When you see your dog scooting across the floor, dragging their rear end along the carpet as though it's a perfectly acceptable thing to do in polite company, your first reaction is probably to laugh. (Type "dog dragging butt" into your search bar, and you'll find plenty of amusing images and videos). Or, maybe you usually give your dog a gentle scolding so he or she stops their unsightly scoot.
But have you ever wondered what's behind your dog's scooting behavior and whether it’s cause for concern?
The truth is that this behavior isn't completely random — a dog dragging its butt happens for a particular reason. And some of those reasons are more serious than others. Read on to learn more about dog scooting behavior, why it happens, when it’s a concern and what you can do about it.
What Is Dog Scooting, Exactly?
Dog scooting is just what it sounds like: Your dog puts their rear end down on the ground and drags their butt along the ground, usually using their front legs to scoot along while the hind legs stick up (rather comically) into the air. As silly as it looks, scooting is your dog's only real way to itch their hindquarters. They can't reach this area with their forelegs, hind legs, or their mouth.
So, a dog dragging its butt is simply trying to relieve discomfort in the rear end area. But the question still remains: What causes that discomfort in the first place?
What Causes Butt Scooting?
Several things might cause a dog to drag their butt along the ground. As we've learned, this happens when there is discomfort around the rectum. Scooting is a response to the things that cause this discomfort. The possibilities include:
One of the most common reasons for dog scooting behavior is also one of the simplest: Itchy skin around your dog's anus. Just like us, dogs get itchy sometimes, on various parts of the body. It’s also possible for things like dry skin or allergies to cause itching. Because the hindquarters can't always be easily reached with a limb or your dog's mouth, they choose to scoot.
If your dog is dragging their butt along the ground because of a simple itch, the behavior isn't likely to keep up for very long. If you see your dog scoot every once in a while and then the behavior stops, it's probably nothing to worry about. Your dog simply had an itch in the anal area.
If your canine friend is prone to itchy, irritated skin, you can help with that by feeding them right. Omega-3 fatty acids help promote healthy skin. Adding a supplement to their meals can be a big help. For example, Native Pet's Omega Oil is a great addition to any dog's diet.
Does your dog go to the groomer often? Breeds that are frequently groomed, like Poodles, the Bichon Frise, or Cocker Spaniels, can experience razor burn from the groomer's clippers around the anal area. It's also possible for grooming sprays or perfumes to cause skin irritation in this area.
Is your dog dragging its butt frequently after they’ve been groomed? You might want to talk to your groomer about switching products or keeping the hair a little longer back there to avoid razor irritation.
Clogged Anal Glands
One of the most common causes of dog scooting involves your dog's anal sacs or anal glands. When a dog poops, two small glands on either side of their rectum release a foul-smelling liquid onto the feces. This serves as a sort of unique "marker," letting other dogs know who was there.
Your dog's anal glands can become too full, resulting in the duct that releases the fluid becoming clogged. This is called an impaction. As full anal glands stretch, it causes your dog discomfort they try to relieve by scooting.
Another common anal sac issue is an infected anal sac. When the sacs become infected, it can result in inflammation, pain and even an abscess if the problem isn't addressed.
Note that your dog's diet can contribute to anal sac issues, too. Dogs with food allergies are particularly prone to anal gland problems. If your dog isn't getting enough fiber in the diet, or if they have an intolerance to a particular ingredient in food like wheat or soy, the anal glands could drain improperly and get clogged.
It's possible for an infestation of intestinal parasites to cause butt scooting, too. Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms or other parasites could be to blame. Additionally, dog owners often report their dog dragging its butt when their pooch is suffering from a tapeworm infestation.
Tapeworms are transmitted by fleas, which carry tapeworm larvae. The tapeworms mature in your dog's intestines, then exit from the anus. This causes itching and irritation that your dog tries to relieve by scooting.
If your dog drags their butt along the ground frequently and you spot short, white, rice-like segments in Fido's bowel movements, you may be dealing with a tapeworm infestation.
When Should I Call the Vet?
Some dogs scoot more than others. So, how do you know when to call your veterinarian?
Follow this general rule of thumb: If you see your dog dragging its butt more than once a day or if the behavior persists for two or three days consistently, something might be wrong. It's time to check with your vet.
Your DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) will likely perform a rectal exam to spot any anal gland issues, including impaction or infection. Your vet will drain the anal glands if necessary, and antibiotics and perhaps anti-inflammatories will be prescribed in the case of infection.
Your vet might do a stool test to check for intestinal parasites. If the test comes back positive, they’ll usually prescribe deworming medications. You'll probably need to check in with your vet frequently and continue treatment until the worms are completely eradicated and stool tests come back negative.
If your vet suspects your dog's diet is to blame for your pet's scooting behavior, some changes might be in order. Your vet might recommend a probiotic supplement to maintain good gut health and promote regular bowel movements. (Native Pet's all-natural probiotic powder is a great choice.) If a food allergy is suspected, a food elimination or trial diet might be necessary.
Whatever the cause of your dog's butt-dragging behavior, you'll want to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible. As soon as your dog's scooting behavior concerns you, go ahead and call your veterinary professional.
Dog Scooting: How to Respond
When our dogs scoot, it tends to either make us laugh or cringe. But the truth is that dog scooting happens for a reason. It's a symptom of an issue, even if it's something as minor as an itchy behind.
Because common causes of dog scooting include impacted or infected anal sacs, intestinal worms, and food allergies or a poor diet, when you see frequent scooting, the best course of action is to call your veterinarian. Again, if it happens more than once a day, or if you see your dog dragging its butt for days on end, something's up.
You can do your part to prevent scooting by keeping your dog on parasite preventatives and feeding them a well-balanced diet. If your dog is prone to anal gland issues, have the glands expressed regularly at the vet's office. You can also try adding Native Pet's organic, air-dried Pumpkin Powder to their meals — it can help to prevent scooting.
For more about your dog's health and wellness needs, visit the Native Pet blog to view more articles.