Necrosis describes the destruction and subsequent death of tissue. In this case the necrosis is occurring on skin of the tip of a dog's tail.
The tail tip first becomes hairless. In addition to hair loss, the skin itself may already be bloody or brittle. In later stages, the skin on the tail-tip turns black and may exude a foul smell. Affected dogs scratch and bite at their tail vigorously. A dangerous, critical complication of this condition is septicemia. In this case, the overall health of the dog will invariably be impaired, and body temperature often increases.
Constant beating of the tail against objects, and/or infestation with bacteria often results in injury to the skin. These injuries harm the dog’s tissue and can lead to necrosis.
If the tissue cannot be saved, the necrotic part of the tail will have to be amputated. Antibiotics need to be administered concurrently for an extended period of time, even after the operation is complete.
Generally speaking, skin infections are not clinical emergencies. If you have noticed that the skin on your dogs tail-tip is turning black, contact a veterinarian and arrange for an appointment. If you are calling outside of your vet’s hours of operation, you may wait until the next day. If you are concerned and hoping to be safe, you can contact a 24-hour clinic. In the meantime, it is advisable to prevent the animal from scratching at the affected skin, as this may cause further injury and infection. In order to stop your dog’s scratching, you can make a special collar that will prevent your dog from biting or scratching the affected area, or cover the lesion with some gauze.