The five W’s of dogs that scoot

Pug puppy scoots in the grass

Most of us have experienced the surprising sight of a dog scooting his bum across the grass or carpet, and many a pooch has been reprimanded for doing it. But have you ever wondered exactly why he’s scooting? Could it be a medical problem, an itch he can’t scratch, or simply a weird and misunderstood habit? Let’s delve into the mystery behind the infamous scoot.

Who?
Who scoots? Almost all dogs have experienced scooting at some point in their lives. Big dogs, small dogs, pure-breeds, and mutts alike have been seen scooting. It’s a common problem that usually has an easy fix.

What?
What does it mean when a dog scoots? Basically, when a dog is scooting along the ground, he is trying to scratch an itch or relieve an uncomfortable feeling that usually stems from his anal glands, which are really difficult for him to reach via any other means besides dragging his rear end along the ground.

Where?
That’s the funny thing, dog’s don’t care where they scoot. They will usually scoot outside in the yard when your neighbors are watching or across the freshly shampooed carpet when you’re trying to eat dinner. Whenever the urge strikes them, they crouch down and drag their furry bottoms across the ground and they’re not shy about it.

When?
There’s no way to tell when your dog will scoot. Most dogs do it quickly and with no warning, almost with the urgency of a bee sting; they just drop down and go. When your dog begins to scoot more than just once in a great while, it’s time to check out the situation. Do a quick visual inspection of the dog to see if there’s a visible problem causing the discomfort. Lift his tail and make sure the area is clean and not impacted by any type of debris. There should be no swelling, growths, discharge, or injury of any kind that you can see.

Why?
This is the million dollar question. There are quite a number of reasons why your dog might be scooting. Some are a lot more common than others and some have a much easier remedy:

  • Anal Sac. Inflammation of the anal sac is the number one cause of scooting. This is usually accompanied by a foul odor and possibly discharge. Emptying those sacs is easy and can be done by a groomer, who can also teach you how to do it at home, fun! Once your dog has been treated, figuring out the underlying cause of the problem is important. They could have simply been full or they could have been infected, in which case he may need antibiotics. A product such as NaturVet No Scoot Plus Pumpkin Soft Chews for Dogs contains blend of beet pulp, flaxseed and psyllium husk, as well as dandelion root and pumpkin powder to help reduce scooting. If you have a cat that scoots, Glandex is available in powder which can be mixed in your cat’s food.
  • Worms. Dogs that have worms don’t always scoot so this is a less common reason behind the action. However, some dogs experience serious itching because of the infestation which could cause them to scoot. A sure-fire way to detect tapeworms in your dog is by visually detecting them around his anus. If your dog is scooting, check there first, just in case. Tapeworms are very easy to treat. Tapeworms go hand-in-hand with fleas so be careful, especially in the summer months, to use a good flea medicine.
  • Rectal Prolapse. This is a scary situation that requires immediate medical attention. Rectal prolapse can occur after severe bouts of diarrhea or constipation. The prolapse is part of the dog’s large intestine which can protrude through the anus. If you see this elongated mass coming from his bottom, call the vet right away.
  • Fecal Contamination. This is definitely the cause for scooting that has the easiest cure. If the reason your dog is scooting is because he has feces matted in or around his bottom, just clean him up with warm, soapy water. Contamination of any kind down there will cause immense itching and burning so he has no choice but to scoot to relieve the discomfort.
  • Growths and Tumors. Luckily this isn’t extremely common but it is very serious so it cannot be overlooked. Tumors can sometimes grow in or around the anal glands so be careful to watch for any unusual swelling or discharge and contact your vet immediately.

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17 Comments

  1. Does food have any cause ti shooting

  2. Hi Arthur, food allergies are a common cause of anal sac inflammation, which may cause scooting. Low-fiber diets can also contribute to anal sac problems. You can read a bit more about that here: http://www.1800petmeds.com/education/anal-sac-scooting-dogs-21.htm

    I’d also recommend checking with your vet if it seems your pet is having problems with his or her anal glands!

  3. Could a UTI cause scooting in a female canine?

  4. Hi Jason, here’s an article about UTI’s: http://www.1800petmeds.com/education/urinary-tract-infection-symptoms-dog-cat-35.htm

    Scooting isn’t listed as a symptom of a UTI, but you should check with your vet if you think your pet may have a problem.

  5. My dog scoots right after she poops, I give her a bath weekly. I feed her alpo cookout classics dog food. She hasn’t been eating properly recently, and she never poops in the house but she pooped in the house today and it looked different, like diarrhea but not diarrhea. I’ve taken her to the vet they said she was fine but I feel like she isnt. Could you explain possibly why she’s scooting?

  6. I have an 8 year silky terroir. She just scooted across the floor and looked at me as if something is wrong. She loves homemade pork skins, and I think I may have caused the problem. I feel bad because I work so many hours, so I bake a fresh pork skin once a week. I know house food is not for dogs, but she’s old and super active so I try to keep her happy.

  7. Hope, pork is really bad for dogs and can cause worms Hun. Replaced the pork skin for something like chicken. Dogs go wild for a bit of freshly cooked chicken and it won’t cause them any health problems.

  8. We have a blue Heeler and she has been scooting. We took her to the vet today and they said it was her anal glands and fixed her. Well we got her home and tonight she started scooting again. Is it something else or does it take time.

  9. We have a small Pekingese who is always booty scooting. The vet has cleaned her anal glands (not much there), the groomer cleans her anal glands every 6 weeks, and she has no UTI. No worms either. Any suggestions? She really seems uncomfortable when she scoots.

  10. We just had our 3 year old Zoey,to vet,and had anal glands cleaned but she still scoots every now and then.

  11. my 14yr old chow was sick for a week with some loose stools, then he got better and now he is scooting and won’t leave his butt alone.. it is very red and looks very uncomfortable… he sniffs the floor after he scoots but there is no foul smell… what can I do to relieve him?

  12. Help, my dog, buddy, a beautiful American bulldog, is scooting his bottom alot around our new home. I’ve checked every fecal matter on all my dogs for worms, but I see none, we expressed his anal gland. He still is shooting, now this had lead to an irritated bottom that is red and swollen. I’m at a loss. Is it possible he had worms and I’m not seeing them in his fecal matter or around his anal area? When we expressed his gland it was not particularly swollen but did have a little in it that we got out. Still no relief for my buddy. Please can anyone help me?

  13. We have a 8 yr. old weinner female who is starting to scoot more and more we had her gland squeezed last week but she still scoots? Should try the bars first?

  14. HI Doug. You can certainly try bars, but also maybe go back to vet for recheck as sometimes allergies can appear as anal sac issues. Also your vet should do stool check to make sure no tapeworms. You also could try new product called Glandx which also may help with keeping anal sac emptied

  15. My dog scoot something, I don’t give table food at all. Can she have worms still?
    Because she sleeps in my bed, should I spot sleeping with her?

  16. My dog scoot something, I don’t give table food at all. Can she have worms still?
    Because she sleeps in my bed, should she stop
    sleeping in my bed?

  17. HI Sweet. Thanks for the question. Worms are occasionally possible with signs of scooting, so best to have stool recheck at vet for worms and parasites. However more commonly causing scooting is anal gland impactions, which need to be expressed by your local vet. Best to take her to local vet for exam, stool check and anal gland expression. I would not worry about her sleeping still with you in bed.

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