4 reasons why your dog keeps dragging their butt

4 reasons why your dog keeps dragging their butt
Clogged anal glands could lead to scooting.Ling Jin/Getty Images
  • If your dog is dragging their butt, it might be a symptom of clogged anal glands.
  • It could also signal a worm infestation if your dog is also having diarrhea.
  • Skin irritation and food allergies could also be why your dog is dragging their butt.

If you're a dog parent, chances are, you've caught your pup dragging his or her butt across the carpet on at least one occasion. You probably shrugged (or laughed) it off and forgot about it. But what if your dog is scooting a lot? Is it a reason for concern? Well, they certainly aren't just dragging their butt on the floor for the fun of it.

Here are five reasons why your dog might be scooting.

1. Impacted anal glands

Impacted anal glands are a common reason that dogs scoot. Anal glands, or anal sacs, are scent glands that are on both sides of your dog's anus, at the 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock positions, says Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD, Chief Veterinary Officer at Purina. These glands produce a foul-smelling liquid that dogs use to communicate with each other.
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Usually, these glands empty when your dog poops, but in some cases, the glands may get blocked or severely clogged, says Venator.

Risk factors for clogged anal glands:

  • Excess weight or obesity
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Food hypersensitivities
  • History of gastrointestinal disease
  • Anal gland duct obstruction due to lesions, infection, masses, or tumors

If the glands are blocked or severely clogged, especially for a while, secretions will build up, leading to inflammation and itchiness. In severe cases, it can cause infection, abscesses on the anal glands, or even a ruptured gland.

Dogs scoot in an attempt to excrete the glands and relieve the discomfort. However, you should also look out for excessive licking of the rectal area, blood, and pus. If you see these signs, contact your vet immediately.
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2. Worms

Dogs can get a variety of intestinal parasites, or worms, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and rectal irritation, says Jessica Herman, DVM, a vet with Fuzzy, a telemedicine platform for pets.

Main types of intestinal parasites in dogs

  • Tapeworms
  • Roundworms
  • Whipworms
  • Hookworms
  • Coccidia
  • Giardia
Parasites can cause rectal irritation, which leads to scooting. Additionally, the diarrhea that occurs due to the parasite can cause further irritation and inflammation. Related Article Module: The best dog dewormers in 2021 If you think your dog has worms, take them to the vet ASAP, since they can lead to serious complications. They will need to take medication to be dewormed.
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3. Food allergies

Sometimes, dogs can experience food allergies, which are most commonly caused by a reaction to the protein in the food, says Stephanie Lantry, DVM, a vet with pet telehealth app, Airvet.

"[Food allergies] can present in many ways, but they commonly cause itching of the ears and the rear end. When the allergies flare up, they cause the skin to become red and inflamed," says Lantry. As a result, the dog ends up scooting to relieve the itching.

If you suspect your dog has food allergies, Lantry says you should talk to your vet about doing a hypoallergenic food trial to get a better idea of what's going on.
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4. Skin irritation

Dogs may also scoot when they're experiencing skin irritation. Aside from allergies, Lantry says some causes of skin irritation include:

  • Matted fur
  • Feces stuff to the fur
  • Clipper burn from grooming

Lantry says skin irritation can be treated topically and systemically. "If there is a mild redness or rash, you can use a spray or cream with a topical steroid like hydrocortisone in it. If it is very open and raw, then your dog may need an oral antibiotic in addition to the topical meds," says Lantry.

Along with scooting, dogs may also try to lick their butt if they can reach it to deal with the discomfort. However, this repeated moisture can worsen the irritation and lead to even more scooting. In this case, Lantry says giving the dog an oral anti-itch medication and a topical spray or cream along with a cone so that they can't lick their butt.
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Insider's takeaway

There are various reasons why your dog may be dragging their butt across the floor, ranging from not-so-serious to very serious.

It's better to be safe than sorry, so if your dog is repeatedly scooting on the floor, it's important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible to get your dog feeling better.

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