If you’ve ever caught your dog rubbing their butt on the ground, you might find yourself wondering if it’s a sign of something more sinister. The good news is that dog scooting, particularly dog scooting on carpet, doesn’t always require an immediate trip to the vet. Indeed, there are many things you can do at home when you catch your dog scooting.
So, if you’re wondering why dogs drag their butts on the floor and what you can do about it, this is the article for you. Below, we’ll discuss the main causes of itchy dog butt and what you can do about each one, as well as the range of symptoms you can expect to find around each cause.
Why Do Dogs Scoot?
While sometimes, you might find your dog scooting purely because they have an itchy behind, other reasons can vary wildly. Luckily, most of the reasons for your dog rubbing butt on ground can be easily rectified with a little check-up from yourself, alongside the right medication or action. That said, dog scooting is almost always caused by an irritation around their anus and, if you’re particularly concerned, a quick call to your vet will never go amiss.
- Anal Sac Glands
Anal glands are present in both female and male dogs, and their job is to help your pup to communicate with other animals by releasing smells. They do this by releasing a liquid every time your dog poops. Unfortunately, they can be prone to blockages.
When this happens, it’s likely that your dog will scoot along the floor and you may also notice them licking their rear ends more regularly than usual. If they only do this a few times, before stopping, then it’s likely that they have been able to shift the blockage themselves through excretion or manually releasing the blockage through their scooting and licking. However, once blocked, it is unlikely that they can resolve the issues themselves.
In these cases, a manual expression of the anal glands is essential, because blocked glands can lead to infection, as well as swelling and fevers. While some groomers will offer the service of manually expressing the anal glands during a full groom, others may prefer that you head to your vet once the anal sac glands have become blocked.
Worms are one of the most common and well-known causes of dog scooting on carpet. There are three types of worm that regularly affect your dog, these being the roundworm, tapeworm and lungworm. While lungworm and roundworm can be very serious conditions, the most common and the most likely to cause rectal itching is the tapeworm.
Tapeworms are long, flat parasites that live in the small intestine. However, from time to time, they can break off and make their way through the anus, causing itching as the leave the body. Segments are also shed through excretions, so you might notice small pieces in the feces of your dog, if they are suffering from tapeworm.
Tapeworm is passed through ingesting undercooked meat, grooming another pet or simply through accidentally ingesting fleas, the latter of which is the most common cause of tapeworm. They can grow up to 28 inches in length and cause stomach upset until the parasite is purged. Luckily, treatment for tapeworm and fleas is extremely effective and simply to administer. You can purchase this over the counter at most pet shops or through your local vet.
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- Fecal Contamination
Fecal contamination is simply a fancy way of saying that your dog may be struggling with remnants of poop in the fur around their anus and around the anus itself. After suffering from a bout of diarrhea or some constipation, you might find some feces has become matted around this area and it’s this can cause itching and irritation for your pup.
This problem can usually be quickly resolved with a simple clean-up using hot water and a soft cloth. You can also request that your dog groomer carefully cut the fur around this area, to stop the issue from arising, again.
- Rectal Prolapse
A rectal prolapse can be easily cured but can also quickly become more serious if not resolved in a timely manner. The prolapse itself simply refers to an interior part of the anus – the final part of the large intestine – protruding through to the outside of the sphincter. You can usually see a small, cylindrical extrusion through the anus in these cases, which is the most telling sign after dog scooting and your dog licking around the area.
As the causes of a rectal prolapse can differ in severity, you should always call your vet for these cases. While rare, they can be a sign of problems along the digestive tract and treatment can range from a change in diet or stool softening medication through the surgery.
Like any wound, an open sore around the anus can become itchy during the healing process. If your dog has recently had a surgery around the area, it’s likely that they will be sore and may want to scratch at the area while it heals. In these cases, it’s important to try to distract your dog from scratching and scooting, as this can lead to further issues.
Similarly, you might notice your dog scooting if they have recently suffered from a bout of constipation. Sometimes, constipation can lead to small grazing across the area, which can become itchy and lead to dog scooting. If you notice this happening frequently, seek advice from your vet about stool softeners and changing your dog’s diet to better suit their digestive needs.
Although rare, tumors can become itchy and sore – whether they are benign or malignant. If your dog is scooting across the carpet and you can’t see any tangible evidence as to why then it’s important to seek out further advice from your vet. They will be able to run the necessary tests to rule out anything sinister and put your mind at ease.
Symptoms of Blocked Anal Sac Glands
If you notice a foul smell emanating from your dog’s rear end, have noticed sudden itching and scooting, alongside your pup biting and licking their rear end regularly, then you should contact your vet or local groomer. The good news is that, once expressed, the blockage is usually relieved quickly and your dog should be back to their usual, happy selves very quickly.
Do be aware that smaller breeds are more prone to anal gland problems, although large breed dogs can still suffer from time to time. Chihuahuas, miniature and toy poodles, as well as Lhasa Apsos, are the most common breeds for anal gland problems.
While some scooting may still occur shortly after your dog has had their anal glands expressed, this will usually stop within a few days. If the scooting still occurs after three days, seek further advice from your vet.
Symptoms of Dog with Worms
As well as being the most common cause of your dog’s itchy butt, tapeworm are also the most easily spotted and rectified. You can usually spot worms long before your dog begins scooting across the floor, as you might notice what appear to be small grains of rice across your floor and in their feces. This is actually smaller, broken-off parts of the tapeworm and a big sign that your canine companion has a parasite.
Again, dogs suffering from worms will also be prone to licking and biting their anus, which is another symptom that your pooch may be struggling with this parasite. The good news is that, within a few days of having their medication, all of these symptoms will stop, and your dog will soon be back to full health.
Can Dogs Pass Worms to Humans?
While very rare, dogs can pass worms to humans through a range of means. Unfortunately, as these parasites are not used to the human body, there is the added risk of the worms ending up in a different area of the body and causing us to become very ill. This is why it is essential to get yourself checked out if you are concerned about any symptoms you might have – especially if these are present in children and your dog has recently had worms.
Tapeworms, roundworms and other parasites are commonly spread through your dog’s feces. This is why it is so important to thoroughly wash your hands before and after picking up your dog’s poop. Symptoms of infection from canine parasites can vary greatly, depending on where the worm has moved to. So, if a roundworm has moved to an eye, blindness can occur rapidly while a parasite in the lung can create similar symptoms to asthma.
Even if you don’t own a dog, you can still get worms by eating undercooked meat, for example and this can cause problems greater than dog scooting. For example, you might find yourself with cysts in the lungs liver, which require immediate removal. Of course, with proper hygiene and regular flea and worming medication for your pets, it is unlikely that you or your family will ever suffer from these parasites.
- Eileen Fatcheric, DVM, Dog Scooting: What You Can Do, Whole Dog Journal
- Samantha Drake, Dog Scooting: What it Means and What to Do, PetMD
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Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.