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How to Take Care of a Docked Tail

| Updated August 11, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Clean bedding

  • Scissors

  • Plastic Elizabethan collar (optional)

  • Veterinary appointment

You may have a dog that belongs to a breed in which tails normally are docked -- surgically shortened -- shortly after birth, like a Doberman pinscher. You may have an adult dog, such as a Labrador retriever or previously non-docked Great Dane, that has had to undergo an emergency tail docking as the result of a serious injury. In any case, a docked tail requires some care on the part of the owner, and even though puppies will be cared for by their mothers, you will need to monitor their surgery sites until the incisions are fully healed.

Keep the dog's bedding clean. For puppies, replace bedding in the whelping box more often than usual. In order to heal, docked tails will need a clean, dry environment free of urine and fecal matter. For an adult dog who has had an emergency tail docking, wash the dog bed, or at least the cover, before your pet returns from the vet.

Remove the bandages after two or three days, or whenever your veterinarian tells you to do so. Use small, safe scissors, such as embroidery or bandage scissors, to carefully cut the bandages and tape away from the tip of the dog's tail.

Monitor the incision for redness, swelling and discharge, which are signs of infection. Keep an eye on your adult docked dog or the puppies' mother to make sure the incision site is not being over-groomed or licked. If your adult dog will not leave a newly docked tail tip alone, place a plastic Elizabethan collar around your pet's neck to restrict its ability to reach the tail.

Take the puppies or dog back to the vet in five to seven days to have stitches removed, if stitches were used during docking.