“Happy Tail” sounds like a good thing. It really isn't. Happy tail is the term for the injury that occurs when some dogs wag their tails so hard against the walls (or furniture) that the skin opens up and leaves, well, a blood spatter pattern reminiscent of a particularly gruesome episode of CSI.
While this can happen with any waggedy dog, the long and sleek tails of many Sighthounds are at particular risk. Many of us in the SHUG community have dealt with the unhappy reality of Happy Tail and here are some of our tips and tricks for dealing with the aftermath.
Michael, SHUG Director and hopeless Crazy Dog Lady -- I recommend using an empty toilet paper tube over the end of the tail (extending at least an inch past the end) secured with duct tape. That works to both keep air flowing around the injury and protecting it from impacts and teeth.
Kristie – When one of our dogs gets “happy tail,” I goop it up with Manuka honey. Then I put gauze over it but leave a space between the tip of the tail and the gauze so it’s covering it but not touching. Then I use duct tape over the whole thing and up the tail to keep it in place. We usually change it every other day. Once it looks healed we stop the honey but still cover for a few days more.
Michelle -- This is so hard to treat. I have covered with gauze and then used ½” waterproof white tape to secure. Then I use vet wrap. You have to put the vet wrap fairly far up on the tail so that it stays on. Change every day and apply an antibiotic cream. I generally muzzle my dogs if they lick it.
Dione -- Liquid bandage helped with my Sonic's happy tail. It's the only thing that worked since the vet wrap wouldn't stay on when she wagged.
Kelly -- Happy tail is such a pain, I’ve had luck with paper towel tube, plastic tubing and that foam tubing used for pipe insulation (even used a pool noodle on a fat-tailed lab once).
Susan – Try one of those old fashioned pink foam curlers. They have holes in the center and you can slide one side and then tape it around the bandaged portion of the tail. The toilet paper roll works, too, but not as well as the curler. And don't be afraid of duct tape. You can always cut it off the fur, even though you'll take a little of the hair.
In extreme cases, if you and your vet just can't get your pup's Happy Tail to heal then your worst case scenario is to amputate the tip of the tail. It may break your heart to shorten your hound's wag, but they'll still be just as happy--hopefully without the bloodshed.