Why do dogs scoot?

April 13, 2012

Dogs tend to express scooting behaviour due to irritations in the area near the rectum. Irritiations can occur when foreign objects or feces are stuck in the hair around the rectum. This is harmless and should simply be removed. Other, more serious, reasons for scooting include worms and inflamed anal glands.

The anal glands or sacs, as they are also called, are located near the dog’s rectum. If these become impacted or inflamed they can cause serious pain to the dog. The anal sacs are normally expressed automatically during defecation, though sometimes they are not and this can cause them to fill up and possibly become infected. Thus causing a great deal of discomfort for the dog when the full glands press against the anus.

A dog with prolonged diarrhea or one which simply has a slightly loose stool, may not naturally be able to empty its anal sacs and they may need to be expressed manually.

The purpose of the anal sacs

The anal sacs normally excretes a, foul smelling, yellow to tan colored liquid of a watery consistency. The anal glands are sometimes referred to as scent glands as this liquid allow the dog to mark its territory and recognize other dogs. In the old days dogs often had problems with hard feces and the sacs helped squeeze out the feces. Today dogs are fed with natural protein and vitamins and generally do not have this problem. Thus the glands no longer have a use in modern pets.

How to preventing scooting

Cleaning the anal sacs will reduce scooting. Thus as a responsible dog owner you should see to it that this is done on a regular basis. Under normal circumstances expression of the glands can be done by either internal of external methods. Once expressed with necessary precautions and arrangements, the scooting behaviour should come to an end. You may want to have your groomer or local veterinarian show how to do it before attempting to do it yourself. You should also get your vet involved in case of infection as removing the, now thick brownish and very foul smelling, liquid can be very painful to the dog and antibiotics may be needed.

If your dog consistently have problems with infected anal sacs. You may want to consider having them surgically removed.

Facts about scooting

  • If scooting continues, even after emptying the sacs, there may be other problems like itchy skin, worms or possibly pain in the dogs lower back.
  • If the sacs have not been emptied and abscess is formed in the skin around the rectum. The sacs should be emptied. This should be done regularly depending on the dogs scooting behaviour.
  • Feeding your dog a diet with a high contents of fiber may help express the anal glands natually and thus alleviate scooting.
  • Check for the presence of tapeworms and roundworms on the surface of the skin. The dog should be treated accordingly if worms are found to be present.

Scooting is rather common amongs dogs and you should assist your dog through regular check-ups and by alleviating the dog of any discomfort before it becomes a serious problem.

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