Dogs do some crazy things that cause humans to raise an eyebrow, cringe, and laugh out loud. A doggy behavior that often gets all of these responses is dog scooting. You've probably seen your pup dragging their butt across the ground and wondered, what in the world is that all about?
Dogs scoot across the floor for many reasons, including clogged anal sacs, irritation, or allergies. Scooting can also indicate a more serious issue with the anal sacs or the presence of parasites. If your dog starts scooting, observe them carefully. If frequent, see your vet. Your vet can help determine the cause, express the anal glands, or provide antibiotics, depending on the reason.
If your dog drags their butt across the floor once or twice, it’s probably nothing to worry about. But something's up if your pooch regularly scoots and slides around on their bottom. Knowing the possibilities and what to look out for is essential so you can get to the vet when necessary.
Why Do Dogs Drag Their Bottoms?
Your dog doesn’t just scoot around on their butt for fun. There are reasons for this odd and often embarrassing behavior (like when they drag their butt over your in-laws’ new rug).
If you spot your dog scooting across the floor, it could be for several reasons, some common, some not.
1. Anal Sac Issues
Dogs have two anal sacs that release a liquid when they go number two. The liquid likely acts as a calling card to tell other dogs that your pup was there. Typically, these sacs release the fluid naturally when your dog goes to the bathroom.
However, if they don’t, the liquid can build up. Eventually, this build-up can hinder the anal sacs’ ability to empty themselves. When this happens, it can get very uncomfortable for your dog, leading to scooting as it tries to find relief.
This issue can also lead to a possible infection. If you notice frequent scooting, enlarged anal sacs, or bloody discharge, go to the vet. The vet can express the glands and provide necessary antibiotics or pain meds.
Another possibility is the anal sacs are injured in some way. Sometimes this can happen when an ill-informed groomer expresses the anal glands unnecessarily.
Many groomers often offer this service as part of their packages. However, dogs' anal sacs should be able to function just fine on their own. If you have someone do it manually too often, the sacs essentially will no longer be able to release the liquid independently. This can lead to more frequent build-up, irritation, and inflammation.
2. Irritated Skin
If your dog’s scooting habit seems to happen after a grooming session, it could be due to irritated skin. Little nicks, razor burns, or certain products can lead to bothersome itching and discomfort. Your dog will scoot across the floor in an effort to scratch the itch or ease the pain.
You can check the area to see if there are any nicks. If so, you can use a doggy-safe antibiotic ointment. A warm compress can also help. If you suspect the issue is with the products, ask your groomer to use ones for sensitive skin or bring your own products of choice with you.
3. Intestinal Parasites
Dogs can pick up all sorts of unpleasantries as they dig, explore, and nose around, especially outside and in other doggy-populated areas. If your dog eats a flea with tapeworm larvae, your pooch can end up with tapeworms.
The tapeworms mature in your dog’s stomach and exit via the anus, leading to an itchy bottom. You might not notice the worms, so pay attention to your pup’s behavior. Your vet can do a fecal exam and, If parasites are to blame, can address the problem with a dewormer.
Your dog’s scooting could be indirectly related to their diet. Food intolerance or allergies might cause your pup to have looser or more watery stools. When this happens, it’s possible your dog’s anal sacs can’t express themselves adequately.
Discuss your dog’s diet with your vet to determine if this could be the root cause of your dog’s scooting. If so, your vet might recommend some dietary changes or incorporating things like canned pumpkin into the mix.
5. Perianal Fistula
Perianal Fistula consists of lesions in the tissue surrounding a dog’s anal area. If this is the cause of your canine companion’s scooting, your vet will work with you to set up a treatment plan. It might include specific immunosuppressants, antibiotics, stool softeners, or dietary changes.
Neoplasia is a term that describes tumors that can form in different areas of your dog’s body. Many can be benign, but if one forms near your pup’s anal area, it could lead to scooting. Your vet will examine any growths, lumps, or bumps to determine their nature and how best to remove them.
Is Scooting Bad for Your Dog?
So, is it bad when your dog scoots across the rug? It all depends. If it’s just once or twice, it’s likely nothing to worry about, but keep a watchful eye on your dog. (How bad it is for your rug is another matter, but nothing a good stain and odor remover can’t handle.)
Lift your pup’s tail and take a peek. You might notice a stray twig, leaf, or piece of poop causing your dog’s aggravation. Or, you might see a tiny cut or nick to blame for your dog’s pain.
But, if your dog is frequently scooting, it’s likely something’s not right. Especially if the scooting accompanies behaviors like the frequent licking of the butt, thighs, or groin area or a fishy odor near your pup’s rear end. Or, if your dog is whimpering when they try to go number two, there could be a problem down below.
The scooting movement is your pup’s way of trying to find relief from some underlying issue. Therefore, whatever is causing the scooting could very well be potentially troubling. This is why it’s always important to observe your dog and investigate any possible problems.
Tips to Prevent Dog Scooting
- Choose the right groomer. Your groomer should not express your dog’s glands as part of regular grooming. This can prevent the glands from functioning normally on their own as intended.
- Likewise, don’t attempt to express your pup’s glands unless you’re shown how to by a vet or told to do so.
- Always stay observant and aware of your pet’s behavior. The sooner you can spot changes, the sooner you can address potential problems.
- If your dog has issues with expressing their own anal sacs, talk with your vet. You might need to change your dog’s diet or add more fiber to firm up their stools. Your vet might recommend adding some canned pumpkin or specific supplements to your dog’s dish.
- Ask your vet about using something to help support your pup’s anal sacs. You can use special chews or supplements like Glandex to help keep anal sacs healthy.
- Stay up-to-date on your dog’s parasite prevention medication.
Getting to the Bottom of Things
If your dog is only scooting once or twice, don’t panic. The worst part about it is likely the toll it takes on your rug. But if the scooting is frequent, it’s best to talk to the vet. They can determine what’s going on and get to the bottom (literally) of the matter.
For more helpful info about taking care of your four-legged friends, check out the rest of our blog. Whether you need suggestions for bonding with your pet or getting them to curb some unwanted habits, we’ve got you covered.