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Why Is My Dog Dragging Its Bottom?

It's not something any of us wants to see -- the beloved family pooch scooting his bottom along the grass, ground, or carpet.

While your instinct may be to chastise your pup, there are good reasons dogs scoot. And it's not to embarrass you in front of company. So, why do dogs drag their bottoms -- and what can you do to make it stop?

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Why Dogs Drag Their Bottoms: Common Causes and Treatments

Scooting -- when a dog drags its anus along the ground -- is almost always a sign something is irritating your dog. What's behind that irritation can range from infection to worms to inflammation. Some of the most common reasons dogs drag their bottom include:

Anal Sac Problems. Despite what humans might feel about the matter, dogs communicate with their rear ends. Specifically, they communicate with the smelly, fatty substance that comes from the anal sacs located on either side of their anus. Anal sacs can sometimes become abscessed, blocked, or inflamed. This is especially the case in smaller breed dogs. In an attempt to relieve the pain and discomfort, a dog may start scooting.

Scooting is only one symptom of anal sac problems. Other signs include chewing or licking around the area, swelling around the anus, and trouble defecating. Treating anal sac issues depends on what's causing the problem. Treatment options include:

  • Expressing the sacs, which can be done at home or by a vet
  • Giving antibiotics to treat an infection
  • Increasing dietary fiber
  • Applying hot compresses
  • Lancing or flushing the sacs under general anesthetic

Fecal contamination: A bout of diarrhea can leave a dog dehydrated, weak, and with a messy, matted bottom. Constipation can cause feces to get caught in the hair around your dog's anus.

Whatever the source, fecal contamination under your dog's tail can eventually cause enough discomfort that your pooch begins scooting to find relief. So long as the fecal contamination hasn't led to infection, treatment can be as easy as trimming away dirty hair. After that, you need to clean the area with warm water.

If your dog has diarrhea for more than one day or is bothered by constipation, talk to your vet.

Worms. Tapeworms are another, though less common, reason dogs may start scooting.

Dogs get tapeworms by swallowing worm-infested fleas. And while scooting can be one sign of tapeworms, the most common sign is the appearance of tiny, rice-like tapeworm segments around your dog's anus.

Tapeworms are easy to treat with a simple dose of oral or injectable medication. Garlic is often recommended as a natural remedy for tapeworms. But there's no proof it prevents parasitic infestations, and it can even be toxic to your pet.

To prevent tapeworms from coming back, you'll need to control fleas. That can be done with pills or topical medications. Here too, there's no proof that garlic helps with pest control.

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