Updated November 29th, 2020
‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ Emergency Care
Why Dogs Rub Their Bottom
- Two very common causes of scooting are skin allergies and anal glands
- Other causes include skin diseases, diarrhoea, worms or excessive hair
- All dogs scoot occasionally, but if it starts happening more often, it’s time to see a vet
Now dive deeper.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! 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.