Dead Tail

English Setters Occasionally have a problem that is known within the breed as "Dead Tail". This is a painful condition that thankfully is relatively short lived. It usually occurs a few hours after the dog has been bathed, by can also happen after swimming or even if the dog has been sitting around outside in the rain on a cold day. The root of the tail is very painful and the dog seems unable to lift it's tail. The tail is not actually paralysed but does hang limply and feeble attempts to wag cause further distress. Setters have such an active tail on the move and this painful condition appears to affect the whole of their hind movement. Most dogs take a day or two to recover.

Some people think that this is caused by shampoo irritating the anal glands, others that the bath water is too hot but the fact that it can occur in the absence of bathing indicates that it is probably the cold that is responsible. Always make sure that after bathing your dog is dried as quickly as possible and then kept in a warm room overnight. If your dog is affected keep him warm and dry and if necessary give him a painkiller. Providing that the tail is starting to return to normal within a couple of days veterinary attention is not needed. Surprisingly many vets do not recognise this condition, and tending to think it more serious than it is, instigate tests etc that prove unnecessary.

Damage to Occiput

The occipital protuberance is at the back of the skull and gives the English Setter that characteristic "small bump" on the top of the head. It is quite common, especially among youngsters who play fight, to bang their heads and cause internal bleeding in this area which results in a large swelling. The application of an ice pack (in the form of a bag of frozen peas) will help to reduce this but often further play causes the bleeding to start again. In severe cases your veterinary surgeon may draw off some of this fluid if the swelling is very large but unfortunately as the pressure is released from the site of the injury the internal bleeding sometimes recommences. Eventually the bleeding stops and the accumulated fluid is gradually re-absorbed. However this can take several months and often results in fibrous tissue leaving a hard, unsightly enlarged occipital protuberance. At this stage gentle massaging every day will help break down the tissue and eventually all will return to normal.