What’s in a Wag?

whatsinawag

What are the muscles in a dog’s rear right leg that could be torn and which way does the tail wag if they are happy. I am just curious and a little worried about my dog? Please respond as soon as possible and thank you so much for your time and effort. PG, Connecticut

Dear PG,
Maybe you’re talking about a torn knee ligament or ruptured anterior crucial ligament (ACL), a very common cause of rear limb lameness in dogs? If so, this is a serious condition that should be seen right away by a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment, which may involve surgery.

Now as far as tail wagging, there are some folks who say that a wag is a wag is a wag. “I can tell you a dog wagging its tail in a full circle is a very happy dog” says Penny Lane, a professional dog trainer and educator from Pennsylvania.

However, a team of Italian researchers found that dogs wag to their right side when feeling positive emotions and to their left side when feeling negatively. They claim this bias has to do with which side of the brain processes the information, with positive emotions handled by the brain’s left side and therefore expressed on the dog’s right side while negative emotions are handled by the brain’s right side and expressed on the dog’s left side.

Apparently other dogs can tell which way a tail is being wagged and adjust their approach accordingly to the wagger. Now it’s just up to humans to become better at reading dogs and interpreting their emotions!

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Posted in Canine Ask the Vet

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