This article was updated on March 8th, 2022
Though watching your dog rub his or her bottom across the clean white carpet is highly unpleasant for us pet parents, their behavior is sending an important message: If your dog is scooting, there’s something wrong with their rear end!
Scooting is the name commonly used to describe a dog dragging their bottom along the floor or grass to try to relieve pain or irritation.
Why is My Dog Scooting? The Most Common Reason.
By far, the biggest reason causing dogs to scoot is a problem with their anal glands. The anal glands are two sacs located just inside your dog’s anus. The glands lining these sacs produce a smelly brown liquid that is important for scent marking in dogs.
Healthy anal glands should empty naturally when your pup passes feces, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Some dogs experience problems emptying their anal glands because the drainage ducts become inflamed and blocked. This becomes uncomfortable and is why dogs tend to drag their bottom along the floor – to try and give themselves some relief!
My Dog is Scooting… Should I be Concerned?
Though the occasional scratching of this area may not be any cause for concern, repetitive scooting that lasts longer than 24–48 hours, or is accompanied by signs of illness or pain, is a cause of concern.
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At this point, we recommend you schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. In this article, we will also discuss what you can do at home to help your dog.
This article discusses how scooting is treated, what the most common causes are, and why it’s always important to seek advice from your veterinarian.
4 Most Effective Home Remedies When Your Dog is Scooting
Once your pup has been examined and a diagnosis made, your veterinarian may be able to recommend certain home remedies that may help with anal gland problems. We have outlined below 4 home remedies that can be effective in helping scooting dogs.
1. Express your dog’s anal glands at home
Though many pet parents are uncomfortable with the idea of expressing their dog’s anal glands, others are interested to learn so they can relieve their dog’s discomfort at home and reduce the number of trips to the vet (It’s important to remember, however, that when a veterinarian expresses your dog’s anal glands, they are also checking for infection and any abnormalities in the area).
Before you begin the learning process, it’s important to consider how it might impact your relationship with your dog.
If they are timid or nervous, your pup may prefer to have their glands expressed at home, instead of visiting the veterinary clinic every month. If they are very wriggly or protective of the area and may bite or growl, it may not be safe for either of you to attempt the procedure at home.
If you are ready to learn, check out this great video:
How to express your dog’s anal glands at home (video):
Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you on the pros and cons of expressing your dog’s anal glands at home and to teach you the correct technique. To help create a more positive association for your dog, always be sure to reward them with lots of treats and praise during and after the procedure.
2. Increase dietary fiber in your dog’s diet
High-fiber diets or fiber supplementation are commonly recommended for dogs that experience anal gland problems. The theory is that producing more regular or “well-formed” stools may help the glands express more easily.
Unfortunately, there is limited scientific evidence to prove how effectively this works, but for most dogs, an appropriate amount of dietary fiber is not only safe but can also help with digestive health and weight management.
Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.
Your veterinarian will be able to recommend a high-quality pet food that is high in fiber, or a fiber supplement designed especially for dogs. They may also recommend adding small amounts of sugar-free bran flakes, unflavored psyllium husk, grated carrot, or canned pumpkin (no additional salt, sugar, or spices) to your dog’s diet.
When feeding any “human food” products to your pup, always check with your vet first to make sure there aren’t any toxic ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners, and for the appropriate amount to add to your pup’s diet based on their size.
Pumpkin is a popular ingredient that can be found in dog food meals, supplements, toppers and treats. Simple canned pumpkin is what you should start with. Learn more with our article: Is Pumpkin Truly a Miracle Food For Dogs’ Anal Gland Issues?
Popular Pumpkin Products:
There are numerous pumpkin based supplements and treats which are said to help with anal gland problems. However, in most cases, these treats and supplements don’t really contain enough pumpkin to make a difference.
If your dog just needs a tiny boost in fiber, they may help. For most dogs, while they will enjoy the snacks, there is not enough added pumpkin to make a difference. Obesity is considered to be a predisposing risk factor for anal gland problems, so too many of these treats could actually contribute to a problem if your dog is already chubby. As a result, we recommend using canned pumpkin.
Popuplar pumpkin supplements and treats:
We simply recommend canned pumpkin:
Always consult a vet before changing your dog’s diet, especially if they have an underlying illness, such as diabetes or kidney disease.
3. Probiotics & Digestize Enzymes Can Help
Glandex is a product specifically designed to help with anal gland problems, but it contains a probiotic and digestive enzyme to improve overall gastrointestinal health. A healthy gut will lead to normal stools. The pumpkin fiber is supported with apple pectin:
4. Help Your Dog Lose Weight (If Overweight)
Anal gland issues have been associated with dogs that are overweight, as have other significant health problems such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, and respiratory diseases. So, keeping your dog at a healthy body weight may not only help to improve their anal gland problems if your dog is scooting, but will also have a positive impact on their overall health and well-being.
Your veterinarian will be able to advise you if your pup is overweight and provide a suitable weight-loss plan. Specially formulated weight-loss diets are typically most effective but should be combined with exercise and restricted portions of treats for the best chance of success.
Final words on home remedies: If your dog’s scooting does not improve or if your dog is showing other signs of pain or illness, it is important that your pup receives veterinary attention as soon as possible.
Will My Dog’s Scooting Go Away on Its Own?
Your dog’s scooting may indeed go away on its own, and the natural remedies outlined above may very well be your solution. However, if your dog is scooting repetitively for more than 24 or 48 hours, or if your dog shows other signs of illness, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your vet.
Failure to properly diagnose the issue could have significant consequences for your dog (for example, it could result in a new painful anal gland abscess or a tumor left undiagnosed). Scooting means that your dog has a problem in the back end, so it’s important that your veterinarian identifies the correct underlying cause.
How Much Does it Cost to Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands?
Many clinics will schedule anal gland expression as a “tech appointment” if your dog is a regular. That keeps the cost down. Expect to pay $25 to $45. Groomers often will include anal gland emptying as part of their services – there may be an extra fee, however. This fee will typically range from $15 to $30.
When a Scooting Dog Needs a Vet
Your dog’s repetitive scooting behavior is a sign that there is a problem with their rear end and warrants a visit to a veterinarian so the problem can be correctly diagnosed and treated. Failure to do so could have significant consequences for your dog’s health, such as the development of a painful anal gland abscess or a tumor left undiagnosed in its early stages.
If your dog is in pain, unwell in themselves, or there is an open wound, it’s even more important that they are seen by a vet as soon as possible.
Your vet will begin by taking a medical history and performing a thorough physical examination. If your dog is in pain or stressed, your vet may recommend sedating them to examine the area properly. From here, your vet will recommend an appropriate treatment plan that will vary depending on the problem diagnosed.
For example, regular manual expression is a common treatment for blocked anal glands, along with fiber supplementation. However, additional pain relief, flushing, and the use of antibiotics may be required if the gland has become infected or an abscess forms. Skin irritation may be treated with allergy medications, anti-inflammatory creams, topical treatments, and flea prevention, depending on the underlying trigger. Less commonly, surgery may be required if there is a mass or tumor present in the area. So, as you can see, the successful treatment of your dog’s scooting depends on correctly diagnosing the underlying cause for this behavior.
Why is My Dog Scooting? The 4 Most Common Reasons
Dogs typically scoot to help relieve an itchy, irritated, or uncomfortable bottom. For this reason, scooting shouldn’t be considered a normal or harmless behavior – it’s usually an indication that something isn’t quite right! Top reasons for scooting in dogs include:
1. Anal gland (anal sac) problems
This is by far the most common reason for scooting in dogs. In fact, a recent UK study suggested that anal gland problems affect 4.4% of dogs, with small breeds like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shih-Tzu, and Cockapoo at increased risk.1 The anal glands are two sacs located just inside your dog’s anus, at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions when looking directly at your dog’s bottom. The glands lining these sacs produce a smelly brown liquid that is important for scent marking in dogs.
Healthy anal glands should empty naturally when your pup passes feces, but this isn’t always the case. Dogs can experience problems emptying their anal glands because the drainage ducts become inflamed and blocked. Though we still don’t fully understand why this happens to certain dogs, potential contributing factors may include skin allergies, being overweight, and chronic diarrhea. And though there seems to be an increased prevalence in certain breeds, dogs of any breed may experience anal gland problems.
Signs of anal gland issues in dogs include:
- Swelling or redness around the anus (bottom)
- Excessive licking of the bottom or biting at the base of the tail
- Increased sensitivity, growling, or guarding their rear end
- A foul “fishy” odor
- Straining or difficulty passing feces
- Pain when passing feces
- A mass or lump around the rectum
- An open wound, blood, or pus around the rectum
Dogs with anal gland problems usually require regular visits to the veterinarian to have their glands manually expressed. If left untreated, blocked (impacted) anal glands can have severe consequences, including the formation of a painful abscess (pocket of infection), which can rupture and create an open wound. If this happens, your dog will require urgent veterinary treatment.
2. Skin conditions
Another common reason for scooting is perianal irritation, better known as a sore or itchy bottom. You might notice that your dog drags their backside across cool grass or carpet for a good scratch. As there are many underlying causes for skin conditions, it’s always best to seek veterinary attention so that the cause can be diagnosed and treated successfully. Your pup may also need to wear an Elizabethan collar while the area heals, as itchy skin can become infected if it is constantly licked, rubbed, or chewed at!
Allergies are one of the most common causes of itchy skin in dogs and can be triggered by fleas, food, pollens, grasses, and other allergens in your pup’s environment. Allergies can be challenging to diagnose and manage, so it’s important to create a plan with your veterinarian and consider seeking advice from a specialist dermatologist if required.
Another condition that commonly affects the skin around your dog’s bottom is clipper rash, which appears as patches of red itchy skin that can look raw or bumpy. Clipper rash is not uncommon after a recent grooming appointment or surgical procedure. Dogs that are suffering from diarrhea may also experience irritation around their bottom from continual straining and reduced hygiene in this area. Your veterinarian will be able to provide anti-inflammatory medications or topical creams to treat these problems.
Intestinal worms, in particular tapeworms, may also cause an itchy bottom and scooting in dogs. If your pup is infected with tapeworm, you may notice small segments approximately the size of a grain of rice around their bottom or in their feces.
Intestinal parasites steal nutrients from your dog’s gut and can also cause severe illness, particularly in young puppies. Certain types of intestinal worms can also infect humans, with young children and immunocompromised family members at increased risk of becoming ill. This is why it’s so important for your dog to have regular health checks with a veterinarian that include an effective parasite prevention plan.
Pain or discomfort around your dog’s bottom may also lead to scooting. More common causes for pain in this area include recent surgery, benign or malignant masses (lumps), anal gland abscesses, and hernias (perineal hernia). Matting or something stuck in your dog’s fur can also be painful if it’s pulling on their skin.
Dogs experiencing pain are often more protective of the sensitive area and may yelp, bite, or pull away. Others may be a lot more subtle in their reaction and you may only notice small changes in their behavior, such as difficulty squatting or toileting. If you have any concerns about your dog’s behavior or suspect they are in pain, it’s important to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
Home Remedies to Avoid if Your Dog is Scooting
Never apply any creams, disinfectants, or natural remedies to your dog’s bottom without discussing their use with a veterinarian first. Many of these products can be irritating and exacerbate the problem or may contain ingredients that are toxic if licked, like zinc.
Applying a warm compress over a swollen anal gland is a remedy that can provide temporary relief, but should not replace a visit to your vet. Your pup may have an infection or abscess forming and require additional treatment. It’s also important to remember that your dog may be extremely sensitive in this area and may growl or bite when touched.
Though scooting is a common problem in dogs, it’s one that should be taken seriously as most causes require veterinary intervention and can have severe consequences if left untreated. Blocked or impacted anal glands are by far the most common reason for scooting in dogs – however, itchy skin, internal parasites, and pain may also cause dogs to scoot. Though many of these problems are relatively straightforward to treat, others may require long-term management, such as medications for skin allergies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my dog still scooting after glands expressed? What should I do?
If your dog is still scooting, you should book an appointment with your veterinarian so they can diagnose the underlying cause. Scooting can also be caused by problems other than anal gland issues such as skin irritation, internal parasites, and pain around the bottom area.
Could dog scooting be due to allergies?
Though scooting is usually caused by anal gland problems, anything that causes an itchy bottom could cause your dog to scoot, including allergies. If you are suspicious that your pup may have allergies it’s always important to seek veterinary advice.
My dog has been wormed but is still scooting!
If your dog has been wormed with an effective veterinary worming product there may be another cause for their scooting, like blocked anal glands. It’s important that you take your dog to the veterinarian so that the underlying cause can be diagnosed and treated correctly.
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