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?
House soiling, or inappropriate urination or defecation, is a common problem in dogs. While in many cases house soiling is due to a behavioral problem, sometimes medical issues are to blame. It may be difficult or even impossible for a pet parent to distinguish between behaviorally caused house soiling and medically caused house soiling. For this reason, the first step in solving a house-soiling problem is to take your dog to a veterinarian for a thorough check-up and urinalysis.
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.