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Why does my dog drag his butt? Here’s how to stop the scooting

Chihuahua scooting on the floor

Regular treatment for internal parasites can help avoid your dog scooting.

© Boyphare - Shutterstock

Have you recently noticed your dog dragging their butt along the ground? Known as scooting, this behaviour may signal discomfort. Here we look at how to help.

By Greta Inglis

Published on the 27/03/2021, 18:00

We’ve all seen it before. The elegant lady queuing as her dog scoots in front of other customers, the puppy stopping to scoot in the middle of training classes, or our own dog scooting during family dinners. Although comical at times, this is one part of life with dogs we can probably agree most people would rather not experience.  

It's important to note, that when your dog starts scooting – and by this we mean dragging their bottom on the ground – this is often a sign of discomfort or irritation. Dog owners may feel slightly embarrassed, but make sure you follow up on the behaviour. It can happen for a number or reasons and could indicate that something is wrong.

Why does my dog drag his butt?

There are a number of reasons dogs scoot, including skin irritation, poor fur condition and even behaviour problems. Some of the causes can be treated at home following a visit to your trusted vet, but we would always recommend seeking their guidance, to ensure the wellbeing of your canine companion. Let’s face it, none of the reasons are pretty, but all of them are important to consider as a dog owner.

If you see your dog scooting, don’t punish them for this. It is a sign they're uncomfortable, and steps should be taken to understand the cause of this discomfort.

Allergies and skin irritation  

Dogs that suffer from flea bite dermatitis are allergic to the saliva of the flea, and this can cause very itchy skin. A prime spot for fleas tends to be the tail area, so a dog that licks and chews the base of their tail, may be showing signs of irritation from flea bites.

Food intolerances and allergens in the environment can also cause itching. Common food allergies include chicken, wheat, corn and dairy. Dust, pollen and certain grasses can also lead to allergic reactions. If you suspect your dog is scooting to relieve itching, it may be worth discussing allergen testing with your vet.

Click here for more information about the symptoms, cause and treatment for dog allergies.

Internal parasites  

If you suddenly notice your dog scooting, this could be a sign of intestinal parasites such as tapeworm. Dogs may not show any noticeable signs of this at first but look out for weight loss and your dog dragging his bottom on the ground. Your vet may ask for a fecal sample, which you can collect at home. They can then advise on treatment, which will make your dog feel much more comfortable. You should notice your dog stops scooting once they’re parasite free.

Behavioural issues and pain reactions 

Excessive licking in dogs may be due to stress and anxiety, or in some cases can be linked to gastrointestinal problems. If your dog is licking their behind more regularly than you’d expect, consider whether this may be a contributing factor.

Increased restlessness and vocalisation, particularly in older dogs, may indicate pain. Deferred pain from hip and joints can result in an older dog dragging their behind. If all other factors have been ruled out, and your dog still seems uncomfortable, an assessment of skin and joint condition may be required.

Why does my dog scoot after they poop?

Many dog owners will have noticed their dog seems to scoot after they poop. This is not uncommon and may indicate the presence of conditions in need of treatment. The following factors should be considered, for the health and comfort of your furry friend.

Anal gland issues

The anal glands, also known as sacs, are located just inside your dog’s bottom. These secrete a strong-smelling liquid, which serve the purpose of scent marking territory. Healthy anal glands should empty when your dog poos, and if this occurs as it should, your dog will not experience any form of discomfort. Anal gland issues can arise when the sacs become clogged and therefore cannot empty as regularly as they should. This can be uncomfortable, and your dog scooting is their way of trying to relieve this feeling.

Further problems may arise in the case of completely full anal glands. Impacted anal sacs that are left untreated can become abscessed, and in severe cases may even burst. If you notice a fowl smelling odour or your dog dragging their bottom, do book a trip to the vet. A rectal exam will be carried out to look for signs of inflammation and the sacs may need to be manually expressed. This is something that groomers may do for you as regular practice, but in the case of anal sac issues, your vet will need to check for infection. Once they have expressed the glands, antibiotics and pain relief may be prescribed. Surgery may be required in cases that go untreated over time, so anal gland problems should be ruled out if your dog starts scooting. This helps prevent pain and, of course, the dreaded "cone of shame"!

Increased fibre, such as sweet potato or pumpkin can help reduce anal glad issues. Probiotics may also be prescribed by your veterinarian.

Matting and poor fur condition 

If your low-shedding dog has suddenly started dragging their bottom, it could be that some coat maintenance is required. Matting can pull at your dog’s skin, and if their fur has matted around their bottom and tail, poop and other material can get stuck here, causing irritation.

If you feel this is the reason for your dog’s scooting, a trip to the groomers will be urgently needed.

Take a look here at our list of 44 low-shedding dog breeds. These dogs all make wonderful companions, but regular coat maintenance is required to avoid discomfort and matting.

How do I get my dog to stop scooting?

Dog scooting is one of those things we as owners tend to hope won’t last, and that at the very least our dog will take themselves off to a private place. This is rarely the case, with new carpet and a room full of people seeming to be pre-requisites for scooting activity!

If you’ve noticed your dog dragging their bottom along the ground, it’s important not to ignore it, particularly if you see it happen more than once. Consult with your veterinarian to work out the root cause of the behaviour. Anal gland issues can become serious if left untreated, so making sure these are functioning and clearing properly is a must.

If your dog is feeling uncomfortable because of allergies and skin irritation, your vet will be able to carry out allergen testing. There are also a wide range of hypoallergenic foods that can help.

The best way to rule out issues such as matting and intestinal parasites, is through regular care and treatment. Regular worming, at least once every three months, can help rule this out as a cause of your dog’s scooting. If their fur type requires daily maintenance, building positive associations to brushing and doing so regularly, can help avoid any skin irritation.

Take a look at our top five grooming tips here. 

Scooting is your dog’s way of showing they’re feeling uncomfortable about something. As dog owners, it’s up to us to step in and work out why. Your vet will always be happy to help. Stopping the scooting will make your dog feel more comfortable, save your carpet and perhaps even a dash of embarrassment along the way!

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