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Why Do Dogs Drag Their Butts on the Floor (Scooting)? The Causes & What to Do

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Why Do Dogs Drag Their Butts on the Floor (Scooting)? The Causes & What to Do

Posted by Julianne Macaraeg on
Updated at: October 07, 2020

Many dog owners are familiar with the strange little dance dogs sometimes do. It can appear comical, with the dog resting on its posterior and pulling itself forward in a sitting position. This movement, known as scooting, may look funny, but it's a sign that the dog is in discomfort.

So why do dogs drag their butts on the floor? The answer can range from allergies to anal sac issues to parasites, and as you'd expect, it's not a very pleasant topic. 

The good news is that dog scooting is usually quite easy to remedy. Sometimes, you can even sort it out at home. However, if you have concerns, it's never a bad idea to contact your veterinarian.

Below, we look at common causes of scooting, treating a dog's anal gland issues, and general suggestions for pet health to prevent the issue from reoccurring.

Common Reasons Why Dogs Drag Their Butts Across the Floor (Scooting)?

Anal Sac Issues

Why Is My Dog Dragging Its Bottom | Innovet Pet

Nobody is happy to hear or say these words, but it's one of the most common reasons for scooting. If the glands in the anal sacs aren't discharging, the fluid inside can solidify, which is irritating for the dog. This condition can become complicated further by infection if left untreated.

This fluid is the foul-smelling part of the job that may serve as a marker to other dogs. Typically, when the dog poops, the solid mass 'triggers' the discharge from the anal sacs. Sometimes, if a dog's poop is fluid or too soft, though, the sacs don't get triggered, which leads to build-up.

You can often tell by looking if your dog has anal gland issues. Sometimes, the anal sacs get very swollen. Additionally, if your dog passes blood when it poops, it's time to take it to your veterinarian. The vet can either express the build-up (a nice way of saying 'squeeze it out') or treat the dog with antibiotics if there's an infection.

Build-Up Around the Dog's Anus

Especially with long-haired dogs, sometimes fecal matter and other materials can build up in the hair around the dog's anus. This build-up can cause matting and be irritating to the animal. If you don't clean the area regularly, it can lead to infection as the anus gets exposed to old poop.

This best prevention is to bathe long-haired dogs routinely. Good pet health is easy to maintain by making sure the area around the anus is clean. If your dog has long hair, it can also be an idea to keep that area trimmed to prevent matting. 

Unnecessary Expression of the Anal Glands

If your dog sees a groomer regularly, it's possible that its anal glands have expressed more than they need. This treatment was once a standard part of grooming, but we have since discovered that the anal sacs can become damaged if expressed unnecessarily.

The anal sacs will function by themselves, and while they can encounter problems, they don't need constant touching and pressure. Groomers are often the first to notice issues like congested anal sacs and usually only express them if it's right.

If you or your vet notices that the glands have become damaged or inflamed, it might be worth having a word with your groomer to make sure they're not expressing the anal sacs without good reason.

Allergies and Diet

Just like with humans, allergies can cause itching and irritation to dogs. Sometimes, dogs drag their butts over the floor as a result of an allergic reaction.

Some allergies are easier to identify, such as foods, but if a dog is allergic to pollen or mold spores, it can be harder to diagnose. Talk to your vet if you think your dog may have allergies.

Diet is also essential. If a dog isn't getting enough fiber in its diet, this can make the poop runny. As mentioned above, this means the anal sacs won't become triggered when the dog does its business, leading to build-up. Plain, sliced-up pumpkin, is a popular addition to a dog's diet to increase fiber intake.

Cuts and Irritation

Dogs can be sensitive to products used by groomers, such as perfumes. If your dog gets trimmed regularly, it's also possible to pick up a small cut during the process.

Check for tiny nicks on your dog's skin. If there are any around the anus, it could be the reason for the dog scooting. Cuts near the anus can also become infected if exposed to fecal matter, in which it should be cleaned and taken to the vet.

Probiotic Chews for dogs

Tapeworm and Other Parasites

Intestinal parasites are another thing nobody likes thinking about, but which may affect your dog. Tapeworms can irritate the dog's anus and get into the body when it ingests a flea carrying a larval tapeworm.

Aside from scooting, little worm segments appearing in your dog's feces or around the anus are a sign of tapeworm. You should take your dog to your vet immediately if you notice worms.

Note that pinworms, which are a common infection in children, do not affect dogs. This common misconception is something that your veterinarian will be happy to explain to you if you're anxious.

How to Treat Dog Scooting Naturally

You can treat some causes of scooting at home if you know what you're doing. Learning about this can save you time and money, helping you take care of your dog. 

There are a few options for treating scooting naturally, depending on the cause: 

  • Bathing your dog
  • Change in diet
  • Expression of anal glands
  • Pain alleviation

Bathing Your Dog

Keeping your dog clean doesn't just help with bad smells around the house. It's also good practice for pet health and can help prevent problems that lead to scooting.

When you bathe your dog, pay extra attention to the area around the anus. This area is one of the most prone to getting dirty and infected. This diligence is especially critical for long-haired dogs.

If a dog has a build-up of matted excrement near the anus, it rubs off on the carpet when dogs drag their butts across the floor. Nobody wants that.

Change in Diet

Adding more fiber to your dog's diet will help it pass solid, healthy stools. Make sure your dog is getting multiple types of protein and enough of it.

Too much grain can also be detrimental to your pet's digestion. If you feed your dog products containing wheat, soy, or rice, it might be a good idea to look for alternatives if the dog is scooting.

Expression of Anal Glands

It's not much fun, but you can do this at home. Warning: the smell that comes out of anal sacs is extremely unpleasant. If you're unsure about expressing your dog's anal glands, you could ask your vet to show you.

Remember also that expressing the glands when it's unnecessary can lead to further issues for the dog.

Pain Alleviation

Dogs don't drag their butts around for fun and to mess up your carpet - it means that they're in pain. If you're concerned about pain before treatment is available, options such as CBD for dogs can help your pet deal with irritation.

When Should You See a Vet?

When To See A Vet: Dog Scooting | Innovet Pet

If you're ever unsure what's wrong with your pet, seeing a vet always comes recommended. Dogs scoot for a variety of reasons. While some common causes of scooting can be easy to identify and treat at home, infections and parasites are something you should take to a professional.

Anal sacs are sensitive and prone to infection. They can also become damaged or weakened by problems with diet or exposure to more pressure than is necessary. If you're worried about your pet's anal sacs, take it to a vet if you don't know what to do yourself.

As mentioned above, expressing anal glands isn't a pleasant task. If you find it off-putting, it's probably a good idea to have your vet take care of the job, as it needs to be done correctly for the animal's sake.

Conclusion

So why do dogs drag their butts on the floor, in the end? Understanding why dogs scoot is vital for getting the treatment right. Remember that it may just be an innocent itch if it only happens once or twice - nothing to concern you. If the problem repeats itself regularly, it's time to take action.

Being comfortable with the fact that your dog's anus is vulnerable to infection is essential. It could help save your dog a lot of distress, even though it's not something anyone likes to manage. Keep an eye out for causes of scooting will save you from asking why do dogs drag their butts on the floor further down the line!

Sources:

Novel Fiber-rich Supplement Effective for Prevention and Treatment of Acute, Episodic and Chronic Anal Gland Disease in Dogs and Cats
Diet and anal-sac impaction in dogs
Anal sacs: a new approach to an old problem?
Anal gland impaction in dogs: treatment & prevention

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