Why Do Dogs Scoot on Their Butts? | Pupford

May 5th, 2023

Filed under Podcasts

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All dogs have butts. And similarly, many dogs will at one point or another scoot on their butt across the floor, grass, or even sidewalk (yep, it happens).

While this behavior can be a bit embarrassing if guests are over, it’s actually something you should try to diagnose and resolve sooner rather than later.

In most cases scooting is just a sign of full or irritated anal glands. But, in some cases, it can actually be a more serious sign of health problems!

So, let’s learn all about scooting. Here’s what we will cover:

  • The main reason dogs scoot, full anal glands
    • What are anal glands
  • Other behaviors/signs you may see associated with scooting
  • Other (less likely) reasons your dog is scooting across the floor
  • What you should do if your dog is scooting
  • What you should NOT do when your dog scoots
  • How to prevent anal gland issues and scooting

Trust me when I tell you that you’re gonna run into this throughout your dog’s life, so it’s important to learn the ins and outs of the scoot.

Let’s scoot right to it (no more puns, promise). 👇

Quick Disclaimer: Scooting and anal gland issues are health concerns. You can use this article as a helpful guide, but your veterinarian is who you should consult if you have questions or concerns. I’m not a vet, I don’t know your dog (unfortunately). Your vet is a vet, and they know your dog. So talk to them!

Related Reading: Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

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THE MOST LIKELY REASON: ITCHY & FULL ANAL GLANDS

dogs scoot typically because their anal glands are full and itchy

If you just want the simple answer, this is it…

The main reason dogs scoot on their butts is that their anal glands/sacs are itchy and/or full.

So, you might be wondering what in the world anal glands are. Let’s cover that. ⤵️

WHAT ARE ANAL GLANDS AND ANAL SACS?

While you’ll more commonly hear the term anal glands, it’s actually the anal sacs that get filled and irritated for your dog.

Let’s break this down as simply as possible.

All dogs, male and female, have anal sacs (inside their anus) that are filled with foul-smelling fluid. The purpose of this fluid is essentially a “calling card” with their information.

PS- That’s part of why dogs like to sniff each other’s butts and feces.

The fluid passes out of the sacs, through a duct, and then out of the anus, typically at the end of a bowel movement.

But sometimes the fluid doesn’t make it out as it should.

When that happens, you get a build-up in the sacs (often stemming from the ducts being clogged or irritated) that causes pain, inflammation, and general discomfort for your dog. This can also turn into Anal Sac Disease, especially if left untreated.

This leads us to why anal glands are often the root cause of a scooting dog… 👇

WHY FULL ANAL GLANDS CAUSE YOUR DOG TO SCOOT

a dog sitting tentatively because their anal glands are in pain

When your dog’s anal glands are full it can be quite uncomfortable for them. Think of how you’d feel if you constantly felt snot in your nose but were unable to blow it out…

Fun topics, right? 😉

Scooting can do two things for your dog:

  1. Comfort and itch relief
  2. Hopefully, it encourages the anal glands to discharge the liquid

Just like how you itch a rash for temporary relief (even though your mom told you not to), your dog might be scooting to “itch” their bum.

While this is the most common reason dogs scoot, there are other behaviors you may see when your dog’s anal glands are full or irritated.

OTHER BEHAVIORS & SIGNS ASSOCIATED WITH SCOOTING & ANAL GLAND PROBLEMS

While we won’t spend too much more time on anal gland issues specifically, it’s important to recognize that scooting isn’t the only sign of anal glands being full or irritated.

Here are some other behaviors you may notice if your dog is having anal gland problems:

  • Itching/scratching the anus
  • Biting/chewing the anus area
  • Excessive licking, often near the base of the tail
  • Not wanting to sit
  • Straining to poop
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or constantly-changing bowel movements can lead to more anal gland backups
  • Other dogs sniffing your dog’s butt more frequently or for an extended period of time, especially noticeable in multiple dog households
  • Swelling and redness around the anus
  • Bad breath, likely from licking the affected area

ALL of that to say, if you see your dog scooting and/or exhibiting some of those behaviors above, you certainly should contact your veterinarian.

OTHER POSSIBLE (BUT LESS LIKELY) REASONS YOUR DOG SCOOTS ON THEIR BUTT

You’re here to understand why your puppy is scooting their bum across the floor, so let’s look at other possible reasons!

This is by no means exhaustive, but can hopefully help you better understand possible reasons for your pup’s scooting.

And as a note, these reasons for scooting are much less likely than anal glands needing to be expressed, but we’re still gonna cover them. ⏬

IRRITATION FROM GROOMING OR EXCESSIVE ANAL GLAND EXPRESSION

sometimes a dog can get anal gland issues from grooming that cause scooting

Yep, sometimes expressing your dog’s anal glands can actually be the cause of scooting and anal gland irritation.

If done too frequently or incorrectly, anal gland expression can actually cause damage to your dog’s anal sacs.

If you take your dog to the groomer, be sure to understand if and how frequently they are expressing your dog’s anal glands.

There can also be cases where your dog can get something similar to razor burn on their bum from grooming. Ouch!

ANAL GLAND ABSCESS

When anal gland issues are left untreated (or for other more complicated reasons) your dog can get abscesses. An abscess is essentially a build-up of pus.

As you can imagine, an anal gland abscess is painful for dogs and can lead to scooting to try to soothe the pain.

POTENTIALLY PARASITES OR WORMS

Before we say anything, yeah it’s super gross to think about.

Unfortunately, it’s been shown that excessive and frequent scooting can actually be a sign of parasites, worms, and all that grossness!

If your dog has been swimming or exploring new areas, be sure to rule out any parasites. You will often see larvae and/or worms in your dog’s stools as well.

Consult your vet and they can run a stool test to determine if your dog is suffering from parasites or worms.

ALLERGIES OR OTHER ITCHINESS

sometimes scooting is just a sign of allergies or general itchiness

Sometimes a dog’s allergies to food, their environment, or other general allergies can manifest via an itchy bum for your dog.

And sometimes, a dog’s butt just might be itchy. I mean, we can’t always control where we are itchy, right? 🤷

As we’ve discussed, an itchy bum can often lead your pup to scoot across the ground.

URINARY TRACT INFECTION (UTI)

While this is more common in female dogs, sometimes scooting can be a sign of a urinary tract infection.

Other signs that scooting may be related to a UTI are frequent urination, pain or straining when peeing, or excessive licking of the genital area.

Again, consult your vet if you think your dog has a UTI.

JUST A DIRTY BOTTOM

Let’s just say this… If you didn’t have the ability to wipe after going to the bathroom, how would you try to clean yourself? 😝

A dog may scoot on their butt to attempt to clean themself down there!

Again, check if there is any dirtiness or maybe something stuck down there (looking at you, blade of grass).

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR DOG IS SCOOTING?

if your dog is scooting you should talk to your vet

Alright, now that we’ve covered why dogs scoot their butts across the ground, let’s talk about what you should do if you see it happen.

The very first step would be to inspect your dog’s anus for any discharge, bleeding, redness, irritation, or even something like a stick, hair, or piece of poop stuck on or in their bottom.

If everything looks normal, keep an eye on it.

Did it just happen once? Does it only happen after a certain instance, like going #2? Is your dog showing signs of other discomfort or pain in that area?

If everything else seems fine and the scooting just happens once in a while, it may be totally fine.

But!

As soon as your dog starts scooting frequently, excessively, or for an extended period of time, you should go to your veterinarian.

And of course, if your dog has any blood in their stool, redness or discoloring around their anus, or exhibits any of the other symptoms we mentioned above, go to your vet.

When in doubt, go to your vet.

If you’re not sure, go to your vet.

Maybe you’re on the fence if there is a problem, go to your vet.

Go to your vet. 🙂

I DON’T WANT TO GO TO THE VET, WHAT CAN I DO?

Okay okay, maybe your vet is really far away.

Or maybe finances are really tight and going to the vet might not be feasible.

If that’s the case, try adding more fiber (pumpkin works) to your dog’s diet, and be sure to keep the area around their anus clean.

But seriously, scooting is likely a sign of anal gland issues and it can become MUCH worse if left untreated. What could be a relatively simple and low-cost solution in the early stages can become extremely expensive and problematic if left untreated.

WHAT SHOULD YOU NOT DO WHEN YOUR DOG SCOOTS ON THEIR BOTTOM?

you should not scold your dog for scooting on their butt

While we typically just stand and watch in bewilderment, sometimes there is an urge to intervene when your dog starts to scoot.

Well, you shouldn’t. Let the scooter scoot.

You also shouldn’t punish your dog for scooting. While it’s not going to accomplish anything, it’s also likely going to cause fear, anxiety, and confusion for your pup.

So, let your pup scoot and then take steps to remedy the root cause of the scooting (see sections above).

HOW TO PREVENT ANAL GLAND ISSUES & SCOOTING

While it can be a part of dogs’ lives no matter what (especially for certain smaller breeds), there are some things you may be able to do to prevent anal gland issues and subsequent scooting.

Again, this is not an exhaustive list but can help you make some informed decisions to keep your pup’s anal glands at tip-top (or is it tip-bottom) shape.

LOOK AT THEIR DIET

Nutrition is often one of the biggest culprits of health issues in dogs (and humans).

While I won’t dive into nutrition too far, it’s important to understand that the food, treats, and chews your dog consumes play a large role in their overall health.

As much as your lifestyle and finances permit, feeding high-quality food can substantially improve your dog’s health and well-being. We break down a comparison of kibble vs dehydrated vs raw dog food here.

And as for treats, be on the lookout for treats filled with sugars, fillers, and junk that certainly aren’t necessary (or healthy) for your dog. At Pupford, our treats are made with natural ingredients formulated to keep your pup healthy and happy!

ADD SOME FIBER

a dog eating more fiber to improve their gut health

Similar to the point above, fiber is a valuable part of a dog’s diet. Fiber helps dogs (and us) regulate our bowel movements and generally have a healthy gut and digestive health.

Here are some dog-safe foods that are rich in fiber. Remember, everything should be given in moderation. 😀

  • Broccoli
  • Blackberries and blueberries (in moderation, too much can cause diarrhea)
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin (avoid sugar-filled pumpkin varieties)

As for getting those fiber-rich foods into your dog’s diet, try adding it to a Kong! Here are some easy and healthy Kong recipes for your pup.

DON’T LET YOUR DOG GET OVERWEIGHT

Way too many dogs in the United States (and worldwide) are overweight and/or obese. Check out our full interview with Dr. Sylvalyn Simpson about obesity in dogs, eye-opening for sure!

When your dog is overweight there are a whole host of health problems that can pop up…

  • Arthritis
  • Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Low Thyroid Hormone Production
  • Torn Knee Ligaments
  • Diabetes
  • Diseased Disc in the Spine
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Heart Failure
  • High Blood Pressure

AND… anal gland issues!

Yep, your dog being overweight can lead to more scooting.

So, keep your dog at a healthy weight. If your dog is overweight, consult your vet for a plan on safely reducing your dog’s weight.

LOOK AT SUPPLEMENTS

a gut health supplement can decrease your dog’s scooting

Gut health and the microbiome play a huge role in dogs’ overall health. And when it comes to anal gland issues, that’s even more true!

If your dog is struggling with frequent gut issues, you can look into a supplement formulated to help improve stomach problems.

We offer a Gut Health + Immunity Supplement that contains helpful stomach-improving ingredients like Pumpkin, Chicory Root, and Tynagen. Shop this supplement here!

STAY HEALTHY, EXERCISE MATTERS

While it’s hard to say that exercise will “solve” scooting problems, it surely can help.

Exercise is an important part of a dog’s overall health. Exercising naturally helps dogs to have more consistent potty breaks which can help avoid anal gland issues.

Plus, exercise is a vital part of a happy, healthy, and well-mannered pup. So, go for a run, take a walk, or hike with your dog!

EXPRESS ANAL GLANDS WITH DIRECTION FROM A VET

GIANT DISCLAIMER: You 100000% should consult your vet BEFORE trying to express your dog’s anal glands at home. Doing it wrong can cause serious problems for your dog.

If you aren’t comfortable doing it at home (I totally get it) then work with your groomer or vet to ensure your dog’s anal glands are expressed as needed.

If you have the thumbs up from your vet to do it at home, here’s a quality video about safely expressing your dog’s anal glands. Wear gloves! 😜

Just gonna say it again, do NOT try to express your dog’s anal glands at home without first discussing it with your vet!

RECAP OF WHY DOGS SCOOT ON THEIR BUTT

dogs scoot on their butt for many reasons but it should be monitored

Dogs scooting on their butt across the floor is common. Dogs typically scoot because their anal glands are full, irritated, and/or itchy.

Again, if you suspect this to be the case then please consult your vet. If anal gland issues go untreated they can become increasingly worse for your dog’s health!

And don’t stop your dog mid-scoot. Let them scoot and then work on finding a solution and remedy for the root problem.

As part of a healthy gut, be sure to check out our Gut Health + Immunity Supplement. Since a puppy's gut makes up a large majority of their immune system, it's important to properly care for their microbiome. This supplement has been formulated with optimal ingredients to support a healthy gut!

Shop the Gut Health + Immunity Supplement here!

Have any funny stories of your dog scooting? We’d love to hear in the comments!

PS- What’s the opposite of a dog scooting on their butt..? ⬇️

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