Yesterday, a client told me, “My dog is dragging his bum on the floor!” I want to talk about the various reasons that dogs drag or scoot their rear ends on the floor. If you have dogs long enough, you’ll probably need to know about this even though the topic is a bit gross.
A common cause of dogs scooting on the floor is impacted (clogged) anal sacs. The anal sacs are two small fluid-producing pouches with openings just inside the anus. When a dog has a bowel movement, the pressure of stool passing should push the fluid out of the sacs. When the openings get clogged, the fluid builds up and creates discomfort. Dogs scoot in reaction to this discomfort.
But clogged anal sacs are not the only reason dogs drag their bottoms. There are several other reasons you might not have thought of.
Why Dogs Scoot on the Ground
When a dog has anal sac disease, the normal fluid doesn’t get expelled from the sac with a bowel movement. This is the classic cause of scooting dogs but there are other causes.
I doubt anyone has any clear data on the topic, but in my experience, there are various reasons that the fluid doesn’t come out of the sacs the way it should.
Anal Sac Fluid Is Too Thick or Abscessed
The fluid has become thick like paste making it impossible for the material to flow out of the small opening of the anal sac. I don’t know the cause of this condition, but it seems a lack of hydration and perhaps allergies could contribute.
You’ll need a vet to check your dog and see if they can empty the thickened fluid for you. Don’t try this at home as you could cause more irritation if you don’t know what you’re doing!
Sometimes clogged anal sacs develop an infection and form an abscess. You’ll see a red, inflamed area at about 4:00 or 8:00 in relation to the anus. The abscess might break open and drain the infection through the skin.
Definitely see your vet if you think your dog has an anal sac abscess.
Allergies and Itchy Bum
Allergies and food sensitivity can lead to dogs having an itchy bum. Inflammation in the anus and anal sac tissue makes the opening of the anal sac too small to allow the thickened fluid to flow out. I’ve seen plenty of dogs who have empty anal sacs but they’re still scooting on the floor because they have an itchy bum.
Scooting After Grooming
Scooting after grooming is not uncommon and could be due to clipper burn or sensitivity, irritation from having his anal sacs expressed or even a reaction to soaps or perfumes. Some dogs scoot while others dogs keep sitting down suddenly after grooming.
The first thing to try is washing the area with mild soap and water then rinsing well. Hydrocortisone cream or spray (click to see the one I recommend) can be a big help in cases like this.
Most dogs feel better by the next day. If your dog is still extremely uncomfortable, take her to see your vet for stronger treatment
Scooting After Pooping
Scooting on the floor after pooping might be a normal reaction to the feeling of stool being stuck around the anus. Make sure to keep any long fur trimmed and clean back there. You can ask your groomer or vet to do a “hygienic clip” for you.
I’ve seen little dogs with long hair get quite a lot of feces stuck in their fur without their owners realizing it. Put your dog up on a table and shine a flashlight on that area so you can see if she needs a clean up on aisle five.
Irritation from Diarrhea
Irritation from diarrhea will make a dog scoot on the floor. When I see this, the anus and skin around it are usually red and sore. You can clean the area with mild soap and water, trim the long fur and apply a little diaper rash cream (click to see the one I use for my patients) to soothe the skin.
Irritation of Vulva or Scrotum
I’ve seen some dogs scoot on the ground when they have dermatitis of the vulva or scrotum. Occasionally, a female dog will scoot when she has a bladder infection.
See your vet for help if you suspect one of these problems since home treatments are less likely to be enough to help your dog.
Some Breeds Are More Prone to Scooting
Certain breeds of dogs are to be predisposed to the problem, possibly because of a malformation of the anal sacs themselves. Small and toy breeds such as Miniature Poodles, Shih Tzus, Pugs and Miniature Dachshunds tend to get plugged anal sacs more than medium and large breed dogs.
How to Tell if Your Pet Has Anal Sac Problems
Symptoms of anal sac problems in dogs and cats may be any one or all of the following
- Scooting or dragging his bum on the floor or ground
- Licking, or trying to lick the anal area
- A strong odor or fluid coming from the tail area
- Redness around the anus
- Some animals will suddenly jump up as if bitten by something
There may be no symptoms until a serious infection occurs, in which case, you will see redness, swelling, pain and possibly drainage of infected fluid from a sore near the anus
It’s always better to try to figure out how to minimize the need for manual expression of the anal sacs. Repeated manual expression of an animal’s anal sacs may make the problem even worse by adding to the inflammation.
It is NOT normal for dogs to have impacted anal sacs. But some dogs’ abnormal anatomy will make expressing their anal sacs necessary.
Stop Your Dog’s Scooting with Preventive Measures
- A fresh food diet may be less inflammatory and contains the right amount of moisture to support normal anal sac function. Fish oil supplements can also decrease inflammation.
- Treat allergies with the help of your veterinarian. Many dogs with chronic scooting problems do well eating hypoallergenic diets.
Home Remedies for Scooting Dogs
If your dog is scooting more than once a week or so, get your vet to take a look. In the meantime, you can use cool compresses on the anal area to ease the pain.
Green or black tea bag compresses are another gentle way to soothe inflammation. For anal sac abscesses that have already broken open, you may try applying calendula cream to soothe the area.
Photo credits CC by 2.0: 50-phi
Last update on 2021-04-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API