Jump to section

What is Holding His Tail Down?

Tails are a big way in which dogs communicate with humans. Because they can’t use words, dogs use their tails to tell us when they are happy, sad, scared, and even injured. When determining how your dog is feeling, pay attention to the height of his tail. If it is held high then the dog is excited and alert, while a tail tucked close to the body might show fear and anxiety. It is important to remember that all dogs have different tail height depending on their breed. If your dog has a very loose and flaccid tail, there may be a few reasons why. 

  • Overexertion
  • Exposure to cold weather or water
  • Prolonged confinement 
  • Muscle injury
  • Medical issues

All of these issues can be resolved over time, but it is best to visit your vet in order to diagnose exactly what is causing your dog’s limp tail.

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image

Why Holding His Tail Down Occurs in Dogs

There are many reasons that can cause a dog's tail to be limp, or held down.  Some causes may be related to:

Overexertion

If you take your dog for a long walk or jog after being inactive over an extended period of time, your dog may show signs of a muscle injury. The tail may be flaccid and loose without the ability to wag. These signss are often accompanied with swelling at the base of the tail, and can be quite painful.  

Exposure to Cold Weather or Water

If your dog is sensitive to temperatures, being exposed to cold weather or even cold water can trigger a limpness to the tail. Some dogs are much more likely to have this occur, such as Retrievers who seem particularly prone to showing signs. 

Prolonged Confinement

 

Keeping your dog in a crate that is too small for him over a long period of time may cause tail injuries This is due to the tail being in one position much too long and is similar to the way our limbs can fall asleep after being in one position for an extended amount of time. 

Muscle Injury

 In some cases, tail injuries can be caused by a sprain. A sprain is categorized as an injury to a joint and the area surrounding it. An acute inflammation may occur due to irritation of the muscle and the tail goes limp. After a few days, the tail may slowly recover to the point of being normal once again. 

Medical Issues

Conditions such as prostate trouble, anal gland inflammation and osteoarthritis may cause your pet to hold his tail down to counteract pain and discomfort. Any dog can be affected by a limp tail, although dogs with longer tails tend to be affected more often.  

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    What to do if your Dog is Holding His Tail Down

    If your dog has a limp tail , it is always advised to seek veterinary counsel any time a pet may seem injured or unwell. A few home treatments you can discuss with your veterinarian might be: 

    • Use of a warm pack at the base of the tail to ease any pain
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed by your veterinarian
    • Plenty of rest

    When in doubt it is always best to speak with a veterinarian about any concerns you may have while you monitor the recovery period. If your dog continues to show tail discomfort, your veterinary caregiver may decide x-ray imaging is required for further evaluation.

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    Prevention of Holding His Tail Down

    Considering that one of the more common reasons that dogs experience limp tail is overexertion, it is important to ease your dog into any exercise after a period of low activity. In doing so, you will ensure that your dog has a chance to get back into shape before pushing him too hard. 

    Always provide the right size crate for your dog and do not keep him crated for long periods of time without a break. This will give your dog the chance to stretch his limbs and tail. Finally, pay attention to your breed of dog and the condition that his tail is usually in. Some dogs are more susceptible to tail injuries than others, so if you notice anything concerning, be sure to speak with your veterinarian about it.

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    Cost of Holding His Tail Down

    Treatment cost will vary depending on the cause of your dog’s limp tail.  Once your veterinarian finds the cause of the problem, it may be as simple as medication that is needed, or there may be more therapy needed.  

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    *Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

    Written by hannah hollinger

    Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

    Published: 07/08/2017, edited: 04/15/2021

    Holding His Tail Down Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

    Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

    question-icon-cta

    Ask a Vet

    dog-name-icon

    dog-breed-icon

    Border Collie Dalmatian mix

    dog-age-icon

    8 months

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Tail Down And Lathargic

    I am not sure if I should go to the vet he is very tired for a few days now and keeping his tail down :( usually very high energy

    Sept. 28, 2020

    Owner

    answer-icon

    Dr. Michele K. DVM

    recommendation-ribbon

    0 Recommendations

    Thank you for your question. If he seems lethargic or tired, and isn't wagging his tail normally, I think that something is probably going on with him, and having him seen by your veterinarian would be a good idea. They will be able to examine him and see what might be going on, and get treatment for him if needed. I hope that all goes well for him!

    Oct. 5, 2020

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    dog-breed-icon

    Toy Poodle

    dog-age-icon

    Eight Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Discomfort

    My dog hasn’t ate or drank water in about two days. She keeps her tail tucked in most of the time and she walks slow. Her belly feels normal but when I touch a certain area on her sides she grunts and hardens her abdomen. She isn’t drooling or vomiting, and she has peed and pooped (greenish-yellowish). What could be wrong with her?

    Sept. 24, 2020

    Owner

    answer-icon

    Dr. Michele K. DVM

    recommendation-ribbon

    0 Recommendations

    Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is okay. It sounds like she may have a problem with her back or her abdomen. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment that might be needed.

    Oct. 24, 2020

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    dog-breed-icon

    Pit Bull

    dog-age-icon

    Two Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    1 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Pain

    She's got her tail down between her legs whimpering and she can't stay comfortable

    Aug. 2, 2020

    Owner

    answer-icon

    Dr. Michele K. DVM

    recommendation-ribbon

    1 Recommendations

    Thank you for your question, I'm sorry that your dog is not feeling good. It sounds like she has hurt herself somehow, and without being able to see her, it is hard for me to say what might be going on. If she is not able to get comfortable, and is crying, it would be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to examine her, see what might be going on, and see what medication she might need. I hope that she is okay.

    Aug. 2, 2020

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    dog-breed-icon

    Tibetan Terrier

    dog-age-icon

    Ten Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    1 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Tail To The Side

    my dog has been holding her tail to the side for about a week now. she is showing no pain or discomfort when we move it or poke around her back area. i dont know if this is related or not but the day it started she randomly yelped incredibly loudly and then acted normal. we took her to the vet twice to try and find some answers, but they had no answers for us. she is a very pain tolerant dog and does not express pain often, so im worried that she is in pain and is not showing it. basically she just woke up one day with her tail to side. she wags it, and is playing and barking as usual.

    July 26, 2020

    Owner

    answer-icon

    Dr. Sara O. DVM

    recommendation-ribbon

    1 Recommendations

    Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. This may be some nerve damage or inflammation in his back end. See if your vet will give you some pain medication or even steroids to see if the inflammation goes away and your dog improves.

    July 26, 2020

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    dog-breed-icon

    Chihuahua

    dog-age-icon

    9-10

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    4 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Limp Tail (Yelped When I Lifted It)

    What can I do to help her until Monday when vet opens

    July 25, 2020

    Owner

    answer-icon

    Dr. Michele K. DVM

    recommendation-ribbon

    4 Recommendations

    Thank you for your question. If she seems painful when you lift her tail, but is okay otherwise, it would be best not to touch her tail. If she's able to urinate and defecate okay, you may be able to wait until your veterinarian is open. If she seems painful when defecating or can't get comfortable, it would be best to have her seen at an ER. I hope that all goes well for her.

    July 25, 2020

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    Ceaser

    dog-breed-icon

    Maltese mix

    dog-age-icon

    5 Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Mild severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Mild severity

    Has Symptoms

    Tail Down, Crouching

    Rescue Ceaser, walks the past few days he smells something, looks around and appears to be scared and wants to get away. Tail down, crouching down and looking around, smelling.

    dog-name-icon

    Rylee

    dog-breed-icon

    Chow Min Poodle

    dog-age-icon

    3 Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Mild severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Mild severity

    Has Symptoms

    I took my dog into the groomers today, which she looks good. But, when I got her home she was holding her tail down. when I tried to raise it to look underneath she yelped and ran away from me. What could be wrong? She wags her tail normally but down. We have some Rymadil left over, should I give her some?

    dog-name-icon

    luna

    dog-breed-icon

    German Shepherd

    dog-age-icon

    11 Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Moderate severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Moderate severity

    Has Symptoms

    Tail Down,Hard To Get Up

    my dog is 11 years old. SHe has some difficulty getting up. she was sliding on the floor so we put a rug underneath her. now she has her tail down between her legs but she does wag it when we talk to her. she has difficulty lying down

    dog-name-icon

    Jack

    dog-breed-icon

    Poodle

    dog-age-icon

    3 Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Fair severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    1 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Fair severity

    Has Symptoms

    Diarrhea
    Vomiting
    Tail Down
    Warm And Dry Nose

    I woke up to my dog throwing up bile and he was panting really hard until I took him outside. I didn’t see him use the bathroom but I checked his butthole and there was some stuff leftover and I could tell it was liquidy and yellow. I brought him back inside and after a while he put his tail down. He’s laying down right now, I just hope this isn’t something too serious.

    dog-name-icon

    Samson

    dog-breed-icon

    Lab mix

    dog-age-icon

    18 Months

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Mild severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Mild severity

    Has Symptoms

    Uncomfortable
    Distressed
    Whiny, Vocal
    Tail Is Tucked

    My dog has been keeping his tail tucked (even when wagging, which he barely seems able to do). He is usually very excitable and wags his tail often. He has also been whining and seems distressed, though he's always fairly vocal. He has been very careful with it when laying down or sitting. We noticed it yesterday after a long walk in the cold (almost an hour in 4º F weather). He gets a walk like this at least twice a week and is a pretty active dog in general. However, we don't usually walk so long when it's that cold out. He was wearing a fleece lined jacket that covered most of his back, sides, chest, and neck, and also waterproof booties. We are planning to go to the vet in a couple of weeks to update his shots, but are unsure if maybe we should go in now. From what I've read, it seems like it could be limber tail. But I'm not totally sure and am starting to worry. He doesn't whine when his tail is examined and touched, but does lick our hands and tries to grab them.

    Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

    Save up to $273 per year

    Compare plans
    advertisement image
    Need pet insurance?