Several factors may increase a dog’s risk of a condition that causes its tail to become painful and limp, British researchers report.
The condition is called limber tail and mostly affects larger working breeds such as Labrador retrievers, the researchers said.
The research team compared 38 dogs with limber tail and 86 dogs without it. Working dogs were more likely than pets to be affected, as were dogs in northern areas, supporting a belief that the disorder may be related to exposure to cold.
Labrador retrievers with limber tail were more likely to have family members with the condition than unaffected dogs, which suggests a genetic risk.
Some of the dogs with limber tail had been swimming before developing symptoms, according to the study published recently in the journal Veterinary Record.
“We have been able to add evidence to a lot of Internet speculation about risk factors, and the new findings relating to geographical region and family links give us avenues to pursue in understanding and avoiding the condition,” said study leader Carys Pugh.
Pugh is a research fellow at the Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh, Scotland, who made his comments in a university news release.
If further research pinpoints genes associated with limber tail, it could help breeders identify dogs likely to be affected. Over time, this could help curb limber tail cases, the researchers said.
Ducks Unlimited has more about limber tail.