Why is My Dog Scooting?

pug laying down on rug looking sad

Scooting is among the most embarrassing things that dogs can do. However, they don’t rub their bottom across the floor to make you feel awkward in front of your friends. Instead, scooting is a dog’s way to communicate that something’s bothering him/her. It is important to educate ourselves about the causes of perianal irritation to solve this problem.

Why Do Dogs Scoot Their Butts on the Floor?

There are many reasons that could be responsible for this unusual behavior, ranging from inflammation to worms. Some of the most common causes that lead to dog scooting are discussed below.

Anal Sac Issues

Human gloved hand holding up dachshund's tail to examine anal glands on white background.

The anal sacs are two small scent glands that are attached internally on either side of a dog’s butt. They secrete a substance that has a unique identifying smell. This is the reason why dogs smell each other’s bottom when greeting. Any problem with these anal sacs can be quite disturbing for your pooches and scooting helps them to relieve irritation.

Over-full Anal Sacs

In normal circumstances, the bowel movements of your canine squeeze these glands to express the secretion. However, if the secretion is unable to leave the glands due to a blockage in the transferring duct, these sacs cannot be emptied.

Consequently, the smelly substance continues to accumulate in the anal glands and they stretch like a balloon. This results in an extremely uncomfortable condition (called impaction) that forces the dog to scoot.

Infected Anal Glands

butt end of dog laying on carpet

This is another common problem that can lead to scooting. Initially, these infections cause nothing more than an irritation, but they can become increasingly painful if left untreated. Some of the common symptoms of an anal gland infection are listed below.

  • Lethargy because the dog is in pain
  • Continuous rubbing or licking at the infected area
  • Bloody discharge from the glands

Injury to Anal Sacs

These kinds of injuries usually happen to those dogs who need a repeated manual expression of their anal glands. These sacs are quite delicate and can experience tissue damage when they are squeezed. This gives way to inflammation that prevents them from functionally properly.

In extreme cases, the anal glands might lose the necessary muscle tone that is needed for natural expression.   

Anal Gland Tumors

Contact your vet immediately if you find any swelling, distortion, or protrusion in the anal sac. This is because these tumors grow quietly until the duct of the sac is blocked. Consequently, any negligence in handling these tumors can prove extremely dangerous for the well being of your pet.

Skin Infections

dog biting and scratching it's butt

Bacterial and fungal skin infections are also a major cause of itching and irritation in your dog’s butt. Female dogs are more prone to fungal infections in their perivulvar area. The symptoms of these infections are quite similar to that of anal sac problems. Similarly, urinary tract infection (UTI) can also make your dog scoot his bottom across the floor.

Food Allergies

golden retriever eating from food bowl on brick surface.

A nutritionally-imbalanced diet is another reason that can lead to dog scooting. For example, if the dog food doesn’t have sufficient fiber in it, the stool will not be firm. Consequently, the bowel movements will not be able to apply enough pressure on the anal glands to express them.

Likewise, if your pup is allergic to a particular ingredient, the remains of that food will also cause perianal irritation. They do so by inflaming the skin and mucus membrane around the anus.  

Diarrhea

dog pooping in yard

Diarrhea can make your scoot for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it damages the delicate mucus membrane and skin of the anus to cause inflammation. Because they can’t reach there to scratch, dogs try to relive the discomfort by scooting their butts on the floor. On the other hand, the watery stool can’t express the anal sacs to release the smelly substance.

Fecal Contamination

Large fuzzy dog laying in grass

The dog breeds that have long hair are more vulnerable to this problem. Fecal contamination happens when poop sticks to the hair around your dog’s butt. The messy and matted bottom is incredibly irritating for your pup and he/she will begin scooting to find some relief. The best possible solution to avoid fecal contamination is to trim the hair around your canine’s bottom regularly.  

Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites in a glass dish for examination

Although they are not very common, intestinal worms could also be responsible for dog scooting. The most common symptom of worm infection is the presence of tiny, rice-like segments around your dog’s butt. Canines get tapeworms by consuming worm-infested fleas and this problem is generally treated with a simple dose of medication.

Dog Scooting and Not Eating

Brown dog laying down refusing bowl of food.

If the dog food has an ingredient that is causing perianal irritation, the canine can refuse to eat his/her food. The remains of that particular allergen inflame the mucus membrane and soft skin of the anus. Scratching the itchy bottom will worsen the situation even more as an infection can develop.

A simple method to solve this problem is to remove the allergen from your pet’s diet. However, it is highly advisable to consult the vet to ensure that there is no underlying reason for scooting.

Dog Scooting and Not Pooping

schnauzer laying on white sheet as if not feeling well

It is quite common for canines with long hair to get poop stuck in their fur. The possibility of this increases several times if the pooch is suffering from diarrhea. This can cause painful matting on the dog’s rear and he/she tries to find some relief through scooting. In extreme cases, the matting becomes so tight that it prevents the pup from pooping altogether.

The easiest way to prevent this from happening is to keep the hair short around the dog’s butt. Similarly, try to treat diarrhea quickly so that the skin and fur are not soiled.   

Dog Scooting and Vomiting

brown and white dog with head down next to a small pile of vomit.

When a dog regularly suffers from gastrointestinal issues (diarrhea or vomiting), it is quite common to see him/her scooting. The irregular bowel movements fail to express the anal glands and these sacs continue to stretch like a balloon. This blocks the passage of stool and the canine finds itself in an irritating situation.

You can rinse the dog’s butt with weak salt water after each bowel movement to prevent inflammation (and scooting). Likewise, germicidal barrier ointment can also be used for this purpose.    

Dog Scooting and Itching

Itchy allergies are one of the primary causes of butt dragging. Other than seasonal allergies, insect bite reactions are also responsible for these skin irritations. The dogs that require intensive grooming can have an itchy bottom due to the regular use of grooming products. Likewise, tiny cuts and razor burns can also make your pup scoot.  

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Hi! My name is Heather Hallman. I’m the mother of two beautiful girls and a MAJOR passionate pet parent. I can hardly wait to bring you the BEST resources and information that I've found for our fur-babies.