Monday, April 20

Ask Frog Princess: Tail amputation?

Here's our new foster, Crockett, with a new friend!

We got a question about corkscrew tails from a reader:
I have a question about the wonderful corkscrew tails. I have had Frenchies and Bostons for years and never ran into a tail problem before now. Is there justification to amputate a tail? My little girls tail turns in on her butt and barely lifts up when she potties. I have been wiping her clean daily but it really seems to bother her. I have a trusted vet tell me to think about amputating her tail.

New adoptee Dylan flanked by English bulldog brothers Ford and Diesel.

He wouldn't suggest this if he didn't feel it would help her. I just don't want to put her through the pain unless it is absolutely the right thing to do. Have you guys had to amputate tails and how much pain will she be in after the surgery? I had one vet tell me it is very painful for the dog to have their tail taken off. I just want her to be comfortable and happy. Thanks, Jen and Sophie

And when we put it to our friends in FBRN, here were some responses:
1. "Yes, you gotta wipe them all the time. You should also use a Qtip with something like Malaseb to clean the tail fold. It may be REALLY tight but you need to do it all the way around the spiral. Then for good measure you need to go in and "pick their tail" once a week. We do this wile watching TV at night. You go into the tail fold, spiral part and pull out any loose hair.

My breeder told me all these things when I got Pierre and then at his well puppy exam the vet added in that if these things aren't kept up on they can get an infection requiring the tail to be amputated.

That scared me to pieces and my kids always get comments from every doc they see about how well their tail & tail pocket has been maintained."

Big frog, little frog! Maxine with FBRN foster Deo.

2. Here's a response from a vet:
"As a veterinarian, I can give my medical opinion. Tails can be amputated and dogs seem to do very well. I have had to amputate many tails due to trauma. The only concern is that it would need to be amputated at the base of the spine. There is a potential to affect nerves to the bladder and colon if the veterinarian is not careful. Are you using alcohol free wipes? If not, that is probably what the dog doesn't like, alcohol on the tender tissue around the anus. If the actual tail is bothering her (without wiping it) then consider amputation. And if she retains urine and feces, then scald can occur resulting in skin lesions."

2007 Grad Della, now Olive, in her birthday tiara!

3. From an FBRN volunteer who has an amputee:

"My big Frenchie, Rico had to have his tail amputated. He had the exact same problem. I talked to 3 vets and they all agreed that it was a necessary surgery for Rico's future well being and overall comfort. One vet (a good friend of mine as well) made me "put myself in Rico's paws" and I immediately made the appointment!
Rico is definitely a happier (and healthier) dog due to the surgery. As far as the surgery itself, he was given a pain injection (Metacam) just before the surgery, and he came home with pain meds for 10 day after the surgery. He fared VERY well! It never bothered him and he never showed any signs of pain...and he would...he is a bit of a wimp."

Another photo of new foster, Crockett, looking pitiful.

4. From a vet tech:

"I work for a vet and we've had to amputate some of these screw tails for reasons like this. Sometimes the dogs get bad skin infections and sores from the tail being so close. I wouldn't call it an extremely painful surgery. Of course I would talk to the vet and make sure good pain control is in place and I would keep my dog on some painkillers after the surgery. But we amputate tails for a number of reasons and the animals do quite well after the surgery. The recovery does not seem to be that hard on them."

5. And a response from someone in the human medical field, with photos of her Frenchie, Yoda:

"We have two Frenchies with a multitude of medical issues. Yoda, our male, was purchased through a breeder as a show dog. We did indeed show him, but never finished him because he began to limp. This dog has hemivertebrae, megaesophagus (resolved as he grew older), soft palate resection, horrible food and outdoor allergies (dust, grass, trees), and the tail.
Yoda's bottom and backside, post-amputation.

His tail started becoming infected in his second year. It was wound in a way that it would rub against the body skin and get horribly infected, even though we are medical people and were always very vigilant. The infections caused so much pain that he literally could not sit still and would hop and run and whine trying to find relief. He had his last infection right at Thanksgiving 2004. The Monday after, we had it amputated.

Handsome Yoda!

We were, of course, concerned about anesthesia, which
is such a big concern with these guys. Luckily, we used the same vet [FBRN President Ruth Chiger] goes to, so they were well experienced with Frenchies. The procedure was done Monday. We visited him that afternoon and took him home the next day. He came home on pain meds and antibiotics. I would say he was quiet for 2 days, after that, it was like nothing had happened. I am enclosing a picture for you to see what it looks like after (the pink spots are from allergies and unrelated). It really looks much worse that it was. It took several months for the hair to grow back, but now hardly anyone notices that he doesn't have a tail. The procedure cost about $500. We were very pleased with the results and only sorry we didn't do it sooner. I hope this helps."

6. From another volunteer:

"Our English Bulldog had his tail amputated. It was rough for him - he cried on the way home and he was such a noble dog. BUT his tail took a turn and was growing into his tushy. As our vet put it, when we wiped his butt under the tail, he compared it to wiping a raw sore with a corn cob. Ouch! So we had no option but to amputate. It was so much better in the long run. He was about 8 when he had the surgery. Poor guy."

Jen and Sophie, we hope that these answers have given you some things to think about. Please do keep us informed and if Sophie has surgery, let us know how she is doing. Of course, these answers should not be regarded as veterinary advice, but only as friendly discussions of personal experience. Consult your own vet and get a second opinion before making any decisions, and keep in mind that all surgeries carry risk--and anesthetizing any Frenchie is especially risky. Please seek out a vet skilled in brachycephalic breeds, with experience in the surgery you are requesting and in anesthetizing brachy dogs.

Thank you to all our friends and volunteers for helping to answer Jen's question!

The Frog Princess


Anonymous said...

Can't thank you for important blog entry...Too many cute...VERY cute pictures...of Frenchies and friends...Oh no must nap now!

Collapsing from Cuteness,
A Loyal Reader

Anonymous said...

Hey guys Jen & Sophie here!
Thanks to all of you at FBRN for your information. I really liked all of the different feedback. Thanks for giving us many views to read. I have taken Sophie to the vet two times since submitting this question and we have some progress. First we went and we got some medicated powder to use along with cleaning her booty after she poops. We went back today and the vet told us it looks a lot better. We will try this for awhile and see how she does. If this doesn't work we will consider the amputation. I know she will be ok with the surgery because the surgeon we use has frenchies. Again thanks for everyones info!

Boston Terrier Mommy said...

Our 3 year old boston terrier has a fistula created by a corkscrew tail. The tail corkscrewed inside of her, causing a fistula from her tail pouch to a little spot in the perianal region. She is scheduled for surgery on Thursday. I am glad to have found this site, because I am having a difficult time finding any other research. The vet wants her to have a fentanyl patch on for 12 hours prior to the surgery. She is going to inject her with metacam prior as well. I know she won't feel anything with the anesthesia, but postop, I just worry about the pain. I know she will be on pain medications postop and I'd assume remain on them for at least a week. Neither the fistula nor the tail seem to bother her. It doesn't cause pain, she has regular BMs.

LDVet said...

I'm sorry but would it not be better to promote a healthier breed standard where you don't have these extreme corkscrew tails in the first place? Dogs use their tails for communication and balance in a normal situation but it has gotten to a stage where their tails are redundant for these things as well as being potentially actively painful. Prevention is so much better than cure!