Wrapping Happy Tail

What is Happy Tail?

Happy Tail is an injury to the tail usually caused by wagging the tail up against something sharp or rough. The tail may bleed, split open and sometimes the bone in the tail actually breaks. The greyhound community calls this common injury "Happy Tail" because it tends to happen to the happiest dogs that wag the most. It is very common in greyhounds and other breeds without much hair to pad their tails.  

Tail injuries bleed a lot and each wag can throw droplets of blood from floor to ceiling. The force of each wag, on a tail this long, throws off scabs and sends blood and most bandages flying. The tail is like a paint brush, painting blood on walls, clothing, other dogs and everything it touches. You can't imagine the amount of blood and the mess this can cause, until you actually experience it. It is very common for tails to have to be amputated after this type of injury, because the dog continues to wag the injured tail whenever it is happy. This injury causes the dog pain with each wag. It is likely to get infected if the wound continues to stay open and is bumping up against everything.

How do I protect a tail from further injury and get it to heal?

This video shows how to wrap an injured tail to prevent the dog from re-injuring it, while it heals. The late John Galui, greyhound trainer, shared this method with us. It works better than all the other methods we have tried. The tape used in the video is Elasticon. It is important to wrap the tail loosely or you can cut off circulation! This is not a substitute for vet care and should only be used until you can get your dog to the vet and to prevent re-injury after your vet examines the tail.


 Kim Owens and Miles Per Hour demonstrating tail wrapping at Beach Bound Hounds in Myrtle Beach SC
        This video is a demonstration only. This dog does not have an injured tail.
 What to do if a tail injury doesn't heal?
If the tail doesn't heal up using this method, breaks open frequently, or develops infection, our vets recommend tail amputation. Years ago, we would try to save as much of the tail as possible, even with serious tail injuries, and would only take off the last few inches of the tail. Then we had a new problem: a long, shaved tail, with stitches in it, and no hair to protect it, that still wagged up against everything. It would always open back up and cause the dog pain. After having repeat tail surgeries on the same dog 3 or 4 times, we changed the way we did things. Now we take nearly all the tail off, leaving only a 3 to 6 inch tail that can't possibly hit anything. The 3 inch tail is not noticeable and most people won't even notice that there is no tail. It heals up best because there is less tail to wag. The 6 inch tail can still wag, is more noticeable but still heals well. It is a personal preference, and up to the owner. It won't matter to the dog if they have a 3 or 6 inch tail. Bob-tailed greyhounds are common in the greyhound community and most greyhounds owners know that you have an exceptionally friendly waggy greyhound, when they see one. 
This is a slow motion video of the same dog, Miles Per Hour, that shows the force of his wags. Notice, each wag gets him off balance and he has to move his feet and tense his muscles to stay standing. You can see the force that the tail would hit against things and how it actually hits the dog itself. Miles has a more furry, thick coat than most greyhounds. That extra hair padded his tail and prevented injury. Most greyhounds, and many other breeds, have very thin coats on their tails that don't provide enough padding to protect them.