It’s a common misconception that scooting in dogs is caused by intestinal worms. While parasites are possible, the culprit is most likely anal gland impaction. Dogs have two anal sacs located on either side of the anus. These sacs are filled with a foul-smelling, oily substance that naturally secretes when stool is passed. Occasionally, these sacs can become plugged, abscessed or inflamed. As the anal glands fill with fluid, your dog may attempt to scoot his bottom along the floor to relieve the discomfort. Pets may also lick or chew at the swollen area. Scooting can be prevented by emptying the glands. A trip to the vet can rule out any alternative medical problems.
Finding a Cause
Rule out intestinal parasites if your dog is scooting along the floor. Dogs can get tapeworms by ingesting worm-infested fleas. These small, rice-like worms may be visible around the dog’s anus or in his stool. Tapeworms can be treated with an oral or injectable medication from your vet. Wounds or tumors around the anus can also cause pain or discomfort for your pet, as well as possible redness, bruising and discharge. Rarely, your dog could be suffering from a rectal prolapse, caused when a portion of the large intestine protrudes through the anus.
If you notice a pattern in your dog’s scooting habit, visually check for any signs of injury, growths, swelling or discharge. While wearing a pair of gloves, lift your pet’s tail and check the area around the anus. The skin and hair should be free of feces, dirt and debris, as these materials can be irritating to the skin. Impacted anal sacs are often associated with a strong, unpleasant fishy smell. If you notice any unusual symptoms or if your pooch continues to scoot, consult with your vet to determine the problem.
If your pet’s anal glands have become impacted, they may need to be emptied manually to prevent a painful infection. If left untreated, the infection can result in an abscess and eventually rupture the gland. Anal glands can be emptied externally or internally. With a lubricated glove, your vet can feel for these grape-like glands and carefully squeeze until the fluid has been drained. It may be necessary to have your pet’s anal glands expressed several times before the discomfort subsides. If your dog continues to scoot after a manual expression, your vet may investigate alternative medical causes.
Your dog’s diet plays a major role in his ability to properly express his glands naturally. With a bulkier stool, your pooch will have an easier time emptying the anal glands during defecation. Your vet may recommend switching your pet to a high-fiber food to create firmer stools. If your dog continues to need his anal sacs emptied once a month or more, surgery may be your best option to avoid further health problems. In a procedure referred to as anal sacculectomy, a dog’s anal glands are permanently removed.