Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Scooting

Scooting is used to describe a dog dragging their bum along the ground.

Bare ground, grass, carpet, anything will do. It is not a new trick your dog invented; they are trying to relieve an itch, pain or discomfort where they cannot well reach otherwise.

Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Scooting

Anal gland issues

If you’re one of the people whose mind immediately jumps to anal gland problem, chances are high you might be right.

Anal glands are scent glands on either side of the anus, the same ones that skunks use to spray nasty-smelling stuff on predators. It appears that they are designed as part of marking mechanism; a form of biological ID. The anal gland content travels through ducts for a small portion to be squeezed out along with each poop. If the duct(s) become obstructed, trouble ensues.

See Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Anal Glands to learn more about anal gland issues.

If your dog's anal sacs are inflamed, blocked or abscessed, they might also chew or lick around the area, have a hard time pooping as well as you might notice bad odor or swelling.

Make no mistake, anal gland issues can not only get quite messy but also very painful for your dog.

Rectal prolapse

Doesn’t that sound plenty painful? Your dog's rectum can prolapse both from constipation or severe diarrhea. There would be visible tissue sticking out of your dog's bum.


While not as common, tapeworms too can cause enough discomfort to make your dog scoot.

Tapeworms are not directly contagious but your dog can ingest eggs when they swallow a flea. Cookie most likely got tapeworm from eating a whole squirrel.

If you ever saw the little segments crawling out, you could see how that could be uncomfortable. You may or may not notice little dried-up segments around your dog's anus on it their bed as well.

Skin allergies

Often skin allergies manifest by itching in very specific areas. It’s common to see discomfort inside ears, between toes, and around the bottom. Sometimes the inflammation involved in the allergic response leads to blocking of the fine anal sac ducts and so they become impacted secondarily.

There are other potential causes too, such as wounds or tumors. If your dog starts scooting, don’t get mad, get busy getting them the help they need.

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Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

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  1. Such an important thing to be aware of, I know it's often dismissed but shouldn't be. When I start seeing Jack scooting across the carpet or grass I know it's time for a trip to the vet for his anal glands. Thankfully they aren't too bad he just needs them cleaned out a little bit every once in awhile. I'm interested to see if the raw food I've been adding to his diet will make a difference.

  2. You are so right when you say anal gland issues can be very painful and there are many reasons for a dog to scoot. Thanks for sharing the possible causes for what some people think is funny when a dog does this.

  3. My niece's dog has skin allergies, and sometimes he'll scoot. She has to keep up with his topical medication to make sure he's not irritated.

  4. I always assumed that meant worms - then I got a long haired cat. A lot of times it’s trying to clean up his fur after using the litter box

  5. Ah yes. I'm familiar with this. Although she was not a dog, my (now deceased cat ) Dusty would do this "scooting" from time to time. She was a long haired cat and here and there after going to the bathroom some poo would get stuck to her bum and she'd scoot scoot to get it off. Gross I know. However later down the line, she did experience anal gland issues which did require surgery. Luckily the issue never returned. Poor thing. Issues in the rear are never pleasant.

  6. I didn't realize anal glands were the same ones that makes skunks skunky! Cow used to scoot a lot, and she still does sometimes - it seems to be a symptom of her skin allergies, it only happens when she's itchy all over. Sometimes I'll catch her scooting and we'll go straight to the shower for an allergy-med bath.

  7. One of my dogs had some pretty painful issues with her anal glands. Thankfully, I took her to the vet and she was able to get relief pretty quickly.

  8. There's more causes than I thought there were. I didn't know tapeworms could cause scooting too! Makes sense though.

  9. The minute Layla does a little scoot I immediately take her to the groomers to get her cleaned although the vet this week explained to me it could be from allergies also

  10. I always thought it was an itch, its interesting that there are so many different options. Once again I would head to the vet at the first chance of trouble.

  11. Kilo the Pug has been so healthy but suddenly got a blocked anal gland when he switched food and had a slightly runnier stool for 2 days and developed a big abscess. He had to be sedated and get it treated then go on antibiotics poor little guy. Good news is I love his new vet and he didn't manage to bite her in spite of his discomfort.

  12. Phoebe used to have issues straining when pooping but adding pumpkin to her diet helped. Once in awhile she scoots on the rug, but rarely. I always make sure the groomer expresses her anal glands. Thanks for the additional information about anal gland issues.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  13. My mom's dog only scoots when he has anal gland problems. Unfortunately, he has them a lot. Brulee will scoot on the carpet after she's had a butt bath. She can't stand for her behind to be wet.

  14. Ah,yes, anal glands. We have had a few bouts of my Huskies needed to have them expressed by our vet. And my one girl occasionally will scoot, but across the deck. How she does not wind up with a splinter, I don't know! Ouch! Thankfully, it must be due to just an itch, as she does not do it very often.


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