will definitely stand out in a crowd now! But hopefully his playfulness will return quickly and we won't constantly have to worry about his happy tail causing recurrences.

 

I'm not going to lie, I'm still disappointed ... and very concerned right now, as he's under the knife this morning. Thanks for the helpful thoughts and advice, GT.

Drew and occasionally DW Melody, with Rosie (AMF Ready Made) and Marvin (Bella Riddick) in Louisville. Forever missing Brooks (KC Bastone) and Kali (Swish).

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Not too worry- I was disappointed when Henry's tail had to be amputated too. But the good news is that when they take that much off, the healing process is so much easier. Also, the shorter the tail, the less likely he'll injure it again. I'm sure Brooks won't miss it and will look as cute as ever! When my Truman had his tail amputated, they only took off a few inches. We're going on two months, and it's still not fully healed. I wish they would've taken more off!

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  • 1 month later...

Well, it's been a LONG while and I've been lurking on the site without remembering to top this thread. Figured it was time to update everyone!

 

The last time I posted, Brooks was just about to have his second tail amputation. The vet ended up taking another two feet beyond what had already been removed in the emergency amputation, leaving about six inches of tail. It was a shock and a disappointment, because the vet had indicated it wouldn't be so severe, but we held out hope it would be the last one needed. The first two weeks were critical as we kept the bandage on but remained nervous about how the tail was doing beneath, since a too-tight bandage was apparently part of the reason why the (first) emergency amputation didn't heal well. The other problem, in retrospect, was that we assumed his "happy tail" was padded well enough within the dressing and plastic syringe.

 

After two weeks, the vet recommended removing the bandage full-time so that the area could "dry out" better. It still wasn't healing all that quickly, with almost two inches of exposed tissue that looked basically like a chicken neck. It also continued to be very swollen despite the course of antibiotics. By this time, we were working with a different vet (the guy who did the second amputation was away in Africa for two weeks) and at her recommendation we bought a spray can of Granulex and gave him a decent blast every 24 hours, covering the tip plus the roughly two inches of exposed area above. He was on Traumadol for about 10 days this time around, since his pain threshold wasn't good the first time around. My step-mom, who is a wound care nurse, also helped out by supplying us with some Intrasite Gel from her med kit. THIS STUFF WORKED WONDERS. Not cheap, but highly recommended as it really helped quicken the recovery of new, pink skin and hastened the process of shedding away the unhealthy tissue.

 

And sure enough, although it's been an extremely long process, we're finally on the home stretch. There were a few bumps in the road and setbacks, usually when Brooks would manage to get his mouth onto the tail for an extended period of time. (He cannot be trusted not to lick the stump, so the e-collar has been a constant presence, but on at least two occasions he was able to work himself free and lick the scab off completely, leading to some prolonged oozing/bleeding and some bright red spots on the carpet.)

 

Brooks is still wearing an e-collar at this point. For those keeping score, that is now 2+ MONTHS in the cone nearly 24-7. We tried several alternatives and modifications but none was protective enough. In the end, he got used to wearing the cone, especially after we reinforced it with duct tape to soften its edges -- and he rarely knocks into things anymore. The only scab left (hopefully the last one) is about the size of a dime, right at the tip, and the fur has grown back to all but a couple centimeters above the scab.

 

Best of all, his behavior is much better the past two weeks. He was having a really tough time late in November and peed in the house a few times -- right in front of us, twice -- while managing to get into lots of trouble when we had to leave him home alone. We've settled into a good routine and he started being more peaceful, and in the last two weeks his personality and the playfulness we had just started to see has erupted at some opportune moments. Really restored our faith in the healing power of hugs and TLC!

Drew and occasionally DW Melody, with Rosie (AMF Ready Made) and Marvin (Bella Riddick) in Louisville. Forever missing Brooks (KC Bastone) and Kali (Swish).

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