Tuesday, April 21, 2009


As volunteers, some of us are frequent visitors to Prescott Animal Control, and of late, it seems there's been a whole lot of cases of one thing: Happy Tail Syndrome. Contrary to the connotation of the term, Happy Tail is actually very dangerous. Dogs end up with this ailment by wagging their tails so much that the concrete walls of the kennels split open the tips of their tails - causing infection in some cases and a bloody mess in most. Some dogs come into PAC with Happy Tail, and others develop it after a short while. The danger, of course, is that it can make the dog go from being very adoptable to very unadoptable - through no fault of its own. When blood is sprayed all over the surrounding walls of the kennel, it requires near constant rinsing - and more unfortunately, the dog often continues to wag his or her tail after it's been split open - so that anyone who walks that dog, takes him or her out to play or in some cases, simply walks by said kennel, ends up looking like they've been in a gunfight! So, what can be done about this unfortunate and harrowing trend? AC officers and volunteers often bandage up the tails of these dogs, but of course, unless they're monitored constantly, the dogs may very well decide to chew off the bandage or just keep on whipping that tail around until the bandage falls off. Opal - the gorgeous blue-tick featured in the accompanying photos - had a minor case of Happy Tail when we met her; luckily, she is now safely in foster. But that said, we can't rescue them from the pound unless we know they won't be kenneled either - which rules out taking them to some of our cooperating boarding facilities. So, it's a tough call. We're hoping we can count on our readers to offer up some suggestions of how to avoid Happy Tail and what do to once a Pound / Shelter dog has come down with it.


  1. You got my curiosity up so I Googled "Happy Tail Syndrome". I guess Greyhounds are notorious for having HTS. This webpage (http://www.grassmere-animal-hospital.com/happy_tail_bandaging.htm) shows how they bandage the long, skinny happy tails of Greyhounds. However, Greyhounds are not your "typical" dog and are less likely to chew a bandage off. In this forum (http://forum.greytalk.com/lofiversion/index.php/t187427.html) they discuss using pink foam rollers (cut like a hot dog bun) to pad the tail before wrapping but again, it's a Greyhound forum and they probably have had success with this but would it work on a Lab?

    Most of the other non-Greyhound websites discussed amputation as the only viable "cure" for HTS. Even some of the Greyhound sites recommended this approach. It sure seems a little drastic to me.

  2. Good News for Opal!!! her foster couldn't part with her and is adopting her!!
    Thanks Amy for giving her a great home!


  3. I have a black Lab with HTS too!! I put a couple of regular band aids and it works just fine!