You’re enjoying a relaxing evening when your dog comes in, plops his butt on the floor, and starts dragging it across the carpet. Gross! Why is he scooting, and what can you do about it?
In my clinic, we’d get occasional calls from owners because their pup started scooting. For first-time pet parents, this behavior can be alarming.
So, whenever I had a call from a hysterical client, I would take time to explain various reasons that dogs drag their bottoms across the floor. Then I provided them with recommendations about how to help their furbabies.
In this article, we’ll provide 8 common reasons for butt scooting and offer some helpful home remedies you can try to help relieve your pal’s discomfort. Because the behavior sometimes points to a more serious condition, we’ll also explain when you should contact your veterinarian for help.
Let’s dive in.
8 Reasons Your Dog Might Be Scooting
You should take notice when your pooch scoots his but along the floor. While it’s usually not an emergency, it’s definitely not normal. There are several possible explanations for your dog’s scooting.
Clogged or impacted anal glands
One of the most common reasons for scooting in dogs is an anal gland impaction. These glands on either side of the anus contain an oily substance that helps lubricate the poop. In some dogs, the sacs tend to fill and swell shut. As the pouches fill up, your dog begins to feel uncomfortable and may start scooting to find relief.
Anal gland abscess
Left untreated, anal glands can become infected and develop abscesses. If your dog seems uncomfortable and you notice a swollen, red lump beside your dog’s anus, you may be dealing with an abscess. Abscesses often require veterinary attention to prevent rupture and damage to the anus and rectum.
Some internal parasites, like tapeworms and whipworms, can cause your pal’s butt to itch resulting in his scooting. You may notice other symptoms like a pot belly or diarrhea. However, dogs with internal parasites often have subtle signs like scooting or show no symptoms at all.
Constipation in dogs happens when your pooch isn’t producing regular, normal poops. When this happens, you may notice him straining to defecate or producing hard stools. Sometimes, the fecal matter compacts in the colon. Either way, the hard feces and straining cause discomfort that may prompt scooting in your dog.
There are several possible causes of diarrhea in dogs including intestinal parasites, food allergies or sensitivities, and infections. With a runny or watery stool, there can be moisture or fecal residue around the anus causing inflammation and itching. Naturally, your dog will start scooting to help relieve the irritation.
Allergies can make your dog itchy all over the body including around his butt. Whether you’re dealing with an environmental reaction, flea bite allergies, or food sensitivity, you may see your dog scooting to deal with irritation around the anus. If you notice your pooch has red, irritated skin and is scratching along with the scooting, he may be dealing with an allergy.
Irritation around the anus can cause your pooch to scoot. Sometimes, this is a result of grooming practices. If your groomer clips around the anus and gets too close to the skin, it can cause a skin reaction. Additionally, some groomers may express your pup’s anal glands as a standard service. While this used to be common, it’s not necessary and may cause irritation or damage to the anal glands.
Urinary tract infection
Although a less common cause of butt scooting, urinary tract infections(UTI) may prompt the behavior, particularly in females. That’s because dogs with a UTI may feel a burning sensation during urination. So they scoot to scratch the itch.
Depending on the reason your dog is scooting, there usually are some things you can do at home to help him find relief. In some cases, you’ll need to contact your veterinarian to treat the underlying cause.
For Anal Gland Impaction, Feed More Fiber
One way to help encourage healthy anal gland emptying is by feeding your pooch more fiber. Increased soluble fiber adds bulk to the stool. When firm poop passes through the rectum and anus, it massages the anal sacs and causes them to express the oily liquid. You can add fiber to your dog’s diet by feeding him some pumpkin. Depending on Fido’s size and weight, add 1-3 tablespoons of canned, unsweetened pumpkin(not pie mix) or fresh, steamed pumpkin to his food.
For Anal Gland Abscesses, Try a Warm Compress
If your pup has an abscess, you should contact your veterinarian to help drain the pus and treat the problem. However, if your pup is in pain, you’ll still want to do something to relieve his discomfort until he’s able to see the doctor. You can make a warm compress:
- Soak a clean cloth in a solution of warm water and Epsom salt
- Wring most of the liquid out
- Gently hold the compress on your dog’s bottom for about 5 minutes to soothe the affected area.
- Repeat as needed.
For Parasites, Feed Your Dog Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds have a reputation as a natural anthelmintic. They contain an amino acid called cucurbitacin, which paralyzes roundworms and tapeworms. As a result, the parasites can’t attach to your dog’s intestinal tract, and they get pooped out. To feed pumpkin seeds to your dog, grind a bunch of seeds to a fine powder. Add about ¼ teaspoon of powder per 10 pounds of body weight to your pup’s food twice a day until the worms are gone.
For Constipation, Give Your Dog Lots of Water
When a dog is constipated, it means the fecal matter doesn’t have enough moisture. It’s a common problem with pups that eat dry kibble all the time. You can help encourage normal stools by making your furbaby ingest more water. Add liquid to the kibble to increase his intake. You can also feed canned food or a mixture of dry and wet food. If your pup is reluctant to drink, try adding some unseasoned, low-sodium beef or chicken broth to his water to make it more palatable.
For Diarrhea, Supplement With Probiotics
When dogs have diarrhea, their gastrointestinal system is inflamed and hypermotile. Probiotics help to soothe and reset the gut. You can choose a natural supplement with probiotics and other helpful substances like fiber and digestive enzymes to help encourage healthy digestion and firmer poops. Another option is to feed your pooch plain, unsweetened yogurt with active cultures to his food. Just make sure he can tolerate lactose.
For Allergies, Supplement With Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids support healthy skin and coat. They also have anti-inflammatory effects that can help to reduce itching. If your pup suffers from allergies, talk to your veterinarian to pinpoint and treat the underlying cause. At the same time, supplement his diet with omega-3 fatty acids from salmon oil or another natural source of omega fatty acids.
For General Irritation, Clean Your Dog’s Butt Regularly
Sometimes dogs scoot because they have an itchy butt. This is usually due to loose stools and fecal residue around the anus. You can help relieve irritation and itching by washing your pal’s bottom with a little mild soap and water or cleaning the area with a hypoallergenic pet wipe. By removing the organic materials, you’ll reduce your pup’s need to itch.
For Urinary Tract Infection, Add Apple Cider Vinegar to the Water
Apple cider vinegar acidifies the urine to help prevent UTIs. You can use this substance to treat a UTI in your pooch by adding it to fresh water twice a day. For smaller dogs, add about 1 teaspoon to a gallon of water. Larger breeds can have a dose of 1-2 tablespoons per gallon of water.
When Should I See a Vet?
If your pooch is scooting, the first thing you should do is examine the area around the anus. Gently lift her tail and observe the region. If you notice signs of swelling, parasites, or a strong odor, contact your vet to schedule an exam. Additionally, you should talk to your dog’s doctor if Fido scoots several times a day or if the activity persists for more than a few days.
Dogs can start scooting for various reasons. Usually, anal gland impactions trigger the behaviors, but there may also be an abscess or other causes. You can treat some conditions at home, but if the scooting persists or if you observe signs like swelling, parasites, or a strong odor, you should contact your veterinarian.
There are many home remedies that can help to stop or prevent scooting. What you do may depend on the underlying cause of your dog’s behavior. It’s generally helpful to add fiber to the diet and supplement with probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids. Other things you may consider include washing your dog’s butt, encouraging increased water intake, and warm compresses.