Why Is My Dog Scooting?

There are many reasons why a dog may scoot, from anal gland issues to parasites. Often, scooting isn’t a big deal and can be addressed with a vet visit.

Jun 8, 2024By Sara Payne
why is my dog scooting

It happened—your dog scooted its butt across the floor while guests were over. You’ve seen this happen a time or two, but now you are wondering why your dog does this and how you can get them to stop.

Dogs scoot their bottoms for several reasons, including anal gland issues, parasites, itching, and matted hair. Read on to learn why your dog is scooting and how to stop this behavior.

Reasons for Scooting

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Scooting is when a dog sits down, then drags their butt across the floor. While the behavior itself isn’t cause for concern, it can cause a foul smell where the dog scooted. This prompts many dog owners to question the behavior and attempt to prevent it.

If your dog scoots occasionally, they might just have an itchy bottom. A dog can’t wipe its behind the same way a human does, so pieces of fecal matter can cause a pesky itch around the anus. However, if you notice this common behavioral issue over and over again (to the point where it’s causing a problem), the underlying problem could be:

Anal Glands That Need Expressing

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Dogs often scoot when their anal glands are impacted. Anal glands are two scent ducts located on either side of a dog’s anus. When a dog poops, these glands release a foul-smelling liquid. It’s how dogs mark where they’ve been and communicate with others. Yet, if the ducts become impacted with fecal matter, they can clog, causing a dog to scoot as a way to relieve itself.

In severe cases, the impacted anal glands can become infected, leading to inflammation, leaking fluid, and discomfort. While you can “unclog” your dog’s anal glands by expressing them, this is a process many dog owners can’t (and don’t want to) deal with. Many veterinarians and groomers offer anal gland expression as a standard procedure. Some dogs may need this procedure routinely depending on their breed. Some small dog breeds, such as Cocker Spaniels, mini-Poodles, Shih-Tzus, and Bichon Frise are more likely to develop anal gland impaction than other breeds.

Internal Parasites

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If your dog has intestinal parasites, such as tapeworms, these can lead to scooting.

When a dog swallows a tapeworm-infested flea, they can contract these parasites. You often see them when your dog passes a stool. Infected feces will be covered in these rice-grain-looking parasites.

These parasites can also end up in the fur around the anus. Dogs with tapeworms may scoot or drag their bottoms around to relieve itchiness. If you suspect your dog has tapeworms, consult a vet for a deworming medication.

Seasonal and Food-Related Allergies

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Another reason your dog may scoot is due to allergies. If your dog has skin issues, the irritation can cause your dog to scratch and bite at the affected area. They may also drag their bottoms along the ground to scratch at the itch. All dogs can get skin allergies, but some are more prone to skin allergies than others.

Irritants such as perfumes, sprays, and grooming products may also cause itching in the tail area. If your dog has clipper burns from the groomers, they may also scoot their bottoms to alleviate the feeling.

Dogs can also develop anal sac issues from food allergies. If your dog has become intolerant to certain foods, they may produce soft, watery stools. These loose stools may prevent the anal glands from emptying properly. Certain types of foods affect stools, as well. So, if your dog has loose stools, you may need to visit the vet to discuss dietary changes.

Matted Hair Around the Anus

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Some dogs get tangles and mats around their anus. If fecal matter gets caught in the knots, this can lead to itching, skin irritation, and infections—not to mention a foul smell. If your dog experiences this, combing the area with warm water may release fecal matter from the fur. But, if it is very matted, it is important to clip this to prevent issues.

Be extra careful when clipping fur near the anus, you don’t want to hit this sensitive area with the clippers or scissors accidentally. You can always take your dog to a professional groomer to have the matted area removed, as well.

How to Treat Dog Scooting

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When it comes to anal gland issues, if you see redness, swelling, or any unusual or bloody discharge, take your dog to the vet. Your vet will evaluate and treat the issues by expressing the glands, prescribing antibiotics, or providing other treatments and diagnostic tests necessary.

You can also talk to your groomer about using hypoallergenic cleaners, being gentler around the anus when clipping, and discussing with them whether anal expression is necessary as part of the grooming process.

Regardless of the reason why your dog is scooting, you have options for addressing the behavior.

How to Prevent Scooting

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Some dogs need their anal glands regularly expressed to prevent scooting. It’s just part of being a dog owner. However, aside from impacted anal glands, there are other reasons for scooting, many of which can be avoided. For instance:

  • If you’re concerned about your dog getting a tapeworm, carefully monitor what they eat. If your pet eats poop (and tapeworm eggs are found in poop), you may consider getting a muzzle on dog walks.
  • Only do business with experienced groomers. A proficient dog groomer will understand how to avoid clipper burns and other mishaps that can cause irritation around a dog’s anus.
  • If your dog routinely experiences loose stool or diarrhea, they could be sensitive to something in their diet. You may consider switching to a reputable dog food brand or asking their veterinarian for recommendations.
Sara Payne
By Sara Payne

Sara is a mother of two and a high school English teacher who rediscovered her love of writing during the pandemic. She has 5 rescue cats: Neville and Luna, who are white cats with black and grey spots, and Ginny, Blue, and Fairy, who are calicos. Besides taking care of humans and fur babies, Sara enjoys gardening, crafting, and spending time in nature.