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A partial caudectomy in dogs is the amputation of part of the tail for medical reasons. Reasons that may result in the requirement to remove part of your dog’s tail include trauma resulting in damage to blood vessels, tailbone, or soft tissues that can not be repaired, congenital defects of the tail such as corkscrew tail, or tumors present in the tail. If possible, partial caudectomy is performed with only a portion of the tail being removed. If disease or trauma necessitates it, amputation of the entire tail may be necessary. The advantage of partial caudectomy is that the procedure is less invasive and some portion of the tail remains, allowing the dog to wag their tail to express emotion. Disadvantages may include remaining tissue becoming infected or cancerous or susceptible to injury. This procedure should be performed by a veterinarian in conjunction with sedation and local anesthetic, epidural local anesthetic, or intravenous general anesthetic. The form of anesthetic used will depend on the age of your dog, the extent of repair and partial caudectomy required, and other factors such as disease or medical conditions present in your dog.
The type of anaesthetic required for this procedure varies depending on the degree of repair and caudectomy required, the age of the animal, and medical conditions present dictating the type of anesthetic required. Anesthetic may include sedation and liberal use of local anesthetic at the surgical site, epidural anesthetic or general anaesthetic, usually intravenously administered as the procedure is not of long duration. If general anesthetic is required you will need to fast your dog prior to surgery. After appropriate anesthetic is administered, the tail area is shaved and cleaned and a tourniquet applied to the tail. An incision is made around the skin and subcutaneous tissue in a “U” or “V” shape, distal to the amputation site. Muscles are dissected. Blood vessels are cauterized or ligated. The tail is then amputated either by disarticulation of the joint space or through the vertebra with bone cutting forceps. Muscle and subcutaneous tissue are then sutured back together. Usually skin on the dorsal side is left longer than on the ventral side to create a flap to close over the end of the remaining tail.
If tumors are present, the tumor is removed along with the tail and healthy margins of tissue. Tumor tissue will be sent for examination by a veterinary pathologist to identify cells present and ensure healthy margins were removed with the tumor to prevent spread of abnormal growth.
Partial caudectomy for dogs with congenital defects of the tail such as ingrown tails can be a more complicated procedure than for other conditions and is associated with a higher incidence of complications. However the benefit of the procedure to prevent the development of infections exceeds the risk of complications. Partial caudectomy is also efficient for removal of neoplasia and to address traumas that can not be repaired in the tail. Dogs adapt quickly to partial caudectomy of the tail and do not show signs of distress associated with the loss of a part of their tail, especially if disease present prior to removal caused discomfort.
Post surgery, a bandage may be applied to the tail to protect it. It may be difficult to maintain a bandage on this part of the body and this will require maintenance to keep it in place. Your dog may also require an e-collar to prevent them from biting or chewing at the wound. Pain medication and antibiotics will be prescribed and should be administered as directed. Removal of non-absorbable sutures will be performed one to two weeks post-surgery by your veterinarian. The wound should be monitored for signs of infection or dehiscence, which should be addressed with your veterinarian if they occur.
The cost of partial caudectomy depends on the invasiveness of the procedure required. For congenital defect, the procedure may be more complicated and incur more expense. Also, the method of anesthesia utilized will affect the price of the procedure. Partial caudectomy ranges in cost from $100 to $500 and is also affected by the cost of living in your area.
Complications such as fecal incontinence, nerve pain, and infection have been reported with partial caudectomy, but theses are rare and the benefits of the procedure usually outweigh the risks of complications. Partial caudectomy is performed to address medical conditions not cosmetic conditions.
Preventing injury to the tail in your dog can prevent the requirement for partial amputation of the tail. Be careful in your home, especially with closing doors, to ensure your dog's tail does not get caught. When outside, dogs should be contained or on a leash at all times to prevent motor vehicle accidents or incidents with other animals that would result in tail injuries. If your dog develops infection or dermatitis or is biting or chewing at their tail aggressively, seek veterinary advice to address before the condition compromises tail tissues, resulting in an irreversible condition.
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1 found helpful
When doing a partial Caudectomy is it better to remove the tail from the joint just above the "kink" (vertebrae fusion ) or go just a little further and cut the last good vertebrae in half? I have a Golden Retriever with a fused bone and my vet feels as if there are less nerve endings involved if the bone is cut in half when we do the surgery - that healing will be easier and less painful. Yes? No?
Feb. 23, 2018
Dr. Michele K. DVM
Thank you for your email. There is so much information that I don't know with this situation, it would be irresponsible for me to offer ann opinion over an email. The surgery necessary completely depends on the dog, the situation, nerve function, and the reason for the surgery. If you are not sure of the opinion of your veterinarian, it would be best to have a second opinion with someone that can examine Kudos. I will say when amputating a tail, there are nerves that control bladder and bowel function, and the higher up one takes off the tail, the more risk there is to those nerves... I'm sorry that I can't offer more insight - that is a question for your veterinarian. I hope that all goes well for Kudos!
Feb. 23, 2018
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We have a six and a half year old English Bull Mastiff, Bella, and last year she started to develop a growth about midway on her tail. At first it was the size of a garden pea, now it is the size of a walnut. It keeps oozing and when she knocks it it bleeds, a lot. Our usual vets have hummed and ha'ad about her tail, but because it is bothering her, and causing her some degree of discomfort, we decided to seek a second opinion from another vet. They looked at it and they were in total agreement with my husband and myself, that Bella would benefit from a partial Caudectomy. This is booked to take place on 9th October 2019. The tail will be removed one joint above the growth, so she will be left with around a third of her tail. Our usual vets quoted around £600, but the practice that is going to carry out the procedure, it is costing £200. We questioned the difference in price, and were told that some vets charge what they like, knowing that owners will pay it because they love their pets! We are worried and apprehensive, but will do what ever is needed to make sure Bella lives a pain free and as happy a life as possible. All we can do until her surgery is keep the tail as clean as possible, and Bella as comfortable as we can
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