When your dog drags its rear end, or butt along the ground or floor, often referred to as 'scooting', it is a clear sign that something is badly irritating your dog at its rear end near the anus.
The cause of the irritation varies considerably, and can range from blocked anal scent glands, to infections, to fecal contamination, to parasites or to disease problems with the rectum.
Knowing what to look for, can help to identify the cause, and what treatment is required.
This article discusses each of he likely causes and what action is required to reduce the risk of recurrence.
Dogs have scent glands (anal sacs) near the anus that is used to communicate with other dogs. The glands contain a vile smelling fatty substance. One of both anal sacs can occasionally become blocked, infected or rarely abscessed. There blockages are more common in smaller dogs. This leads to itchiness and discomfort that the dogs try to relieve by scratching their rear ends along the floor, carpet or ground. Blocked or inflamed anal sacs can cause other problems such as biting or licking around the area, redness and swelling and trouble defecating. Many dog owners can relieve the symptoms themselves by gently squeezing the sacs, but is it a very unpleasant job and many others get their vet or dog groomer to do it. The anal scent glands can unblocked and drained by simply squeezing the entire gland firmly, in a similar way one would squeeze a pimple. The anal sac problems vary in severity. Some of the treatment options include:
Diarrhea can leave a dog a messy, matted bottom that can cause irritation. Constipation can cause fecal matter to be left on the hair around the anus. Provided the fecal remnants have not been left too long causing an infection, treatment can be as simple as trimming away the dirty hair, or thoroughly washing the area more frequently.
Tapeworms and other parasites are another, fairly rare reason for dogs to start scooting. The commonest signs of tapeworms are a series of tiny, tapeworm segments (about the size of a rice grain) around the dog's anus. Tapeworms can be easily treated by your vet with a drench or an injection. Oddly, the way to prevent tapeworms is to control fleas which are the secondary host and carrier of the tapeworm eggs.
Rectal prolapse causes part of the rectum to protrude out of the anus. It can occur due to constipation or severe diarrhoea. If there are signs of an elongated, cylindrical tissue protruding from the anus, it is time to take you dog to the vet.
The discomfort can be caused by wounds, insect irritations or rarely tumors and other diseases. Look our for redness, rashes, bruising or signs of swelling. If these are present you should take your dog to your vet.
A visual inspection of the area around the anus can help to identify likely causes. Using a pair of rubber gloves, lift your dog's tail and examine the area around the anus. Look for mated hair, redness, swelling, growths, fecal remnants, discharge, or any injuries. A strong smell is also a sign of problems
Anal sac issues - The first sign will be powerful, foul smell around your dog's anus. This is a sign that the sacs may be blocked or infected. You can attempt to unblock them yourself by squeezing or consult your vet. Using a chamomile tea bag soaked in very warm water, or a simply warm clothe applied to the anal area can help the draining process. The sacs may need to be unblocked regularly depending on the dog.
Tapeworms - Check for any signs of tapeworm segments (about the size of rice grains). If there are signs of tapeworms take the dog to your vet for treatment.
More Serious Problems - If there are significant swelling around the anus or signs of infection or discharge, or the dog shows signs of distress it is time to visit your vet.