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Q: Severe Pain in My Dog's Tail ( Answered,   6 Comments )
Subject: Severe Pain in My Dog's Tail
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: mayalin-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 02 Feb 2003 12:55 PST
Expires: 04 Mar 2003 12:55 PST
Question ID: 156419
I want to know the underlying cause of severe pain in my dog's tail,
so I can treat it. The 3 outward manifestations of his pain are his
crying, his itching agitation, and large under-the-skin bumps on the
top and underside of his tail, midway down the tail . He has
skin problems which my research indicates as a candida infection.  I
treat that condition successfully, then have this tail pain following.
What is this tail condition?

Request for Question Clarification by knowledge_seeker-ga on 02 Feb 2003 16:00 PST
Hi mayalin,

I wonder if your veterinarians (or you in your research) have ruled
out flea allergy dermatitis. The symptoms you are describing are very
typical -- the tail itch and breaking out and constant worrying it by
the dog. Usually lots of licking (if they can reach) and rubbing the
tail raw. The skin infection is secondary to the initial allergic

It doesn't take many fleas to cause a reaction in a sensitive dog. If
you are finding this problem is exacerbated in the summer, it may be
the root source of your pooch's problem.

Here is some basic info on flea allergy dermatitis. Let me know if the
symptoms match what you are seeing, and I'd be happy to do a little
follow up reseach for you.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis


Request for Question Clarification by knowledge_seeker-ga on 03 Feb 2003 05:11 PST
Hi again myalin, 

Well, you certainly have been thorough in trying to help your poor
pup. I'm not sure how much help I can be here, but maybe if I ask the
right questions we can narrow down the problem.

1) What kind of dog is he? Certain breeds are associated with specific
problems and maybe we can find something there.

2) You say the dog is sensitive psychologically. Do you notice an
increase in his problems when you are away or when the dog is home
alone more than usual? Perhaps there is some kind of stress reaction
going on here?

I really can't "answer" your question in an official sense because any
answer I propose will be pure conjecture and subject to verification
on your part. In other words, I won't take your money by speculating
on "possible causes". Plus, the price you are offering for an answer
doesn't really allow for in-depth research and repeated

Purely for my own interest however, I am willing to go another round
or two of discussion with you.

If you wouldn't mind responding to my questions here using your
"Clarification" button rather than the "Comment" field, that would
help a great deal. When you do that, Google Answers will alert me with
an email and I can respond sooner.



Clarification of Question by mayalin-ga on 03 Feb 2003 21:45 PST
Hi -K~ I had no idea all of this was behind scenes.. so had to search
for the Clarify Button.  This is my first trip into Google Answers.
Amos is mostly Australian Shepherd, accidentally mixed with a little
hunting dog, Pointer, I understand.  He took on the Aussie
characteristics, though, even to very minute details "herding" dogs
have. His present "tail" situation gets more painful for everybody
each day. How Can I tell you all you need to know in this format??!! I
feel helpless.  Anyway, to clarify what I want via this question.... I
am hoping you can find a vet who specializes in tail problems in dogs,
perhaps in the Aussie breed? But not limited to that. My husband Mike
has been thinking Amos has an abcess in his tail, because it swells
and puffs up at the base, then the "bumps" or "knots" appear and his
tail seems on fire with pain... then his need to bite it.  Mike thinks
the tail possibly may need draining.  I've gotten wordy here and
nothing about the psychological state.  Has separation anxiety to the
nth degree. Takes human problems on his back and worries. Has learned
my buttons and pushes them to manipulate me. Uses his "condition" to
let us know if he doesn't like something... say if Mike and I argue,
or if he, Amos isn't getting his dinner when he wants it......  Does
this help?  I upped my payment ... had no idea... not thinking....
Sorry. Can raise it more if needed..  mayalin-ga

Request for Question Clarification by knowledge_seeker-ga on 04 Feb 2003 05:35 PST
Good Morning Mayalin!

Hey, you're doing great with this Google Answers system! 

First of all, thank you for raising your price. I really feel like I
can get my teeth into this question now.

Ok. So let's see if we can find you someone to really spend time
figuring out what's going on with poochie - both physically and
behaviorally. (You want to tell me the pup's name so I can quit
calling him poochie? :-) )

What I need to know from you now is where you live. If we're going to
find you a veterinarian or some other specialist, I have to know where
you are and how far you're willing to travel. (Google Answers is a
world-wide operation. I'd hate to find you the perfect veterinarian in
Australia, and then find out you live in Canada!)

As soon as I have that information I'll start doing the research and
put together a list of resources for you.

I look forward to hearing from you --


Request for Question Clarification by knowledge_seeker-ga on 04 Feb 2003 05:50 PST

I see you did tell me his name, Amos! Sorry. I was so busy reading the
symptoms, I missed that part.  :-)


Request for Question Clarification by knowledge_seeker-ga on 17 Feb 2003 04:37 PST
Hey Mayalin,

Are you still interested in having yoour question answered? 


Clarification of Question by mayalin-ga on 21 Feb 2003 19:12 PST
I apologize to knowledge seeker-ga.  My husband has cancer, and I
unexpectedly had to be away from my computer for his problems.  Yes I
still want an answer for Amos.  In fact, Amos's problem is reaching an
emergency situation.

I think my presence of mind has not been 'present' enough lately to
deal with so many crises, but I'm here trying to do so.

Would you please forgive me and re-state the clarification you need?
Also, did Google stop sending me notices when an answer was posted to
me?  I didn't get any notices after 2 or 3 days.  I had to switch
e-mail programs around that time, but my e-mail address remained the

I hope to hear from you.


Request for Question Clarification by bcguide-ga on 22 Feb 2003 01:14 PST
What part of the country do you live in... The reason I ask is that
there are holistic vets out there who share your views on animal
treatment. Maybe a referral to one would help. You certainly don't
need this worry on top of being a caregiver for a spouse with cancer!


Request for Question Clarification by knowledge_seeker-ga on 24 Feb 2003 09:20 PST
Hi mayalin,

I'm terribly sorry to hear about your husband. It sounds like you have
a lot on your plate right now. I'm certainly not pressing you to
address this question. You clearly have other things to worry about. I
just wanted you to know that I'm still willing to help with Amos's

If you could just tell me where you live (city / country) and how far
you might be willing to travel for Amos's treatment, I'll find you
someone near you who can help him.

Thanks and best wishes ...


Clarification of Question by mayalin-ga on 24 Feb 2003 14:00 PST
Hi K!

I'm so terribly sorry about this cat-and-mouse thingie I've been doing
with you.  I did not intend it. Yes. I know all that about location
and vets.  In fact, if I didn't live in this isolated place, I'd
perhaps never have needed google answers!

I live amidst national forests and small mountains in Alabama --
roughly the NE quadrant, but close to the Central part of the state as
well.  I'm 20 miles from the famous Talladega Speedway (if you are
into car racing), and I'm about an hour's drive from Anniston Alabama,
where chemical weapons are due to be  incinerated, and have drawn much
national attention since September 11.  I'm an Atlanta girl, so we go
there, and to Birmingham, AL for some of our needs.

We do most of our shopping for groceries and such in Anniston, so for
logistical reasons would prefer something there, or within that
radius.  I have taken Amos to a vet in Alexander City (similar
distance to Anniston), who is both Holistic and Allopathic... Dr.
Battistella.  She is good but too busy for Amos's needs... seemed to
me at the time.  Plus! she did not seem to recognize the magnitude of
his problem, and appeared to be approaching the situation with similar
methodology to that of his allopapthic vet.

I could be wrong about her.  BTW, I'm back to researching the problem
myself -- when I can get the time.  I brush and groom him everyday and
thus am intimate with his problems.  He has chewed a ring of deep
sores around his tail at midway.  I knew he had sore knots there under
his hair, but he started begging me to brush that area yesterday and I
discovered the sores.

Here's hoping you don't think I'm just too weird, but he seems to be
having a pleasure/pain experience with all this.  When I brush the
sores, his legs sink down and down until he's almost on the ground,
while his tongue goes in and out of his mouth --- all of this in a
trance-type, yet very intense, state.

So, if the pleasure-pain principle is involved, he may not *want* to
get well??!!??  I'm asking.  Believe me, I've had to reach into my
depths of empathy and feeling and understanding and all my resources,
in my attempt to deal with Amos.

Another part of his pleasure/pain/tailsores journey:  He was outside a
few weeks back when I heard him crying and moaning.  I thought he was
having a panic attack, like he does when he lowers his rear and runs
for us to help him with pain.  But I peeped out a back window,
thankfully, instead of going to the door, from which he could have
seen me. He was moaning and whimpering as he rotated his rear-end
around and around on the asphalt section outside our back door.  I
couldn't believe it; had to look twice or more.  I left him to it,
thinking that was better than tearing holes with his teeth.

But I felt sad and lonely and hurt for him.  Later, I found he had
rubbed himself a couple of new bloody sores -- from the asphalt.

Amos has been on a good diet since a year ago last November.  That's
when I started BARF for both dogs.  He gets more supplements than most
humans; a varied diet that considers his need for enzymes, and
considers protection for his immune system.  So, all sores usually
heal quickly -- unless he bites himself.

For that I finally got a mesh muzzle (still in package) and an
Elizabethan collar (still in storage room)--- while he continues to
bite and bite and bite.  Defiantly at times, power plays at times,
adolescent "got ya Mom" at times and so on.  My main mistake with Amos
was not taking him to obedience classes immediately after getting him.
 I thought Mike and I could "do that".  Forget that one!  Neither of
us know how, not even after spending about a thousand bucks on dogcare
books (the books were for dissertation too).

Anyway, I'm thinking along the lines of a damaged nerve affecting his
tail some way.  Ringworm even came to my mind today.  Grasping at
straws, I guess. But I will research the nerve possibility.

Thanks for your concern.  Mike has finished radiation treatments and
is quite perky.  He seems his 'old self'.  But we still pray and hope.
 He goes back for a check-up in 5 weeks.  Meanwhile, I have him on
Homeopathic remedies, herbs, vitamins, etc. AND have gotten him to
walking on our trail!!!

He wants to pose the question to you as he sees Amos, and I think
that's a good thing.  He cuddled and baby-sat Amos with this problem
before I got involved... couple of years I guess... while I had other

I don't mean that Mike will ask a different question from what I've
asked.  Just state the question from his viewpoint.  To me, that seems
like clarification.  Correct me if I'm wrong.  And please speak your
thoughts about hearing Mike's view. How would he go about stating it?

Thanks a Bunch!

Request for Question Clarification by pinkfreud-ga on 24 Feb 2003 14:09 PST

This may sound extreme, but have you considered having Amos's tail
amputated? Several years ago my husband and I adopted a wonderful
terrier who had been found whimpering in a ditch after having been hit
by a car. The vet was not able to save her tail, but a "de-tailed" dog
can function just fine. I don't think our Bambi even remembers that
she used to have a waggy thing at the end of her body.

Request for Question Clarification by knowledge_seeker-ga on 25 Feb 2003 06:22 PST
Ok mayalin,

Thanks so much for your additional information. I'll be getting in
touch with some of my veterinary contacts and see if I can get a
personal recommendation for someone in your area who specializes in
situations such as yours.

Meanwhile, it sounds like Amos is in a great deal of pain. I wonder if
it would be worthwhile, for his relief, to check him into an animal
hospital where they can administer something strong by injection --
even if just to calm him and give him temporary pain relief. Things
sound very stressful at your house, and maybe some time away would do
him good. Just a thought ...

I'll be back in touch. Your patience is appreciated --


Clarification of Question by mayalin-ga on 28 Feb 2003 21:31 PST
I see no "new" clarification request.  The only item to which I have
not responded is whether or not I would consider amputation of my
dog's tail.  Although I appreciate both responders for taking time and
having the concern to reply to my question, I have not answered back
because the question/suggestion is irrelevant.  It is irrelevant at
this particular time, based on what I know about Amos's situation.

Amos has skin problems, hot spots, severe itching, nervous habits,
bites himself bloody, etc. long before the noticeable activity in his
tail.  There may be underlying problems in the tail, not visible at
some points, but the tail appears to develop its problems after other
body parts have raged with heat,itching, sores, and such, then be on
the way to healing and health.  However, he CAN itch and bite himself
anywhere, during the problem phases (which started in March last year,
and they usually start in the Spring or early Summer ---  I know, I
know..... sounds like an allergy.  Been there done that -- for the
most part).

Does all I've said clarify anything for anyone?  I hope so; if not, I
will gladly try again.

But what I'm saying here is that this is not a "tail problem" per se. 
If I started amputating body parts which were problems, I would have
to amputate his legs, his elbows, his butt, his thighs, a hip or two
--- at any given time during these phases we go through.

The reason my question concentrated on the tail is because I'd gotten
the rest of his body 'out of the woods' so to speak... healing, in
other words, when the tail became problematic.  At which point my
husband always speaks up with his belief that the tail needs surgery,
needs to be drained, because he thinks there is an ABCESS in the tail.
 I don't think so, but I don't KNOW so.  In fact, this situation makes
me wonder if I know anything at all!

Thanks for everyone's help.  If you have more questions, let me know. 
I'm on good behavior these days.....  Must say that I DO like
practical jokes, though.  And mine are based in reality -- a real
need, a real fear....

Thanks,        mayalin-ga  Oh! I see a suggestion from -K~.  More
Subject: Re: Severe Pain in My Dog's Tail
Answered By: knowledge_seeker-ga on 01 Mar 2003 18:26 PST
Hey there Myalin! 

Alright -- I've read everything you have to say, done all the research
I can do, talked to all the people I need to talk to, and finally have
what I consider to be an answer that complies with your request for a
veterinarian or other professional who can help Amos.

First, a summary of where we stand:

You are dealing with two issues here ------ 

One is the physical illness or infection that Amos is suffering from. 
That is, the physical cause behind the initial itch or pain that makes
him chew and rub himself raw and the resulting infection that sets in
after he begins bothering the itchy site which further exacerbates his

The initial physical cause could be anything: mites, allergies, food
sensitivities, fleas, hormonal imbalances, ingestion of nutritional
supplements not meant for dogs, genetic disorder, shampoo sensitivity,
or autoimmune disease. So far we don't have a definitive answer.

The key here is to identify the physical cause and to apply the right
treatment.  But, as you've pointed out, sometimes the treatment works
for a time, then the symptoms reappear. So, either no one has
diagnosed the physical cause correctly, or something else is coming
into play.

Secondly, you are dealing with a possible behavioral aspect to Amos's
problem which may trigger the onset of his physical symptoms. This
could be stress, boredom, fear, or any combinations of things.

The key to treating a dog's behavioral problems is the same as when
treating a human child's behavioral problem – everyone has to be
educated and involved. That is, you can't just change the dog's
behavior; you have to take into account your own (and your husband's)
dynamic with him.  For this to work, you need to enlist the help of a
canine behavioral specialist – someone who understands dog behavior
and can help you to help Amos.

You can do this Myalin. And so can Amos. You just need the right

So, let's start with some words of wisdom compiled from talking to a
couple of veterinarians who have experience with the medical aspects
of what Amos is dealing with –

They tell me that there is a whole raft of things that could cause the
skin eruptions and itch that Amos is suffering from (most of which I
listed in the first paragraph above).  But, no matter what it is, the
cause IS diagnosable using standard allopathic veterinary procedures: 
skin biopsy, blood work, allergy tests, and such. Nothing just
"happens" to a dog. It just may be that the cause is one of the less
common itch-related things, and maybe the correct tests haven't been
done yet.

I understand that your preference is to look at alternative routes for
understanding this, but honestly Myalin, you can't get around actual
testing. Something physical is happening here and you have to find out
what it is – for Amos's sake.  There may be psychogenic aspects to
Amos's problem as well, but until ALL of the physical causes have been
identified or eliminated, you can't even begin to address the
behavioral ones.

Now, what my veterinarian friends recommend is that you abandon your
search for the cure through local veterinarians who may have limited
resources, and instead go with a multi-pronged approach that is only
available through larger hospitals – and the best large hospitals of
all are the Veterinary teaching hospitals associated with the big
Veterinary schools.

These are the large hospitals that many veterinarians refer patients
to if they themselves can't get to the route of an animal's problem.
Teaching hospitals have state of the art technology, are up to date on
all the recent research, can provide experts in every aspect of
veterinary care, and most of all are staffed by enthusiastic doctors
who truly care for animals and enjoy the challenge of being faced with
an unusual case.

Myalin, I have been in several of these hospitals, and they are
wonderful!  The people are incredibly dedicated. For example, I have a
friend whose cocker spaniel inexplicably lost 100% or her fur. Amber,
the dog, was happy, perky, and in otherwise good health, but entirely
bald.  They took her to vet after vet who could find neither cause nor
cure. Finally they took her to a veterinary teaching hospital and
after a few weeks of tests she was diagnosed with some rare problem (I
don't recall what) that the local veterinarians had never even heard
of.  The hospital kept her for nearly a month before she was
pronounced cured. When they released her, some of the technicians
actually cried to see her go. Three years later the family still gets
Christmas cards from the staff -- addressed to Amber of course.

So, these are not cold unfriendly places. They are wonderful
enthusiastic caring places. As I said, they have all of the
specialists necessary, and nowadays all include behavioral specialists
as part of their regular staff. They finally understand that medicine
is more than just pills and xrays. To heal a whole animal you have to
address what's going on in their minds as well as their bodies. A
holistic approach is necessary.

Myalin, I really think this should be your route with Amos. 

Of the 26 Veterinary Teaching Hospitals in the US, the two that are
nearest to you are listed below. Take a look at them and maybe give
each one a call to see what they can offer you. Even if they are a bit
of a drive, if you can get an appointment and possible check Amos in
for a good workup, it would be worth your while to travel there.

Like you, I'm worried about Amos.  He needs some relief and he needs
it soon.


This large teaching hospital includes specialties in the following
areas that may pertain to Amos's problem:

•	Dermatology 
•	Pain Management Consultation 
•	Consultation on Nutritional Problems 

They also have two behavioral specialists on hand:  

Sharon Crowell-Davis 
Terry Marie Curtis. 

Hospital hours:

     Weekdays - 8am to 6pm
     Saturdays - 8am to noon

Hospital Appointments:
       Small Animal:  (706) 542-2895
       Small Animal:  (800) 542-929


page 4]


Unfortunately, this teaching hospital has virtually no web presence.
Their site is rudimentary and geared towards students rather than
clients.  It offers no practical information to clients about the
hospital at all. Even finding this little bit of information was a
frustrating endeavor. [You don't even want to know what I gave them on
their website feedback form!]



However, if you are interested in speaking with someone there and
setting up an appointment , here is their phone directory listing:

Tuskegee University - Small Animal Clinic 
Tuskegee, AL 36083 
(334) 727-8436 

Also note that Tuskegee has a specialized program in the study of
human and animal relationships. It is run by an award-winning
veterinarian and a clinical psychologist. I would suggest contacting

Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine Center for the Study
of Human-Animal Interdependent Relationships


These folks seem to have a unique focus that addresses the interaction
between humans and their pets. It may be a good idea to contact them
and get a referral to someone in your area.

The American Association of Human Bond Veterinarians*

*site is still under construction, so the directory is not available.
However, one of their directors is in Alabama. You could probably
email her for a list of members.

Brenda Griffin, DVM, MS, DACVIM
Auburn University
Auburn, AL
(334) 844-5951        


Myalin, I wish you and Amos and Mike the best. I truly hope I've been
able to help you with the information I've presented here.  I've
addressed your basic question, which essentially was, "who can help
Amos?"  the best way I possibly could.

Again I reiterate, you can't address his behavioral problems without
first eliminating any and every physical source.  Sadly, I know too
many horror stories (the details of which I won't burden you with
here) of dogs who nearly died of physical problems because their
owners thought the dogs were just "acting out." These poor dogs
suffered terribly before finally being brought to a medical clinic for

Thank you so much for coming here for help. This has been an
interesting project to say the least! I close with the words I have
always given my family when we've had to deal with ailing pets:

"Always do right by the dog."

Take care Myalin and give my best to your husband –

Subject: Re: Severe Pain in My Dog's Tail
From: tisme-ga on 02 Feb 2003 14:04 PST
Hello mayalin,

I was not able to turn up anything specific but I do recommend that
you visit a good vet as soon as possible.

Subject: Re: Severe Pain in My Dog's Tail
From: steph53-ga on 02 Feb 2003 14:05 PST
Hi Mayalin........

Given the seriousness of your dog's condition, may I suggest you take
him to a veterinarian? Some things are better left to be diagnosed and
treated by a trained professional. I am an avid lover of all animals
and it hurts me to see any pet in pain. Good luck to you and your

Subject: Re: Severe Pain in My Dog's Tail
From: mayalin-ga on 02 Feb 2003 14:58 PST
Hi tisme-ga and Steph53-ga, 
Believe me, we have spent a fortune on this very special doggie. The
various vets we've used have not found anything they could treat (or
they've chosen to play deaf and dumb if they have.) I'm not a vet, but
I'm a doctor in the holistic health field for humans, with a lifetime
of personal work with animals.  I discovered that the vets treatments
of this dog (and other dogs nationwide)were the CAUSE of the problem
in the first place, i.e., an invasive systemic yeast
overload/infection, brought on by excessive use of antibiotics,
steroids, and bad food. I devoted 24/7 all last summer researching and
treating that problem. He is now well, and I'm desperate for help with
this.  mayalin-ga
Subject: Re: Severe Pain in My Dog's Tail
From: jumpingjoe-ga on 02 Feb 2003 17:26 PST
You could always amputate the tail. Drastic I know...
Subject: Re: Severe Pain in My Dog's Tail
From: mayalin-ga on 02 Feb 2003 19:28 PST
Hi -K~

Any research help you find, I will appreciate immensely! We have ruled
out Flea Allergy Dermatitis, although acknowledging a single flea
*could* initiate the process and/or exacerbate it. However, if his
immune system is tip-top, he should have no allergic reaction,
ideally. I gave him immune system builders out the ears! During the
seven months I devoted full-time to this research, *everything* began
to sound like his problem.  A few we eliminated: hypothyroidism,
eczema, multiple forms of psoriasis, ditto dermatitis... We now
speculate an abcess of some sort in the tail. About 2" of his tail,
from the body base, gets swollen and puffy. The knots or bumps form
further down his tail, and are under the skin, hard. It seems no
external inflammation, but knots have a more ruddy appearance than
surrounding skin. thanx mayalin-ga
Subject: Re: Severe Pain in My Dog's Tail
From: mayalin-ga on 02 Feb 2003 19:52 PST
P.S. to -K~,
Research ruled out most conditions listed at, but I can't
remember for sure the findings on kertizination (sp) defects.  This
dog is unusually sensitive in many ways, psychologically, physically,
low pain tolerance....  At 6 years of age, his skin is baby pink,
delicate, and freckled -- underneath beautiful white hair that is more
like silk (he is white with gold/sable markings).  Also intellectually
sensitive. I've taught him abstract concepts people don't believe
until they see him demonstrating.  As to treatment protocols, I see
red when I hear steroid. Prednisone has been used as a "quick fix" for
this dog's itching, only to increase multi-fold his problem downline.
Thanks, mayalin-ga

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