My Dog Yelps When I Lift His Tail

A dog’s tail is an end of the backbone and comprises a string of small bones. Each bone is encased in a muscle that controls movement such as wagging, curling, lifting, and turning. The tail has got about four to seven nerves attached to the muscles. The muscles and tendons are connected to the anus, rectum, and pelvic diaphragm. The tail helps the dog gain balance when jumping, climbing stairs, traversing through narrow spaces, or swimming.

A dog communicates with the tail, and certain types of wags convey specific emotions. The tail is an integral part of the dog’s anatomy and an extension of the spine. The nerves in the tail make it sensitive to touch. A dog will feel physically startled and may react defensively when the tail is lifted.

Why You Should Not Lift Your Dog’s Tail

Though your dog may want to be touched in other places, lifting your dog’s tail will be met with resistance. Lifting your dog’s tail can be terrifying and scary for your dog.

Lifting your dog’s tail may not cause injury to the spinal cord, but you may cause some injury to the tail’s base. The muscle underneath the tail is responsible for bowel and bladder functions in your dog. Lifting your dog’s tail could compromise this function, and your dog may suffer temporary or permanent incontinence and constipation. 

The tail of your dog serves as a counterbalance when your dog jumps or turns sharp corners.  Trying to lift your dog by the tail may accidentally strain the tail muscles.  This may cause the tail to sag and expose your dog to balance problems.

Why My Dog Yelps When the Tail Is Lifted

When a dog has a sprained muscle in the tail, lifting the tail will cause the dog to yelp because the tail is painful to touch. Though a limber tail is not a disease, it causes inflammation, and the dog experiences discomfort. Any dog can have a limber tail and will yelp when the tail is lifted.

Fractures in a dog’s tail occur when a dog falls off from a height or tail gets slammed in a car. This injury may involve nerve damage and is sensitive to touch. In more severe cases the tail may be amputated. Lifting this tail will cause the dog to yelp.

It is normal for a dog to resist being touched at the tail, especially when the tail has an abrasion, such as scrapes. This injury may cause the dog’s red skin to be exposed, and bleeding may also occur. Abrasion on a dog’s tail is painful, and your dog will yelp when the tail is lifted.  

Tail biting can result from flea allergies or an impacted anal gland and leave the dog’s tail exposed to wounds. This type of laceration is painful, and your dog will yelp when you lift the tail.

What to Do When Your Dog’s Tail Gets Injured

Most dog tail issues will go away after your dog gets enough rest. An injured dog tail muscle can be treated by giving your dog antibiotics and painkillers. 

Lifting your dog’s tail may be inevitable if you need to inspect injury or check the area surrounding the tail.  Dog trainers can teach you how to handle your dog in instances such as this. Your dog also needs to be taught to accept being handled at the tail area.

When dealing with your dog’s tail injuries, it is crucial to be aware that some dogs may respond aggressively when the tail is lifted. It is safe not to have children around you when lifting your dog’s tail. 

You can also take your dog to a vet in situations where you think that lifting your dog’s tail will cause you harm or injury. 


Lifting a dog’s tail can cause severe damage to the muscles and nerves. Strained muscles swell and cause the dog to experience pain. A dog with an injured tail is sensitive to touch and will yelp when the tail is touched.

When it is necessary to lift a dog’s tail, caution needs to be taken because even a non-aggressive dog can respond with hostility when the tail is lifted. Though dogs love to play and want to be touched in other places, most dogs will yelp when the tail is lifted, and this is considered a normal response.

1 thought on “My Dog Yelps When I Lift His Tail

  1. Kristina Greenwell

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