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All of these conditions are one in the same where the muscles that are used to wag and raise the tail are over-used or strained, which leads to the dog’s tail looking limp. It commonly occurs in working breeds or breeds that frequently hunt and swim. The cold water and rapid motion of the tail can essentially cause the tail muscles to strain, or it may be caused from over-exertion – imagine that with a Golden Retriever, because they aren’t ever hyper… yeah right.
This condition can actually be quite painful for dogs – think of having a sprained ankle and trying to put weight on it. Many times, we as pet owners see our dogs still playing, running around and seemingly happy, but they show pain differently than humans. DO NOT ever give your dog Tylenol or Advil as these can cause acute liver failure and other health related issues. The best option is to visit your local veterinarian to make sure there is not an underlying or more serious condition, and they will prescribe the best anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medication for your dog, if necessary.
Luckily, this condition goes away in a couple of days to a couple of weeks, depending on the dog. The most important thing is to try and get them to rest it as much as possible, which sometimes can be more challenging than others. Sam took about 3 days to fully regain strength in her tail, but now she is wagging it more than ever!
**Note: Please always visit a licensed veterinarian for all questions regarding your dog's health. The situation described above may be different than yours, and is used for referencing purposes only.**