Can Pulling a Dog by Its Tail Damage Its Spinal Cord?

by Whitney Lowell
    Minor to severe injury can occur if your dog's tail is pulled too hard.

    Minor to severe injury can occur if your dog's tail is pulled too hard.

    Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images

    A dog's tail is located at the end of the vertebral column. It is considered the hind-most portion of the backbone. The tail typically contains 23 vertebrae, each enclosed by muscles. All dogs are born with tails, but some breeds have naturally short tail and others have their tails docked. No matter how long or short the tail may be, injury can occur if you pull on it. You might not damage the spinal cord, but pulling on a dog by the tail can cause lifelong harm.

    Tail Pull Injuries

    A dog's tail is connected to the base of the spine. Pulling your dog's tail should not cause injury to the spinal cord, but you could cause serious injury to the base of the tail. The muscles at the base of the tail help him empty his bowels and bladder -- if the tail is pulled so hard that the base of the tail is compromised, he may suffer temporary or permanent incontinence and constipation. The tail may permanently sag, which can cause balance problems. The tail serves as counterbalance when you dog jumps, walks down a narrow path, turns sharp corners or climbs stairs.

    Photo Credits

    • Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Whitney Lowell has been writing online since 2007. She writes for a variety of online publications and across a wide range of topics and niches. She has experience with animal rescue, dog training, pet health and breeding reptiles.

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