What does it mean when dogs drag their bum? Here’s What to Do Next

What Should You Do If You See Your Dog Scooting?

What does it mean when dogs drag their bum?

“If you see your dog scooting, lift up their tail and check for anything that might be causing the irritation. Unless you see an obvious and easily fixed cause (such as a piece of stick or poop stuck to their fur), get them checked out by a vet,” says Dr. Victoria Strong, a veterinarian, lecturer, and content writer. “Don’t leave it too long. Left untreated, blocked anal glands can develop into more serious issues such as infections and anal gland abscesses.”

Pet parents should not try to express or empty their dog’s anal glands at home or by taking a dog to the groomer, says Barrack. “This can cause trauma and more harm,” she says.

In fact, dogs should not regularly have their anal glands expressed as part of professional grooming services. “Normal dogs do not require frequent manual anal gland expression as they do this on their own when they defecate,” Barrack explains.

What does it mean when dogs drag their bum?

If your dog’s butt dragging is caused by anal gland problems, your veterinarian will likely empty your dog’s glands after a thorough physical exam, says Garner.

“In persistent cases, an anti-inflammatory may be prescribed to prevent swelling arising, and anal gland infections will require a course of antibiotics,” she adds. “In the most severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the anal glands. But this is a serious procedure and comes with significant risk, so it is important to discuss these risks with a vet before deciding on the best course of action for your pet.”

If your veterinarian treats your dog’s anal glands, your canine companion may start feeling relief rather quickly and the scooting should stop. “Relief from emptying the anal glands can be almost instantaneous,” says Strong. “In some dogs it might take up to 24 hours for the irritation to settle.”

If your dog is already scooting and showing signs of discomfort, it’s always a good idea to visit your veterinarian for a thorough exam, proper diagnosis, and effective treatment plan.

However, there are some things that pet parents can do to try and help prevent scooting and anal gland problems from occurring.

Feed a high quality diet. “Feeding your dog a good quality, well-balanced diet can help prevent scooting by ensuring their stools are firm enough to squeeze and empty the anal glands as they pass through the rectum,” says Strong. “A good diet will also help you prevent obesity, which increases the risk of anal gland problem in dogs.”

Don’t skip parasite prevention. Since some dog scooting can be caused by parasites such as tapeworms, it’s important to keep your dog on a parasite preventative that protects against tapeworm infection.

Consider a fiber supplement. Adding fiber to your dog’s diet can help prevent some digestive issues and anal gland problems. “Adding fiber to your dog’s diet can help to maintain their digestive health, firm up their stools, and prevent their anal glands from becoming inflamed,” says Garner. “There are commercially available fiber supplements, or you could add dry bran flakes, oats, or cooked brown rice to their meal.” Plain canned pumpkin is also a good option for adding more fiber to your dog’s diet.

Why Is My Dog Scooting Their Butt on the Floor?

Dog scooting might happen for a variety of reasons, but usually the issue is itching or pain. If your dog’s butt is bothering him, he might drag it on the carpet or grass in an attempt to alleviate that itch or discomfort. Many things cause an itchy bum in dogs, but impacted or infected anal glands are among the most common culprits.

If your dog is scooting regularly, your vet will want to check for inflammation or infection. ©Greg King

Dog anal glands are two small internal sacs positioned on either side of a dog’s anus. In normal dogs, they contain a smelly liquid that’s excreted every time the dog poops (this is likely a mechanism for marking territory). In some dogs, inflammation prevents this liquid from being expelled when the dog poops. Instead, it builds up inside the two sacs, where it can become very thick, more like a paste than a liquid. Full anal glands can be very uncomfortable for the dog and can even become infected.

Other reasons for dog scooting include intestinal parasites (especially tapeworms), injuries or tumors in or around the anus, rectal prolapse and allergies. In addition to your dog scooting, you might also notice him licking his backend excessively.

When to See a Vet About Scooting

If the dog scooting in question happens more than once a day, or if the behavior goes on for more than a day or two, it’s time for a visit to the vet. “The first thing the vet will do is a rectal exam, just to see what’s going on with the anal glands and check for any signs of inflammation or infection,” Dr. Karsten says. Your vet will likely also want to do a fecal exam to look for any signs of intestinal parasites. If the fecal test comes back positive for any parasites, your vet will prescribe a deworming medication to eliminate the worms and put a stop to your dog’s scooting.

On the other hand, if the anal glands are full or look impacted, the vet will attempt to express the glands. “If they’re really impacted, they might not express, and then the vet might need to sedate the dog and put medication into the anal glands to get them cleared out so they stay that way,” Dr. Karsten says. “If it really becomes a chronic issue, some dogs need to have them removed.” Surgery to remove the anal glands can be complex, so your regular vet might refer you to a specialist.

Why does my dog drag its bum on the floor?

Dogs do many adorable things. But they’re also pretty weird and can do some embarrassing (and seriously disgusting) things. However, as off-putting as it might be, dogs are usually just carrying out very instinctive animal behaviors. Dogs are dogs at the end of the day. Understanding why dogs do particular behaviors, like butt scooting, will make it easier to know what weird behavior is actually pretty normal and what is not.