Multiple factors contribute to limber tail in dogs

Limber tail typically affects larger working dog breeds, such as the Labrador retriever. It causes tail limpness and pain, and usually resolves on its own within a few days or weeks. What causes it? A new study offers clues. 

In the first large-scale investigation of limber tail, researchers from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom sought to gain insight into habits and lifestyle factors that might explain why some dogs are affected with limber tail and not others. They concluded that genetics, geography, and type of dog might play a role.

Their results were published in the Veterinary Record on June 27.

The researchers compared 38 cases of limber tail that were identified from owners' reports about their dogs' health with 86 dogs that had no tail symptoms.

Although the dogs in the study were pets, the researchers concluded that those affected by limber tail were likely to be working dogs.

Additionally, dogs with the condition were more likely to live in northern areas, lending support to anecdotal reports that limber tail is associated with exposure to the cold.

The researchers also concluded that Labradors that had suffered limber tail were more likely to be related to each other than unaffected dogs, which may indicate an underlying genetic risk.

Photo credit: © iStock/studioportosabbie

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