Have you ever caught your dog using their front paws to scoot their bum across your floor? It’s funny to watch, but you won’t be laughing if you get stains or odour on your carpets or furniture as a result.
Scooting is typically caused by pain, itching or discomfort. It’s not unusual for your dog to do it once in a while, but if your dog is consistently scooting across the floor, it could be a sign of a health issue.
1. Impacted Anal Glands
Your dog has two anal glands, one on each side of the anus. They produce a stinky, oily substance that needs to be cleared regularly, or the glands can become impacted, which can lead to irritation and eventually, infection.
Most of the time, your dog’s anal glands empty as your dog poos as a way of marking their territory. They also empty their anal glands in moments of intense excitement or fear. That’s why you may notice a sudden fishy odour when your dog is scared or excited.
The pressure of pushing out a poo causes the anal glands to empty. If your dog’s poo is too soft, they will not push hard enough to empty their anal glands, so the glands may remain full.
Other signs of impacted anal glands include licking the affected area or a swollen appearance. You can take your dog to the vet so your veterinarian can squeeze the anal glands to empty them.
It’s best to prevent impaction by making sure your dog’s poo is not too soft. You can try a probiotic-enriched kibble like Fromm or a probiotic supplement. You can also ask your veterinarian about giving your dog a small dose of a psyllium husk fiber supplement.
2. Allergic Dermatitis
Allergic reactions to food, flea bites or substances in their environment can cause your dog to be itchy all over. If your dog has a food allergy, you’ll typically see multiple symptoms throughout their body. Chronic ear infections, excessive licking and scratching of the skin, and a yeasty odour, along with scooting, are signs that your dog may be intolerant of an ingredient in their food. The most common food allergies in dogs are beef, chicken, dairy, wheat, soy, corn and pork.
It’s good to rotate your dog’s food at least every 3 months to prevent a food allergy. Try a new food with a different protein and grain to see if their allergies clear up. An allergy test from your veterinarian can help you choose a food that your dog can tolerate.
If itching and scooting does not clear up with a simple dietary change, you will need to see your vet to rule out other issues.
Parasites can cause itching around your dog’s anus, which leads to scooting on the floor.
Your dog should take a monthly parasite preventative that prevents heartworms and most types of worms. Even if your dog is on a preventative, there is a chance they could contract a parasite. You won’t always be able to see eggs or worm segments in your dog’s poo. Often, you won’t see the worms until after your dog is treated.
Collect a fresh stool sample from your dog and bring it to your veterinarian, who will be able to look at it through a microscope to find any traces of parasites.
4. General Itching
If you’re not sure why your dog is itchy, it could be a temporary problem caused by excessive dirt or dry skin. You can use a product like Mikki Top & Tail Wipes to keep the area clean.
Tea tree shampoo eliminates bacteria and fungus, and can relieve inflammation caused by allergic reactions. You can wash your dog any time they feel itchy, though it’s best to bathe them no more than 2 times per week, as over-bathing can dry out their skin and worsen the itch.
In some cases, scooting is caused by pain or lameness of the back legs. You may also notice stiffness, especially upon getting out of bed in the morning.
Scooting can even be caused by a urinary tract or vaginal infection, particularly in female dogs. Both need to be treated by a veterinarian.
If you’re unable to treat the cause of scooting at home, you will need to see your vet for a professional opinion. While scooting is not uncommon, it’s a sign that your dog is in pain or discomfort, and the possibility of a worsening condition that’s probably easily treated.