Help! My Dog Is Dragging His Bum

Updated June 6, 2021

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ Emergency Care

Why Dogs Rub Their Bottom

  1. Two very common causes of scooting are skin allergies and anal glands
  2. Other causes include skin diseases, diarrhoea, worms or excessive hair
  3. All dogs scoot occasionally, but if it starts happening more often, it’s time to see a vet

Now dive deeper.

dog riding scooter
No, not like this.
dog scooting bum
Like this.

Scooting. This wonderfully picturesque word describes what all dogs do at times.

It’s not pleasant, or nice to talk about., but it’s VERY common, and can have serious causes.

Thanks to Dr Google, by the time I see them most dogs rubbing their bums have already had several doses of worming. In my 20 years as a vet, I’m still waiting for the dog with worms who scoots!

Why Do Dogs Scoot Their Bottom?

Here are the REAL reasons a dog drags his bottom on the ground from most to least common.

1. Pruritus.

Pruritus is just another name for itchiness.

In Adelaide this is the number one cause of scooting, but you won’t often find it mentioned online. Local knowledge counts!

Dogs in Adelaide have a very high incidence of atopy or allergic dermatitis. When canine skin gets inflamed, it’s always worse in the folded areas: armpits, groin, between the toes and under the tail.

Although a dog can lick and chew under the tail, it’s more effective to give it a good itch on the grass or carpet. And in the process making it worse.

To treat dermatitis well requires a balanced approach of natural home skin care and veterinary skin medication options. Also visit our page on good bathing for dogs.

2. Anal Glands

Dogs have two grape-sized glands just inside the anus, which commonly get overfull and impacted. Dogs clearly find this very uncomfortable, especially when the glands get infected.

As many scooting dogs have impacted anal glands AND itchy skin, it’s sometimes very hard to tell these two apart. The treatment is for the vet to empty both glands, which can be quite tricky. Let’s just say it’s a job for gloves.

Read our Guide To Anal Gland Problems for more information.

3. Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is just the name for abnormally watery or soft faeces. When this happens for more than a few days, the excess moisture causes a rash to form. It can get quite severe, like a bad nappy rash, if not dealt with quickly. A dog will usually rub this on the ground.

Dogs on a stable diet should have consistently formed stools. If this isn’t the case, read our guide to diarrhoea in dogs and contact your vet. Hair on the bottom, like in Poodles, makes any soft faeces more likely to cause irritation.

4. Perivulval Dermatitis

This is really just a special case of itchy skin that happens to female dogs. Risk factors include allergies, obesity and having a recessed juvenile vulva. If weight control and skin care don’t fix the problem, we sometimes perform minor vulvoplasty surgery to create better ventilation.

When we see a puppy at risk, we will recommend deferring desexing (neutering) until after one season.

5. Just Because They Like To

As dog owners know, all dogs scoot a bit. If it’s just once every week or two, it’s probably normal, especially after having a poo or when Aunt Doris is visiting.

6. Worms

I’ve added in worms just in case I’m wrong. Besides, it’s never a bad idea to worm a dog but most dogs with worms have no symptoms at all. If worms fascinate you as much as they do us, visit our page on the worms of dogs. There are pictures too!

As for itchy bottoms, I think this myth comes from humans getting itchy bottoms from worms. Dogs don’t have a worm like our pinworm.

Horses do however, so if you see a horse scooting …

Have something to add? Comments (if open) will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. Meet his team here. The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

18 Replies to “Help! My Dog Is Dragging His Bum”

  1. My dog has always scooted his butt. Had abdominal swelling that went away after around of antibiotics But lately scoots more often and more intently. Licks his bed a lot. Would sweet potato or pumpkin (more fiber) be beneficial until another vet visit? I don’t want to make things worse. Could glands need expressed after only 4 weeks? Could more fiber keep this from happening again?

    1. Hi Raquel. I think the main message from the article is to remember that skin disease would account for 50% of this behaviour, so we always need to look beyond the anal glands for the cause. That’s especially true in your case when the Vet visit doesn’t last the expected time. Regarding your question, I have never seen a response to adding fibre to the diet.

  2. Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for all of that wonderful information. I have a 16 month old Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Clifford. When he was a pup the Vet had to express his anal glands and just told me to keep an eye on it, in case it was an ongoing issue, or that he may grow out of it. At the time he was having some issues with his diet. I now have him settled on very good wet and dry foods and I add extra fibre into his meals. Over the last 10-12 months he has been doing much better. He very rarely has loose stools now, no longer has wind, and he looks healthy/in good condition. I think he may have some food sensitivities and I’m slowly working things out. He is on hypoallergenic foods, with one source of protein, so I can eliminate any problems. He does still scoot now and then, maybe once or twice per week, and just lately he has had days where he is licking his paws a lot. Is it normal for him to still scoot, as long as it isn’t excessively? Or is any scooting a problem? Also, licking paws can be a sign of allergies right? Is there a way of working out if the scooting could be linked to allergies? If there was anything more dangerous going on, such as infections, tumors etc, would he be scooting a lot more often? I guess I just want some reassurance!
    Thanks so much 🙂

    1. Hi Marsha. I think you’ll find in the article I give skin allergies as one of the possible causes of scooting. However, once to twice a week is no concern most of the time.

      1. Thanks for replying Andrew, so very kind of you. His paw licking seems to be getting worse and they do look mildly irritated. I live in the UK and we had snow and ice a couple of months back and feel this could have had something to do with it. I kept his walks to 30 mins or less when the weather was very bad.
        From reading some of your articles, I’m starting to think these issues are all connected, the scooting, licking/biting paws etc.
        I did notice last Summer he seemed to be getting very red eyes after a walk, but were managed by gentle cleaning when we got home. I thought he probably had allergies but assumed he may be more sensitive as he was young at the time. He is currently 16 months old. Do you think it’s more likely to be environmental allergens causing him to itch? I noticed that you didn’t usually think food was a major player. He is flea treated with Advocate from the Vet every month. Should I be doing the house at the same time, or more regularly?
        I’ve tried putting balm on his paws to ease and protect them, but not sure if that’s made it worse. Is there anything I should try? He has no noticeable skin issues apart from slightly irritated paws, they look a little pink with some hair loss, but not red or angry looking, and no sores or wounds. I want to help him but don’t want to make anything worse! I’m sorry to ask so many questions, I don’t know what to do for the best, and hate watching him licking and biting at his paws.
        Thank you so much,
        London UK

      2. Skin allergies in dogs like yours are probably environmental, especially if you have done reasonable flea control as you have. Treating the house won’t have any great benefit, but your dog may need other therapies in time. There are plenty of good options these days.

  3. My dog Sacha started dragging her back end, she also stopped jumping up on the couch and bed etc., vet couldn’t find anything wrong, she gave me metacam it got her back on her feet but she still would jump on couch, she then had a bit of dihorrea, She still wasn’t right took her back to vet she still couldn’t find anything wrong, l then wormed her but that didn’t help. She still is refusing to jump up on couch etc. She is a 6 yr old female cocker spaniel.

    1. Hi Margaret. If a dog is having trouble jumping up then it’s usually caused by pain, and therefore I would assume this is also why dragging the bottom is occurring. The diarrhoea sounds like it could’ve been secondary to the meloxicam being used, but I probably would’ve tried the same treatment if I had seen your dog given the symptoms. I would suggest going back again to look further for what might be causing discomfort around the backend – I am suspecting it’s not a common reason.

      1. Thank you Andrew, l have made another appointment for tomorrow, but l can’t keep paying for consultations when she can’t come up with what’s wrong with her, so hopefully she can at least come up with something.

  4. Thank you so much for your generous advice. Great article.
    As a groomer of 12 years who sees up to 15 pooches butts a day, the No.1 reason on my bench for scooting/licking/chewing is anal glands. 2nd (by a fair margin) is allergies inc. fleas/yeast conditions etc.
    It’s very important to empty the glands carefully and completely for proper relief imho. I also think that owners should be taught how to by a Veterinarian before attempting it themselves. It can be tricky.
    Also, home gland emptiers don’t be fooled by the glands not being obviously full. Sometimes it’s the tiniest amount in only one gland which will irritate a dog enough to react.
    Thanks for the terrific advice as always Walkerville Vet, much appreciated.

  5. My 5yo beagaleir has had his anal glands squeezed by the vet who recommended psyllium mixed with pumpkin. No improvement so will try some bones

  6. Hi My dog has had scooting nearly everyday for 2 months vet has put him on Diet saying it is related to diet ?? has been on the formula for nearly a month ,Still continues to do it specialy at evenings about 1./2 hour after month then smells the area rubs his ear on the area swells in the stomach after food . He jumps in the air when its itchy??I this a worm as he has had his worming done 6weeks ago.Regard K

    1. Hi Kay. You are thinking along the right lines, and the information in this article should help you consider the other possibilities such as skin or anal glands.

  7. My red nose pit bull has scratched and licked himself excessively his whole life at times causing severe skin redness. We have tried lots of things to help with his skin but nothing has stopped it. He is an inside house dog with a very good diet. Do you have any suggestions that you know work

    1. Hi Susan. Without a vet it’s hard to know whether it’s an anal gland or a skin problem but it’s probably one of the two. Good luck.

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