The main reason for starting this blog is the lack of information on the internet about bulldog tail amputation. I am not a veterinarian. I am a bulldog owner that couldn’t find good enough information regarding this procedure from forums and other people’s experiences. I’ll be covering when I think you should have your dog’s tail amputated (symptoms), the surgery process (cost, length), the medication (there’s quite a lot), the recovery time, and the final outcome (was it worth it or not).
A little background on my dog. His name is Doak. He is awesome. I got him from a breeder in Kansas. The breeder shipped him with a “puppy nanny”, basically a lady that had him in her carry-on so he didn’t have to ride with the luggage. Overall, he’s been a great dog and hasn’t had any major health problems that have slowed him down. Here’s some of the vet visits we’ve had in the past two years: Neutered when he was about 1 year old, a couple skin issues (very minor stuff and really common with bulldogs), laser palate surgery to help him breath better, and the tail amputation. The laser palate surgery was pretty minor and cost about $450. Oh, he also ripped his toenail off playing with his crate.
Symptoms and when to amputate?
I was obsessive about keeping Doak clean. I would wipe his bum multiple times a day with baby wipes. I tried diaper cream, baby powder, medicated wipes, and anti-itch spray but, nothing seemed to relieve his itchiness. He would spin on his butt, looking like he was trying to reach his backside. It would stop him in his tracks if he was playing or out on a walk, and he would start spinning like a top. He would love to get his butt scratched (what dog doesn’t?), and he would lick the air whenever his butt was scratched. He seemed generally unsettled and constantly irritated. He also chewed constantly, which I think was an effort to alleviate or distract him from some of the itchiness. I took him to the vet early on to see what the issue was and they told me to just keep him clean and dry back there, and that he had a nice tail. He doesn’t have an extremely deep tail pocket or an inverted tail, so I thought I just had to be more diligent with my cleaning efforts. Nothing seemed to work. He was still irritated and still spinning.
This continued for nearly a year and a half and I finally took him back to the vet again. I told them his butt was itchy and they determined all the itchiness was because of a yeast infection. Basically the bacteria and moisture get caught under the tail and it’s a perfect spot for infections. My vet prescribed some medicated wipes (a 1 month supply was $20, and I would have to continue using them for the remainder of Doak’s life. Assuming he lives another 8 years, that’d be almost $2000!). My vet said if they didn’t work then another possibility would be to amputate the tail. A couple weeks later there was no improvement, so I called and scheduled the tail amputation.
The surgery is a major surgery. My vet stressed that it’s not just a quick nip and tuck. I suggest you youtube a video of the procedure to get an idea of what it is. The dog’s tail is part of the spine so, they have to cut into your dog and separate the tail from the spine. Make sure you trust your vet, they are experienced with bulldogs, and confident in performing the procedure. I suggest asking your vet as many questions as possible. Everything I’ve read and even my vet said that you should exhaust every option before doing the surgery. After having done the surgery, I wish I would’ve just gone right to it rather than trying alternative methods.
On the day of the surgery, Doak was taken to the vet in the morning, stayed the night, and was picked up the following day. The surgery is not cheap. I live in the Sacramento area and the total cost of the surgery was $1050. It could be more or less depending on your location, your vet, complications, etc. For me, this seemed like a reasonable price and would be worth it if it made him feel better. This price included everything – anesthesia, IV fluids, boarding for the night, the surgery, and all the medications.
They sent him home with four medications. A fentanyl patch (like morphine) that he wore for 3 days, and a two week supply of Rimadyl (anti-inflammatory), Tramadol (pain pills like oxycodone), and cephalexin (antibiotic).
Everything went well with the surgery and Doak recovered nicely. He was pretty drugged up and groggy for the first few days, and then he was back to his normal self by about day 5. He never seemed like he was is in any pain and everything healed up great.
It’s been a little over a month since Doak’s tail amputation and he is doing great! No more itchy butt, or spinning in circles. He is a lot more calm and relaxed. The only regret I have about the tail amputation is that I didn’t do it sooner. Although it’s an expensive procedure, I think it’s worth every penny. I don’t have to worry about his tail getting infected anymore and cleaning him is a breeze. No more wiping his butt and trying to dig under his tail to clean his tail pocket. If you think your dog’s tail is a problem and making him/her uncomfortable, I highly recommend looking into having it amputated. Doak is happier and healthier because of it. Also, he got some pretty sweet drugs out of the deal.