Are you considering amputation for your english bulldog’s tail? At a glance, tail amputation may sound like a scary and drastic move for any animal. But it can also become a seemingly necessary one for bulldogs. These fun and feisty pooches are prone to infections in and around the folds of their skin, and tail pockets are prime areas for infections or yeast growth to set in.
If infection sets in from time to time, you can treat it as it crops up.
But if infection continues to recur despite your exhaustive efforts, and your dog is in so much pain and discomfort that he can barely walk or sit, it may be time to consider tail amputation.
What is Tail Amputation Surgery Like?
In dogs, the tail is connected to the spine. The bulldog’s tail is actually the end part of his spine, and tail amputation involves separating the tail from the rest of his spine.
The stub of a tail is removed, along with the skin of the fold surrounding the tail.
The dog is then stitched up and sent home for several weeks of recovery.
What Are The Risks of Tail Amputation Surgery?
While the surgery is major and invasive, it is not necessarily risky. According to Dr. Chris Berg, author of the popular Vet’s Guide to Life blog, tail amputation is very low risk and the chances of surrounding muscles or nerves of the rectum being affected are minimal.
While partial amputation is another option, Dr. Berg says it won’t solve the chronic infection problem since it leaves the folds of skin in place.
He also notes he only recommends the surgery if the area is so badly infection that nothing else will work, and only after all other options have been exhausted.
Watch Bulldog Tail Amputation Surgery (Warning: GRAPHIC)
Alternatives to Tail Amputation
For tail trouble, surgery isn’t the only option. Infections can be treated with antibiotics, topical medications and disinfection, with the type of medication depending on the type and severity of the infection. Diligent cleaning and careful monitoring are recommended, as are daily wipe-downs of your entire dog. Because the deep folds of skin are partially to blame for the infections, the problem is likely to recur unless you get rid of the folds themselves.
A trip to a veterinary dermatologist could also help with skin issues, offering additional alternatives to surgery. You may also find allergies playing a role in your dog’s discomfort, another issue that may have to be addressed to find relief. And remember that treating the symptoms equates to short-term management, not a long-term solution.
Since the surgery is such a major one, getting more than one professional opinion can help with the decision. Start with your primary vet, then opt for a second opinion from another trusted animal doctor in your area.
When is Tail Amputation a Good Option?
- Tail-area infections that just won’t quit
- Deep pockets around the tail that never seem to come clean
- An inverted tail that is actually growing back into the dog’s rear
- Discs fused together at the tail, preventing proper cleaning
What to Expect During Tail Amputation Surgery
While specifics may vary depending on your particular vet, the surgery may require an overnight stay following the operation. Prices will also vary depending on your vet and where you live, with the cost for the overnight stay, surgery, IV fluids, anesthesia and post-surgery medications going for around $1,050 for one bulldog owner in the Sacramento area.
Some pet health insurance plans may cover part of the surgery, although a spot check on one plan put the allowance for the procedure at $245.
Video: Bulldog Puppy 2 Days After Tail Amputation Surgery
Tail Amputation Aftercare
Recuperation is going to be painful for your dog, and you’ll probably be sent home from the vet with pain medication. The Sacramento bulldog owner whose dog underwent the surgery received four different medications for his pooch: a fentanyl pain-relief patch to wear for several days, the anti-inflammatory Rimadyl, pain-relieving Tramadol, and the antibiotic cephalexin.
Some owners have dealt with the stitches becoming inflamed, which they treated with Neosporin. Other post-surgery effects have included diarrhea, constipation, slight leakage from the wound and ripped stitches.
Is Tail Amputation The Last Resort?
While many bulldog owners and vets agree a tail amputation is only the last resort when all other options have failed, more than one owner has said they wished they would have opted for tail amputation sooner than they did. A forum on Facebook features a slight mix of opinions, with most hailing the surgery’s benefits. We gathered a few before and after thoughts and experiences from real Bulldog owners:
Before Tail Amputation Surgery
- Bulldog was miserable, itchy
- Spinning like a top – even stopping during walks
- Rubbing his butt back and forth on his cage
- Pain from constant infection, so bad dogs could barely walk or sit
- Mopey and uncomfortable, “like Eeyore”
- Constant tail cleaning, sometimes very messy tail cleaning
After Tail Amputation Surgery
- Bulldog has 10 times more energy
- Wants to play fetch!
- “I truly believe it renewed his spirit”
- No more discomfort
- Once hair grew back, can’t even tell surgery had been done
- Vet said bulldog now has the “best-looking booty in town”
Doak’s Diary: An English Bulldog Owner Chronicles Her Dog’s Tail Amputation Surgery
This is Doak
(Photo: Life of Doak)
Dock’s owner detailed every step of his tail amputation experience from start-to-finish, with photos and written updates.
We’ve summarized the key points and provided a link to her very helpful tail amputation diary in case you want to learn more.
- Chewing his tail
- Recurring yeast infections
- Cost: $1050, including anesthesia, IV fluids, boarding for the night, the surgery, and all the medications.
- Time: Doak was taken to the vet in the morning, stayed the night, and was picked up the following day.
- Medications: Doak was sent home with four medications:
- 1) A narcotic pain patch called Fentanyl prescribed for three days.
- 2) Rimadyl, an anti-inflammatory medication prescribed for two weeks.
- 3) Tramadol as a non-narcotic medication for pain.
- 4) Cephalexin,a strong antibiotic used after surgery to prevent post-op infections.
- Doak’s surgery was a success!
- Doak was drowsy and drugged up for about 5 days after his surgery.
- No signs of pain or discomfort.
- Wounds healed nicely, without any infections or complications.
- Doak was back to being himself around day 5.
Doak One Month After Surgery
- No more itchy butt, irritation or tail chewing.
- He’s less anxious, more relaxed.
- No more yeast infections.
Doak’s Owner’s Verdict on Tail Amputation Surgery
- Worth every penny
- Only regret is not doing it sooner
- Highly recommends tail amputation for Bulldogs with recurring tail problems that haven’t responded to other treatments
Doak’s Photo Journal
Doak’s Tail Before Surgery
Day #1 Post-Op (Closeup)
Day #1 Post-Op
Day #7 Post-Op
Day #14 Post-Op (After stitches came out)
Day #21 Post-Op
Day #30 Post-Op
Have any of your bulldogs had tail amputation surgery? How did it go? Let us know in the comments section.