It's embarrassing when your dog suddenly sits and scoots across the grass at the dog park. It's disgusting when he does it on the living room carpet. Scooting, or rubbing the rear end along the ground, is a common behavior in dogs that has various causes.
Your first thought when seeing Fido stop, drop and scoot might be that he has worms. And it is possible that this is the cause of the discomfort that leads to scooting. Tapeworms are especially likely to cause an itch as the segments of the worm crawl out through the dog's anus. Look for the telltale signs: white segments that look like grains of rice clinging to your dog's rear end or on top of his stools. If you see tapeworms, visit your vet for medication. Even if you don't spot worms, it's worth having Fido's stool checked for parasites if scooting is frequent.
Something is Stuck
Dogs are always looking for their next snack, but their concept of food doesn't always match yours. It's not unusual for a dog to eat paper towels, cotton swabs, plastic bags or even socks. Luckily, most unusual items pass through Fido without harm, but occasionally, might only make it part of the way out. If your dog suddenly scoots, and you notice something hanging or sticking out of his rear, it is likely that something Fido ate is stuck. Cover your hand with a paper towel or disposable glove, and very gently try to pull the foreign object out of Fido's rear. If it doesn't come out easily, or if Fido struggles, it's time for a trip to the vet.
Anal Gland Impaction
The most common cause of repeated scooting is anal gland impaction. These are small glands on either side of the dog's anus. They produce an oily, smelly substance that are normally released each time Fido poops, and announce to any other dog coming across the poop that this is Fido's territory. These glands can become blocked or infected, leading to swelling and discomfort that the dog relieves by scooting. Other symptoms are redness or even leakage of blood or pus from the glands. Though you can empty impacted anal glands yourself, it's best to have your vet teach you how to perform this task.
Preventing Anal Gland Impaction
Some breeds, especially toy or small dogs, are more prone to anal gland impaction than others, but any dog can experience this uncomfortable malady. Scooting often empties mildly impacted glands, but if the problem is frequent, take steps to prevent it. Feeding a good-quality dog food with meat as the first ingredient, not a grain product, helps keep Fido's digestive system working properly. Dog food should also have plenty of fiber. You can give your dog an occasional snack of carrots, apples, bananas, squash or green peas for extra fiber. Plenty of play and exercise to keep Fido fit and trim helps keeps anal glands healthy.
Living in California, Michelle Ullman is a professional writer with particular expertise in home, garden and pet/nature topics. Her work is published on many websites. She loves crafts and has a deep interest in design and DIY projects.