Simba and His tail

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Simba and His tail

This is a discussion on Simba and His tail within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I just need ideas/hugs I am at my wits end with my Foster Dog's tail. I am attaching a copy of an email I just ...

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Old 11-03-2016, 09:07 AM
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Simba and His tail

I just need ideas/hugs I am at my wits end with my Foster Dog's tail. I am attaching a copy of an email I just sent to the rescue. I couldn't bear to give up on this dog, he could make someone an amazing pet, but I am not helping his tail get better. He does this whole body shake that re-injures it constantly. I am so upset and stressed out about this. I have spent countless hours trying to help him

Hi, I am writing to update you about Simba.
I couldn't be happier with his progress. He is really coming out of his shell and learning a lot. However his health is a different story.
I contacted you almost a month ago about his "happy tail" it is still an issue. I have been dressing it every day, but I have yet to find a dressing I can keep on, the rest of his tail is getting damaged due to the continued binding/taping. I confess I have been doing my best, but I am at my wits end. I am scared it will get infected, I am tired of cleaning blood up and I need help. I am excellent with dog behavior, but terrible at medical care. I even have my husband tend my kids booboos as I hate wounds. Unfortunately I have to be the one to tend Simba as he wriggles like a maniac when Paul tries. I think it has got to the stage where it needs professional treatment. I have attached pictures of the injuries and of our blood spattered walls and my daughters blood covered coat (after three washes). Please find a way to help. We really want to foster him until he finds a home. I am so encouraged by the progress he has been making and it would break our hearts to see him back in a crate at the shelter or sick because of an infection, but I am not capable of taking care of his tail. It may even need amputating.
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Old 11-03-2016, 12:58 PM
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So what's causing the injury? Is he banging it? Chewing it?
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Old 11-04-2016, 08:49 AM
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He does a vigorous whole body shake that removes the dressing and then runs and jumps around and stands next to walls to wag his tail and knocks the scab off. If I put too much tape or vet wrap next to his skin, it reacts and loses fur and the skin goes red. I have been rotating the tape area to let it recover and putting organic cotton cheesecloth between his skin and the vetwrap.

He is a hyperactive 11 month old pointer/pit mix. It is impossible to keep him still.

I have trained him to stand still while dressing and not chew it, he stopped doing that about a week ago. I have also stopped crating him, as he is really good in the house and he used to shake it against his crate. I will resume crate training when/if the tail recovers.

I have managed to train him out of everything that was damaging it except this body shake. I have read that dogs do it due to anxiety or if they have itchy skin. My own dog has never done it, she just does a normal doggy shake if she is wet.
He does have skin issues, they are getting better as we switched his food, I am rubbing coconut oil on it and giving him fish oil. The problem is I see no cue or warning for the body shake, so I can't distract him before he does it. It is pretty much any time he is standing and taking a break between activities. I have been training him to lie down as a default in the home, but he will still do it while we are on walk or while he is playing.

If he would just stop shaking, the dressing would stay on and it would heal!
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Old 11-04-2016, 08:52 AM
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Update: The rescue is going to set him up a vet appointment! Such a relief! I will be sad if it gets amputated but it may be for the best.
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Old 11-04-2016, 10:25 AM
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I prefer to leave a dog whole unless it's medically necessary. Maybe docking would be the best for the pup, a tail doesn't make the dog.
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Old 11-04-2016, 05:03 PM
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I just got a text message with advice from the vet, I guess they called and the vet said to bind it with something light and tape at base of tail. I have been doing that for almost 3 weeks several times a day and the bandage still won't stay on.

I have watched numerous youtube videos and tried pipe insulators, finger splints, neoprene as well as several types of gauze and medical tape. Some bandages will stay on for a few shakes, but the longest we can go is a couple of hours (unless he is sleeping)
I just wish he wouldn't shake so hard, he loses the bandage and damages it every time he does.

My husband is going to return him tomorrow and tell them we can foster him again when his tail is healthy. If I can't get it to heal in 3 weeks I need to give up and let someone else try. I am so sad at the thought of him going back in a cage at the shelter. I even bought him an adorable adopt me vest which is arriving tomorrow and he won't get to wear.
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Old 11-04-2016, 11:15 PM
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In my experience, with multiple tail bandages for loads of patients including one of my own dogs, the only thing that keeps tail wraps on is elastacon. It's a specialty bandaging tape and you may only be able to find it at your vet. It's a major pain in the patootie to remove thou, especially on those fine boned tails with thin skin, but it's the best thing for tail wraps when used appropriately. If you have limited experience bandaging wounds, then it would be best to leave it for the vet to wrap. As you've seen it can be difficult to keep tail wraps on, even experienced vets have trouble with them, it's a fine balance between keeping it light enough to to not be weighed down, thick enough to actually provide proper protection, tight enough to stay in place, but not so tight as to cut off circulation and cause additional trauma. Honestly amputation is often the best or inevitable treatment.

Personally I've only seen one case where the tail could be saved, in all of the other cases I've seen where an owner wanted to save the tail or keep a significant amount of length the dog ended up reinjuring the tail and eventually needing it fully docked. And the one case where the tail could be saved was for my own dog, I had to change the bandage daily to keep it clean, used warm packs to encourage circulation to the site, had to customize a new syringe case to cover and protect the bandage everytime she cracked it from smashing against the wall, and I slept right next to her crate every night for 2 weeks to make sure she didn't get at it during the night. It's also important to note that she injured her tail in a freak accident by getting it caught in her crate some how and splitting the tip right open, so she didn't suffer from happy tail, though it's not uncommon for her breed to injure their fine boned tails by smashing them against the wall.
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Old 11-06-2016, 03:23 PM
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I agree with you entirely, it was pretty much impossible to build him an ideal bandage that would stay on AND promote healing. He is just too young and active to stay still and let it heal. I can't see any other solution for him other than docking. Of course I am not a vet.

He went back to the shelter yesterday. I really hope they take him to the vet. I will be happy to foster him again when his tail has been taken care of properly.

For me the hardest thing about fostering was not being in charge of the dogs medical care. When my own dog is sick, I take her to the vet and follow the instructions and she gets better, for a foster dog, that decision is out of my hands. I did everything I could for him, and it wasn't enough, it is heart breaking to think of him in that cage, it would have been much easier letting him go to a good home.
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Old 11-08-2016, 01:53 AM
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You mentioned pipe insulation but glossed over it too briefly.. not sure why that did not work (usually does for me). It's super light, excellent padding, and easy to place and tape on below the wound and, if you tape well (such as with Elasticon), you can usually keep it on the tail for many weeks at a time, allowing time for the wound to heal... but I have to admit I have had dogs that simply chew it off, after tearing off their Elizabethan collars, and for those dogs, amputation can be the only solution (something most dogs seem to adjust to very quickly and nicely).
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