Water rod in dogs

If your water-loving furry friend likes to romp in waters even in cold temperatures, you should prick up your ears: The wet and cold bathing fun can lead to a water rod, a particularly painful inflammation of the tail. However, there are also other causes that can trigger this disease. Find out about the symptoms, triggers and treatment so that you can help your pet.

What is a water rod in dogs?

As the name suggests, this disease mainly causes pain at the base of the tail and the surrounding nerves. Although the cause of a water rod has not yet been clarified, it is assumed that it can be triggered, for example, by excessive stress or swimming in cold water. If the muscles on your pet's back or tail are strained too much in combination with cold, muscle inflammation can result. The particularly nasty thing about this disease is that it causes small muscle fiber tears that cause a lot of pain in dogs.

In order to better understand the pain that our brave darlings have to go through with a water rod, this disease is often compared to lumbago in humans. In English, the water tail is also known as a cold water tail or dead tail.

Water rod in dogs: these are possible symptoms

A water rod usually only shows up after a few hours on our four-legged friends. If you observe these symptoms in your dog, it could be a water rod:

  • Restrained tail posture: Typical for this disease is a limp hanging tail and a covered tail posture. Even with a tempting treat, your darling can't express his joy with a wag. Because the tail is held horizontally for a few centimeters, but then suddenly bends, the water rod is also known as lamb's or mutton's tail.
  • Puppy seat: To relieve the base of the tail, many affected dogs take the puppy seat. Your pet tilts his pelvis slightly to the side so that he has less pain.
  • Insecurity: You know your furry treasure best and notice when it behaves differently. The symptoms of a water rod also include insecure behavior.
  • Problems with business: For some four-legged friends, the water rod is so painful that they are temporarily unable to pass urine or feces.
  • Swelling at the base of the tail: Swelling of the tail can often be felt – but this can cause a lot of pain in your furry friend, even with light pressure.

Treatment: What to do with a water rod?

Do you suspect a water rod with your darling? Then professional treatment with your veterinarian is unavoidable. In the veterinarian's office, a detailed examination can be carried out:

  1. As a rule, a fracture in the tail area, a herniated disc, blocked anal glands or osteoarthritis in the spine is initially ruled out.
  2. A blood count can also be useful in order to become aware of a significant increase in the muscle enzyme value creatine kinase. The enzyme provides chemical energy for muscle building. If the muscles are damaged, the enzyme creatine kinase passes into the blood – dogs with a water rod therefore have an increased creatine kinase level in their blood.
  3. After the clear diagnosis, your pet will first receive pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory painkillers.
  4. Additionally, physical therapy can help your dog make a full recovery.

If the water rod is treated immediately, the symptoms usually subside after a few days and your furry nose is back to its old self! In order for you to be able to cope with unpredictable veterinary treatments like this carefree, we recommend that you take out dog health insurance.

Water rod in dogs: these home remedies can help

With the necessary medical care and plenty of rest, you can best support your pet during this painful time. Walks should only be short, but can take place several times a day. It is important to keep your dog dry and warm, and a dog rain coat may be a good idea. If you would like to support your furry friend with any home remedies, you should only use these in consultation with your vet.

If your veterinarian agrees, you can use as a home remedy, e.g.

  • Hot water bottles,
  • Heat pad or
  • use a red light lamp

to keep the back and base of the tail warm, as warmth can promote the healing process.

Important: However, people and animals have different senses of heat - so make sure that the heat source is not too hot and that your four-legged friend can get away from it if they want to. The heat should be applied for a maximum of 20 minutes (only moderate heat, not too hot!). Depending on what the dog tolerates better, cooling for 10 minutes with a cooling pad from the fridge can also help. Please note that either a cooling or warming treatment should be used, consult your vet beforehand.

Water rod without swimming: possible causes

A cold day of swimming is not always behind a water rod - since the exact cause is not exactly clear, heavy stress during dog training or hunting can also be the trigger of this painful disease. It is also believed that longer car journeys or situations in which your pet has limited range of motion will result in a water rod.

It is reasonable to assume that reduced blood flow may be a probable cause. This can be done in the case of

  • inflammation between the caudal vertebral joints,
  • ecompression of the caudal vertebrae joints,
  • a temporary circulatory disorder on the tail,
  • muscle damage to the tail muscles, or
  • occur during swimming, exertion or cold in combination with existing problems in the lumbar spine.

Preventing a water rod: 4 tips

Watching your little furry treasure suffer with a water rod is a heartbreaking sight. To prevent this from happening in the first place, there are a few things you can do as an owner. These are our 4 tips to prevent a water rod in dogs:

  1. On long journeys in a carrier or a confined space, plan enough breaks so that your four-legged friend can stretch and move sufficiently.
  2. Even if you have a water-crazy breed, such as a Golden Retriever, try to discourage bathing in the fall and winter.
  3. Excessive training and overexertion in a cold, wet environment should be stopped in good time - even in summer. If strenuous training is imminent, the dog should definitely be warmed up beforehand! This is important to promote blood circulation, protect the muscles and prevent injury. A cool down should be carried out afterwards.
  4. If you can't stop your dog from jumping into the cold, keep him warm and dry with a towel or dog coat after the bath. Dogs should not swim for too long and breaks should be taken every now and then. Especially if the water has strong currents (river). Swimming should also be practised. After drying off, your dog should move around a bit to warm up again.

Conclusion: If you have an active companion at your side who knows no boundaries when romping around in the water, you should take a close look at your furry friend after such play sessions. If you recognize the symptoms well and make an appointment with your veterinarian immediately, your darling will soon be wagging his tail full of joy again. Has your four-legged friend ever been diagnosed with a water rod? Feel free to tell us how you nursed your furry friend back to health!

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