The five Ws 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 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 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.

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.

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.

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.
Have pet health questions? For any medical concerns, we always recommend you consult your veterinarian. However, for non-emergency questions, you can contact Dr. Dym directly using our Ask the Vet form.

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  1. HI Miranda. Symptoms like gas, stomach noises, gurgling, etc have lots of possible causes from hidden parasites to dietary issue/hypersensitivity/allergy to dietary indiscretion, metabolic issues of liver or pancreas, etc. Best to have proper vet exam and evaluation to assess specific cause and treatment. You can try Panacure granules worming from 1800petmeds for hidden worms and Giardia, etc as well as good probiotic like fast balance or fortiflora, but best to see vet if signs persist. You can also try over the counter antacid like omeprezole(generic for prilosec) at dose of one half mg per pound once daily

  2. Dogs scoot for lots of reasons, from anal gland impaction/infection to lower GI tract parasites like tapeworms to even constipation from many causes, allergies, etc. Vet exam and evaluation needed if anal scooting persists or worsens.

  3. My 2y10m old neutered male Havanese only scoots repeatedly when we take him walking. I have had his anal glands checked with my vet and he is regularly dewormed with Millbemax. I just don’t know what else to do to make his walks comfortable for him as something clearly bothers him. He only does it occasionally at home when he has done a poo and feels he need to wipe his bottom. Any ideas?

  4. Hi Michaela. We’re sorry to hear your Havanese is having trouble scooting. For any medical concerns, we always recommend you consult your veterinarian. However, for non-emergency questions, you can contact Dr. Dym directly using our Ask the Vet form.
    ~ Abby, PetMeds Pro

  5. Hello, my 6 year old Yorkie just was groomed last week and ever since then she has had a kind of swollen anal cavity and also has been scooting. Only have seen her scoot like 2 separate times. But I’m still concerned. Any thoughts?

  6. Hi Heidi. I’m sorry your Yorkie is having this problem. For any medical concerns, we always recommend you consult your veterinarian. However, for non-emergency questions, you can contact Dr. Dym directly using our Ask the Vet form. We hope your furry friend is feeling better soon!
    ~ Abby, PetMeds Pro

  7. What a useless website!

  8. What a useless website! And it tried to block me by saying that I had said that before? Not me but pretty sure it’s not the first time

  9. People aren't stupidMarch 1, 2019 at 3:56 am

    What a useless website! And it tried to block me by saying that I had said that before? Not me but pretty sure it’s not the first time

  10. What is the dosage for a 10 pound dog?

  11. Hi Bonnie. The dosage directions for the NaturVet No Scoot for dogs of all weights are: 1 chew per 20 lbs of weight twice daily.
    ~ Abby, PetMeds Pro

  12. I have to agree….not a very good, nor informative website. The questions are asked well knowing that they can consult with their vet. Needed answers here if possible. The rest is DUH!

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