How Yoda lost his tail

Yoda was a healthy 4 year old French Bulldog with one ongoing, itchy, painful, smelly issue…

Yoda, a French bulldog


He had frequent skin infections around his crooked little tail.

As in many Bulldog type dogs, Yoda had a “screw tail,” also called “corkscrew tail,” “ingrown tail,” or tail fold dermatitis.”

The problem with this condition is not the tail itself, but the issues the malformation creates. The malformed tail creates skin folds that become infected.

The skin folds are not exposed to air and they create a moist, dark, warm environment – heaven for all kinds of nasty bacteria.

The tail problem

Mild cases of screw tail can be treated medically or conservatively with proper hygiene & daily cleaning.

Unfortunately, despite Yoda’s family vet’s and his owner’ best efforts, nothing helped.

This is a classic, vicious cycle with no end in sight. Antibiotics didn’t work. Antiseptics didn’t work. Pet wipes didn’t work.

Most of the clients I see for this problem are frustrated after months to years of unsuccessful treatments and impressive veterinary bills.

So what’s the solution?

The only permanent solution is to remove the “screw tail.”

The goal of surgery is to remove the malformed part of the tail and the entire infected skin fold.

The end result: no more dark, moist, warm environment for bacteria to thrive in.

This is a fairly technical and sometimes challenging procedure, which is often performed by a board-certified surgeon.

There are a few risks to be aware of:

. Patients with a flat face (brachycephalic breeds) have a higher risk during anesthesia, so an experienced anesthesia nurse is critical.

. We have to work in a filthy area, both because of the infection in the tail fold and because of the proximity of the anus. We certainly scrub the skin as thoroughly as possible, but there is always a mild risk of infection.

. There is a delicate balance between removing too much skin and not enough. Not enough skin leaves infection behind, so there is potential for complications. Too much skin taken away can lead to difficulty stitching up the skin nicely.

. Fecal incontinence is a complication that is often mentioned, but that is a low risk in the hands of an experienced surgeon.

. After surgery, some patients drag or scoot their hind end, which can result in damage to the incision and poor healing.

The outcome is typically very good with proper postop care.

Yoda did great during his procedure. He recovered smoothly from anesthesia and surgery.

Yoda's healing incision

After 3 weeks of TLC, his owner reported that Yoda was doing well at home.

A healing incision

No more smell, no more itching, no more scooting, no more soreness.

Just pure Bulldog happiness, and a happy, wiggly behind.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

Dr. Phil Zeltzman

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling veterinary surgeon in Pennsylvania & New Jersey. An award-winning author, he loves to share his adventures in practice along with information about vet medicine and surgery that can really help your pets. Dr. Zeltzman specializes in orthopedic, neurologic, cancer, and soft tissue surgeries for dogs, cats, and small exotics. By working with local family vets, he offers the best surgical care, safest anesthesia, and utmost pain management to all his patients. Sign up to get an email when he updates his blog, and follow him on Facebook, too!