Updated: Sep 11
Dogs do not scoot their butts across the floor merely to embarrass you.
Anal Sac Issues
That “butt crawl” could very well be caused by anal sac issues.
Dogs love to sniff butts to pick up the other dog’s scent signature — because simply saying, “Hi, I’m Buffy” isn’t exactly possible for a dog to do.
All dogs have a unique scent, a bit like a human fingerprint (only smelly) cooked up inside the anal sacs.
Dogs have 2 anal sacs, on either side of the anus. The idea is that when the dog poops, the anal sphincter squeezes the anal glands, which express a small bleb of super-smelly secretion. Kind of like the doggy equivalent of social media, this secretion then gives whoever cares to “read” (or sniff) it a message about who left it there.
Over-Full Anal Sacs
But anal sacs have some design flaws. Each gland is the size of a small grape, but the secretion drains out through a fine duct. This duct can become clogged or blocked, and secretion builds up inside the gland. Like blowing too much air into a balloon, the glands stretch and stretch … which is very uncomfortable. The dog then tries to relieve the discomfort by rubbing their butt to try and free things off. Indeed, impacted anal sacs are the most common reason dogs scoot their butts.
Infected Anal Sacs
Another common problem occurs if the anal sac contents become infected.In the early stages, this is irritating to the dog who then scoots. But as the infection gets worse, the glands become painful and the symptoms change.
Signs of an anal gland infection in a dog include:
Constant rubbing or licking at the anus
A bloody or purulent discharge just beside the anus
The dog is off colour or seems in pain
Cancer of the Anal Gland
Unfortunately, some dog breeds are prone to cancer of the anal sac.
A tumour grows quietly, often undetected, until it blocks drainage from the sac. At this point, the anal gland becomes impacted or infected and the dog shows symptoms, drawing attention to the area.
Dealing With Anal Sac Issues
Some dogs are martyrs to anal sac issues, but there are ways to help so talk to your vet about this.
If a dog scoots their butt, but their anal glands are fine, next on the list of causes is an allergy.
Dogs with allergies often have itchy skin. If they have a food allergy, then as the remains of that food pass out of their butt, it inflames the mucus membrane and skin around the anus — and that brings irritation.
The options that can help to treat the allergy so that the itchy bum becomes a thing of the past.
Talk to your vet about this
Diarrhoea can cause butt scooting for a couple of reasons.
First, the anal sacs don’t get emptied. Second, diarrhoea can scorch the delicate mucus membrane and skin of the anus, making it sore. When a dog can’t reach to scratch, they’ll settle for scooting instead.
To help deal with diarrhoea have a talk to your vet or vet nurse
When was your dog was last dewormed against tapeworms?
Dogs get tapeworms from fleas or eating vermin.
The thing about these intestinal worms is that they can cause perianal irritation. This is down to the tapeworm egg packets that migrate out of the dog’s anus. Unsurprisingly, this is itchy.
Look for tiny white seed like objects near the dog’s anus. Not all dewormers work against tapeworm, so read the packaging or just ask at your vets.
Trouble Down Below
Be aware that general irritation around the genitals may cause a dog to scoot.
For the girl dogs, check their private parts, being alert for knots in the fur round the vulva, skin infections in the vulvar folds or a vaginal discharge. If in doubt, visit the vet.
And finally, a word of warning: What do you do when the dog scoots their butt?
If you a) shout at them or b) laugh, you may accidentally make the problem worse.
Giving the dog attention (any sort of attention) rewards the action. If the dog realizes that butt scooting makes them the center of attention, they may well use this as a strategy for drawing attention to themselves.
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