What is Scooting?
Even though scooting is not usually an emergency, it is certainly not a common dog behavior so it is important to find out why your pet is doing it. Check under your dog’s tail for signs of redness, swelling, fecal matter, blood, or any other abnormal problems. If there is no sign of irritation, the problem may be itching or constipation and you should call your veterinarian to make an appointment.
If your dog is scooting his butt on the floor, this is a sign that something is wrong. He may be itching, in pain, or he may be constipated. You may think it is just a behavioral issue, but your dog is trying to tell you something. Actually, there are many reasons why your dog would be scooting such as worms, anal gland disorders, injury, tumor, and much more. It is important that you find out the reason why your dog is scooting because some of the conditions can be serious and he is obviously uncomfortable.
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Symptoms of Scooting in Dogs
The signs of scooting in dogs is (of course) scooting, but there are also signs that your dog has been scooting even if you have not witnessed it yet.
- Biting or licking affected area
- Matted fur in anal area
- Foul odor from the affected area
- Worms or white specks in anal area
- Scooting rear end on the floor, carpet, or ground
Impacted anal sacs is an uncomfortable condition that may become dangerous if it gets infected or abscessed. The anal glands on both sides of the anus can become swollen shut, building into a thick pasty material that cannot pass. They will continue to swell until they burst and cause infection that spreads into the body if not treated.
Other reasons for scooting may be:
- Worms can cause an itchy or uncomfortable anus, making your dog scoot on the floor to try and relieve the problem; there are four common worms in dogs which include roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms
- Constipation can be caused by many things including not enough fiber, enlarged prostate, lack of exercise, ingesting foreign objects, tumors, trauma, medication side effect, and dehydration
- Diarrhea is runny or watery stool that may be caused by worms, infections, diet, stress, and allergies
- Tumors in the anal area include anal sac adenocarcinoma, perianal tumor, or skin tumor
Causes of Scooting in Dogs
There are many possible causes of scooting but the most common include:
- Anal sac impaction
- Diarrhea or constipation
Diagnosis of Scooting in Dogs
Irregardless of the cause, ignoring the problem will not make it go away. In fact, whatever the issue, it is likely to get worse. Although it is extremely rare, in some cases ignoring the scooting can be very dangerous for your pet if it ends up being a cancerous tumor. A quick trip to the veterinarian’s office can help solve the problem with minimal stress on your dog (and yourself). Once you give the veterinarian your dog’s medical history and immunization records, be sure to mention if you have given him any kind of medication (prescription or over the counter) because it can affect the diagnosis and treatment. The veterinarian will check your dog’s overall health, vital signs, and behavior before doing a thorough examination of the anal area.
Palpation and rectal examination will be done and a stool sample will be taken for microscopic evaluation. This will be checked for bacteria, fungi, worms, parasites, and other anomalies. If the anal sacs are impacted, the veterinarian will express the sacs and take a sample to be microscopically examined. An ultrasound of the area will be done to examine the anal sacs and if any masses are found, a sample will be taken for biopsy. Routine blood tests will be performed and the veterinarian may get some more radiographs (x-rays) and CT scans if necessary.
Treatment of Scooting in Dogs
The treatment for scooting depends on the cause. Anal gland expression, medication, and even surgery may be needed for some conditions such as tumors.
Anal Gland Expression
To express the anal glands, the veterinarian will just apply pressure to both sides of the anal opening on the outside of each anal gland. Pushing in and upward should cause the material to come out of the sacs.
If there is an infection, the vet will give your dog an antibiotic injection and may send you home with a prescription for pain medicine. A diet with more fiber will likely be recommended to prevent a recurrence. Medication for worms depends on which type of worm your dog has.
The veterinarian may do the surgery to remove the tumor or you may be sent to a veterinary surgeon or pathologist. It is a safe surgery with few risks. If the tumor is malignant (cancerous), your dog may need radiation or chemotherapy as well.
Recovery of Scooting in Dogs
Your dog’s prognosis is good, but the scooting may return if the problem returns. Anal gland impaction can become chronic and your veterinarian may recommend removal of the glands to stop the problem. If your dog has worms, be sure to follow the instructions for the medication and check for worms in the fecal matter for several weeks. If you have questions, call your veterinarian.
Scooting Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Rescued my dog two months ago. when i first met, before adopting, I noticed he scooted only once in the 1.5 hour I was with him. The person from the organization said he had just been groomed a week before and his anal glands were emptied and she thought the scooting was his fur growing back as when he was groomed the groomer did a sanitary trim around is bum. two weeks later I took him to the vet to make sure he was healthy and I mentioned the scooting and what the person from the organization had said. The vet took my dog to a different room to inspect his bum, he came back and said his glands were empty. I know what worms look like as I owned a dog that did get worms and I know what to look for. I trimmed my dogs fur around his bum so I could get a better look and I do not see worms, fleas, redness, swelling, and no odor. I clean his bum (anus) after he poops with a damp towel. He does scratch, chew, and licks body and paws a lot since I adopted him. He has dandruff/flakes too. I brush him once a day and have not seen fleas. Is there anything over the counter to give him for allergies or do I need to take him back to his vet?
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Max is a 141# 8 year old Golden Retriever. Max and I are inseperable. The only time we are not together is if it's hot and I have to go to the store. Max has been scooting on the grass on and off ( not much) but when he does this he really goes to town. He does not appear to be in pain. He gets around fine, he is not constipated, I did not find anything in his stool. But I'll keep looking. he is 141" so hard to tell if he has a pot belly but it is fatty on each side of his penis, he also has a lump that has grown in the last few months but it moves around and does not appear to be attached to anything. I love this guy with all my heart and really don't know what I'd do if anything happened to him. Thank you for your time Bonnie
From your description of the symptoms, I would be more concerned with the increase in drinking and urination as well as his pot belly all of which could be indicators for Cushing’s Disease (links provided below). The scooting may be caused by anal gland issues (which may also be linked to Cushing’s Disease), parasites (you may not see them but it is good practice to administer regular spot on treatments and anthelmintics), infections, anal trauma (from biting) and other causes. I would recommend you visit your Veterinarian to examine Max and to check him for Cushing’s Disease. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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Is there something I can give my dog from the pet store for scooting on the carpet. She does not have a fowl smell coming from her bottom, it just a little red. I notice yesterday she was having a hard time having a bowel movement. I'm a older lady on a very fixed income and I can't take her to the vet. She has had all her shots, and her monthly flee/tick heart medication. Please advice if I can get something from petco or can I give her some of my benefiber. Thank you.
Scooting more often than not is caused by the anal glands when they are impacted which need to be expressed by a Veterinarian, Vet Tech or some Groomers will do it also; if the problem is impaction of the anal glands, they would need to be manually expressed. If there is irritation due to constipation and difficulties when defecating, some plain canned pumpkin may help to increase the fibre content and improve defecation. Parasites, infections and trauma can also cause a dog to scoot as well. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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