Darla, a 6 month old boxer mix presented with a sore at the tip of her tail. On physical examination, she was diagnosed with "happy tail." "Happy tail" occurs due to self-trauma. Often this trauma is due to the patient chewing at the tail or simply wagging their tail happily while waiting to get out of their kennel or wagging their tail hitting a wall or hard surfaces throughout the house.
Different options were discussed with the owner. There are a variety of bandaging techniques to help protect the tail and allow it to heal. A simple wrap can be used; however, sometimes the skin cannot “breath” and infection can occur. There are different containers or protective materials that can be used to cover the area and protect it from additional trauma. Many pets may receive bandage changes and still have chronic bleeding, infection or raw areas on their tail. The last option is to perform a tail amputation in order to shorten the tail so that they can still wag their tail happily without injuring themselves.
After a month and a half of treatment, Darla’s tail was still raw and bleeding, so a tail amputation was elected. During the surgical procedure, about 2/3 of her tail was removed. A good portion of her tail was kept so that her family could see her wag her tail in happiness. Even more importantly, the tail is short enough to prevent additional trauma.
Post-operative care is very similar to other surgical procedures. Darla was sent home with pain medications and an Elizabethan Collar (cone) to prevent her from getting at her healing skin on her tail.