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Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  Small animal medicine and surgery - 16 years experience in BC, California and Ontario
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Why does my dog's butt hurt and make her shake?

Customer Question

My dog's butt is hurting. She is eating and drinking normal, but she doesn't want to play or run. She's shaking and does not let me touch her tail. This morning I took her to the vet because she was not urinating. When the vet checked her, the bladder wasn't full, so they told me to wait 12 hours. When we got home she did urinate and have BM. However, she is still hurting, this is under her tail.

Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

Hi there,

Welcome to Just Answer! I"m sorry to hear that your dog is in pain and having this problem, and that your visit to your vet this morning did not resolve it. I would like to try to help you but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.

What is the age and breed of your dog?

Is she "scooting" her anal area across the carpet?

Is she holding her tail up, or holding it down?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

She is a 2 year old mixed lab that weighs 60lbs. She is not scooting across the carpet, and is holding her tail down and not let me touch it at all.

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.
Oh, poor girl!

Did she go swimming of have a bath in the last few days?

Is she trying to lick at her anal area at all?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

She had a bath yesterday around 2 p.m., and she was fine before that. There are times that she will lick her anal area.

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.


What you are describing in your Lab sounds like a textbook description of a condition called "cold tail." This condition is also called Limber tail, dead tail, limp tail, swimmer’s tail and various other names.We tend to see it in hunting dogs like Labs and Beagles, often after swimming in cold water, or after having a bath especially if the water was cold.

The good news is that it usually resolves on its own, and can start to improve in 3 to 5 days.Often, it takes 2 weeks to completely resolve.

Here is more about it:

In terms of what you can do at home, you may be able to give some aspirin (as long as she has no history of kidney problems, stomach problems and is not on other medications).

Please use Buffered Aspirin if you have it, and give it with a piece of bread or something low-fat to eat, not on an empty stomach. Avoid the enteric coated aspirin as it often goes through dogs undigested.Also, if your dogs start vomiting or have diarrhea, then discontinue the aspirin.Use it for 3 days AT MOST!

Here are links that tell you about it, with precautions and dose (5 to 10 mg/ lb, twice daily):

If your Lab is not 100% in 2 weeks, or seem to be getting worse, and are not improved at all with the aspirin, then do go back to see your vet to make sure there is not some other process going on.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

You're being very helpful, but I have one last question. "Cold tail" causes pain and shaking around anal area? I see that she's tense and her nerves shake a bit.

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

I'm happy to help! :-)

Yes, cold tail causes pain and shaking around the anal area - it is the base of the tail where it attaches to the body that is painful, so dogs hold the tail clamped to their body.

The other thing I had wondered about was an anal gland impaction, but the history of having a bath and this starting after that is just so suggestive of cold tail.

I can tell you a bit more about anal sac issues. Not all dogs "scoot" their anal area when this happens.

The anal sacs (or anal glands) are little glands located at the 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock position if you are standing behind your dog. They are normally about the size of a chickpea. They have a little tube leading from the anal sac to the anal opening, and what Mother Nature intended was that every time your dog defecates, a few drops of the fluid contained in these sacs gets deposited on the feces.

Sometimes, however, the little tube gets blocked and the anal sac cannot empty. Anal sac fluid is continuously produced by the body so the sac gets more and more full. Eventually it can rupture out through the skin.

With anal sac issues, the dog does not usually hold the tail clamped down, and people usually notice some swelling BESIDE the anus.

Here are some links to further information:

So, although anal sac problems are still possible, I do think this sounds more like cold tail. The only way to really know would be to do a physical exam of course. But these would be the things that I would be considering!

I do hope that helps you to help your dog!

Dr.Fiona and other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thanks Dr. Fiona
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

You are very welcome! :-)

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