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Dog scooting: why it happens and what to do

We’ve seen it all before. Fido goes from completely normal to dragging his rear along the ground in a split second. Before you can scream “not the carpet!” he’s halfway across the room, sometimes leaving an unpleasant trail. ‘Scooting’, also known as ‘dragging’ or ‘rubbing’, is a behaviour performed by dogs in an attempt to relieve irritation in the anal region by dragging their bottoms across the floor. There are several reasons why dogs may be irritated in this region.

Full or impacted anal glands

Dogs have two sacs which sit on either side of the rectum called the anal glands. These glands normally release fluid via small channels into the rectum whenever they defecate. The fluid these glands produce play an important role in scent-marking a dog’s territory. Unfortunately, these channels can become blocked and the glands impacted.

Anal glands become impacted for a number of reasons, including infection, underlying medical conditions, diet, and anatomy. Impacted glands will feel very uncomfortable for a dog, and as a result, they often scoot their anus along the ground in an attempt to relieve the irritation and potentially unblock the gland.

Consult your veterinarians if you notice your dog is scooting regularly. Anal glands should be palpated by veterinarians to detect any underlying infections. Left untreated, impacted anal glands can cause abscesses and even rupture, becoming a much more serious issue.

Tapeworm infection and the importance of regular worming

All dogs should be on a regular worming prevention schedule, however many of the common worming tablets are only effective against roundworms and not tapeworms. Tapeworms are a different kind of intestinal worm and are usually spread by fleas. Irritation around the anus can be caused by tapeworms because the small segments produced by the worms are sticky and can remain around the anus. Tapeworms can be prevented by using a worming product which is labelled to be effective against both roundworms and tapeworms, as well as using flea preventatives on your dog.

Your dog could have a skin allergy

  Allergies can cause irritation and inflammation in all areas of a dog, including the skin around the anus and tail. If a dog is itchy in this region, the only way they can scratch that itch is to scoot or chew the area. Skin allergies require a veterinarian’s diagnosis and treatment plan, as there are many causes of skin allergies in dogs, including diet.

As you can see, there are several reasons why a dog may scoot it’s behind along your carpet. Although unpleasant, it can indicate a much more serious problem like impacted anal glands or skin allergies. Impacted anal glands, if untreated, can lead to abscesses and ruptured glands. Irritation around the anus is also uncomfortable for your dog, so it’s important to get them some relief. If you are worried about your dog scooting, it’s worthwhile making an appointment with your vet to finally get to the bottom of the problem!