Tail Amputation For English Bulldogs

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Tail Amputation English Bulldogs

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?

english bulldog tail amputation

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 

sick english bulldog

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?

bulldog tail amputation

  • 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

tail amputation for bulldogs

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.

english bulldog care tail amputation

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? 

bulldog tail surgery

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

english bulldog tail problems

  • 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

after tail amputation surgery english bulldog

  • 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

bulldog puppy tail amputation

(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.

Doak’s Symptoms

  • Itchiness
  • Irritation
  • Chewing his tail
  • Recurring yeast infections

Doak’s Surgery

  • 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 Recovery

  • 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

bulldog tail before surgery

Day #1 Post-Op (Closeup)

day after bulldog tail surgery

Day #1 Post-Op

bulldog tail infections

Day #7 Post-Op

corkscrew tail surgery

Day #14 Post-Op (After stitches came out)

bulldog tails

Day #21 Post-Op

bulldog surgery for tails

Day #30 Post-Op

bulldog tail surgery cost

Have any of your bulldogs had tail amputation surgery? How did it go? Let us know in the comments section.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation.

10 COMMENTS

  1. I dig this site & I’ll definitely recommend this site to my friends with English Bulldogs.

  2. Our Bulldog Louis is receiving his tail amputation as we speak.
    It was a very thought out decision to do this drastic procedure
    After numerous dr visits, antibiotics,
    Steroids, and constant gentle cleaning , drying and applying ointments, we just couldn’t keep his tail pocket area free of infection
    Louis is young @ only a year and half ,and our poor guy was always in distress and uncomfortable. He couldn’t even sleep through the night without waking to his spinning on his back side to try and receive some sort of relief.
    Louis has an Olde English bulldog brother that does not have any of these issues for the simple fact of Douglas not having the same infection “unfriendly’ tail
    Lou and Doug love to play together and Louis would try and stay enthusiastic during play time only to become distressed when his backside would irritate him so much he would walk or run away to sit in the other room to be left alone in what definitely appeared to be misery..
    We are so hoping this surgery will help our love able , sweetheart of a boy feel better again

  3. Our little guy, Marshmallow, is having his tomorrow. This site has been really helpful so I am more prepared. Thanks!

  4. Hi Tim, thanks for your comment and glad you’ve found our community site useful! How is Marshmallow recovering from his surgery?

  5. Thanks, betterbully! Marshmallow is doing well! The first night was definitely difficult but he was back to “guarding” a couple days after the surgery.

    The only issue we are having is that the vet wants to keep his stitches in a little longer than the 2 weeks he initially thought. Marshmallow also has trouble expressing himself so his anal glands are usually full so I think the vet is wanting to avoid any undue infection after expressing his glands.

  6. Mine had the tail amp surgery thru rescue but she still spins and scoots, no anal gland issues someone told me she can still have a pocket ugh

  7. Hi Cindy, sorry to hear that your bully is still having issues after surgery. Dr. Kraemer is a bulldog expert and the dr. for So Cal Bulldog Rescue. He’s a bulldog lover and has volunteered to write for free on betterbully.com. I’m thinking he’d probably have the best quality answer for you here. If you can describe in as much detail as possible (including photos) what’s going on, I’ll ask him to reply. – Ryan

  8. Hi Tim, how was the removal of the stitches? Is Marshmallow recovered now? Anal gland issues are tough and stinky, we’ve had them with our female but never with our male. Looking forward to a health update and if you have any questions, please ask!

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