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Labrador Puppy Cannot Swim

March 13, 2010

Labrador Retriever Puppy Falls in Pool, Panics!

Plus, Labrador Swimmer Tail

yellow labrador retriever puppy

Max is not feeling very snappy after falling into the pool!

You would think a Lab puppy would naturally be able to swim.  Like a dolphin.  Of course, this is only the case sometimes.

Max fell into the family in ground pool while larking in the back yard.  Even though the family’s other dog jumps in and out of the pool all day, and swims whenever he feels like it, Max had never gone into the pool before.

He came to see Doc Truli in a shivering, huddled mess of dog misery covered in beach towels.

Max fell into the pool.  The pool did not have a protective fence, and Max never learned to swim, or to find the stairs out of the pool.  For about 15 minutes, he frantically hung unto the side of the pool and tried to claw his way up to safety.

“You need just a half hour to teach your puppy to find the stairs in case he or she falls into the pool,” says Doc Truli.  “And, never, never leave your pets unattended by an in ground pool.  They can fall in just like a small child.”

As he was clawing, he ground his hind claws down to the nubs, and they bled profusely on the car ride over to the animal hospital.  When he arrived at the hospital, he shivered, moped, and refused to walk with his hind legs.  Max acted as though he were paralyzed,  Luckily, he was just frightened and terrified.  After drying off, some painkillers for his paws, and some antibiotics to prevent osteomyelitis (bone infection) from the open quicks on his toes, he responded well to a dog treat.

labrador puppy grinds toenails down until they bleed

Unsuccessfully scaling the wall of a swimming pool results in ground nails.

FAQs About Bleeding, Ground Down, Broken Toenails in Puppies and Dogs

Q.  How do I bandage it?

A.  Don’t.  The bandage hurts every time pressure is put on the paw because of the exposed “quick” nerve endings.  If bleeding is profuse, apply pressure or bandage only for 15 minutes until the bleeding stops.  The bandage can be made of sports or medical guaze or guaze pads and medical tape to hold it on. DO NOT LEAVE ON MORE THAN 15 MINUTES! If you are not a vet or vet tech, or some kind of bandaging expert, you will probably apply the bandage wrong for long-term use.  You can easily tourniquet the paw and cut off the blood supply.

Q. Will the toenail grow back?

A. In most cases, yes.  Sometimes, the damaged nail may grow back curved or crooked.  Very rarely it does not grow back.

Q. Does it hurt?

A. Like crazy.  See your veterinarian for painkillers, if nothing else.

Q. Can it get infected?

A. Yup. The quick of the nail is a direct line into the blood system.  See your veterinarian for advice regarding antibiotics.  Not all cases need antibiotics; follow your veterinarian’s advice.

Another Strange Labrador Malady: Swimmer’s Tail

While Doc Truli thinks about Labradors and water sport trauma, here’s another good one.  Sometimes a veterinarian will see a Labrador in the emergency room acting as if his or her back were broken.

“Doc, he won’t get up, his tail hangs limp and funny, and he showed me his teeth when I touched his back.  What’s wrong?”

The physical exam ensues.  Nothing too remarkable, except tons of pain on the hip/tail base area, and a slight warmth and swelling to the muscles at the base of the tail.  Then, extreme pain if the tail is lifted up.

“Did you go out in the boat yesterday?” asks the Doc.

“Why, yeah.  How’d you know?”

“Well, this looks like a case of swimmer’s tail,” says Doc Truli.

What the…?  You see, Labrador Retrievers are so enthusiastic and energetic, they might just swim all day if you let them.  Some of them do this off the boat in the ocean.  That tail acts like a rudder all day long and the muscles get sore and swollen the next day.

A little anti-inflammatory painkillers and rest, and your Labrador is begging to go out swimming some more!

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