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#AskTheVet: Why does my dog scoot it’s bottom?

If you’ve ever owned a dog, you’ve probably seen it this behaviour before. The dog sits on the floor, back legs spread wide, and sort of hotches along dragging its bottom along the floor.

And what's more, you can probably guarantee they’ll do it when Aunty Margaret comes to tea, sending the kids into fits of giggles.

But bottom scooting in dogs is not simply an amusing and embarrassing habit, it can be a sign your dog is in discomfort. Read on to find out more.

What causes scooting?

Anything causing pain, discomfort or irritation of the anal region can cause your dog to scoot. The most common cause is blocked (impacted) anal glands.

Other causes include:

  • Anal gland infections or abscesses

  • Something e.g. stick or a piece of faeces (poo), stuck to their bottom

  • Intestinal parasites (worms)

  • Skin allergies

  • Growths (tumours)

What are anal glands?

The anal glands are paired sacs that sit just inside the anus. They secrete a strong smelling liquid, which plays a role in territory marking.

Normally, the contents of the anal glands are squeezed out as a firm stool passes through the rectum. If they do not do this, they can become over full and uncomfortable for the dog.

Will my dog show any other signs?

You might notice your dog has a strong fishy odour. They may also:

· Sit down suddenly

· Turn to look at their bottom

· Lick or chew their bottom

· Repeatedly lick or chew another area of skin nearby e.g. the thigh or hip

What should I do if my dog starts scooting their bottom?

If your dog will let you, lift up their tail and check there is nothing obvious causing the irritation.

Unless you see an obvious and easily fixed cause (such as a piece of stick or poo stuck to their fur), get them checked out by a vet. Don't leave it too long, as left untreated, blocked anal glands can develop into more serious issues such as infections and anal gland abscesses.

The vet will examine your dog’s bottom and if necessary, express (empty) the glands for them. Do not try to empty the glands yourself as you pain cause further pain and damage.

How can I prevent anal gland impaction in my dog?

Prevent your dog becoming overweight as obesity increases the risk of anal gland impaction.

Feeding your dog a good quality, complete diet will not only keep them in shape, but will help ensure their stools are firm enough to empty the glands as they pass through the rectum.

If your dog repeatedly suffers from anal gland impaction, adding fibre to their food can help. Speak to your vet for more information.

As always, for any concerns about your dog's health - always speak to your vet.

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