If your dog scoots his bottom across the carpet or across grass, it's usually a sign he's got some kind of rectal itching that can be caused by a couple of different issues. The most common problem is inflamed or irritated anal glands that need attention. If the scooting is accompanied by a bad smell, red or swollen hind-region or discharge, see a vet for treatment right away.
Why Dogs Scoot
Dogs scoot as a way to scratch an itch they can't otherwise reach, to help eliminate impacted feces or to self-express their anal glands. Anal glands are sacks that are located on either side of the dog’s anus directly under the skin. The glands were originally used by primitive dogs for marking territory, and the sacs typically express or drain themselves when your dog defecates. If this doesn't happen normally, the glands can become full and painful or even abscessed, precipitating a “scoot” to relieve the discomfort.
Examine Your Dog
Lift your dog’s tail and examine his anal region. If your pup is constipated or has ingested a non-food item or has an incomplete bowel movement, you may see feces clumped or dangling around his rectum. You might be able to gently clean the area with a baby wipe or a warm, wet cloth. If your dog is straining with bowel movements, has blood or pus in his stool or appears to have an inflamed rectum, it's time for a visit to the vet.
Your vet will likely express your dog’s anal glands. This will clean the glands of buildup and eliminate potential for infection. If an anal glad is abscessed or ruptured, antibiotic treatment may be prescribed as well. In severe cases, or in situations where a dog experiences regular anal gland problems, your vet may recommend surgery to remove the glands to prevent future episodes.
Regularly expressing your dog’s anal glands will help prevent scooting problems in the future. You can learn how to do it yourself at home, but many people prefer to have a professional groomer or veterinary technician handle the process. Good grooming of your dog’s rectal area can also help prevent against future recurrences, particularly if you have a dog with long hair that can get matted around his anal region. Overweight dogs are also more susceptible to anal problems that result in scooting, as are dogs that are not well-hydrated. Adding fiber and water to your pup’s diet can help as well. Ask your vet about appropriate supplements or the addition of fiber-rich foods like pumpkin puree.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.