Why is my dog scooting?

Scooting, the name for dragging a bottom along the ground, is something that is often done my most dogs at some point in their life. It is commonly as a result of irritation of the bottom area. This can be the skin around the bottom, the bottom it’s self, the anal sacs or the end of the gastrointestinal tract (rectum).

For most dogs it will be as a result of a build up of pressure within the anal sacs (sometimes incorrectly referred to as anal glands). The sacs which are located within the anus have a lining which produces a liquid smelly material. When everything is working well, the glands will express themselves at the same time a stool is passed. The pressure builds up perhaps as a result of thicker than normal secretions or because the stool consistency is poor and squeezing the glands is normally curative of the problem.

If there is inflammation in the area it can compound the problem. Inflammation may be as a result of generalised skin disease (the sacs are derived from skin in the embryo) inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract or specifically located to the sacs themselves. Bacterial infection can make the problem worse and may even cause an abscess that burst through the skin by the side of the bottom.

Adding fibre to the diet is often cited to help, but will only work if it reduces inflammation in the GI tract or improves the consistency of stools. It might therefore, be better to use a specific gastrointestinal prescription diet or a hypoallergenic diet rather than just All-bran.

A good history and clinical examination should help to determine the stage of the disease and perhaps the underlying cause. If there is inflammation or infection, treatment with antibiotic and/or anti-inflammatory medication may be required. One of the best ways of getting the treatment to the area it is required is to put the medication direct into the sacs although it requires a short anaesthetic to get it in the correct place!

In long-standing cases that can’t be treated medically or perhaps if there is suspicion of a growth, surgical removal may be the treatment of choice. This is usually very successful although a discussion about the potential complications should be had prior to the operation.

The good news is most cases are mild and do not cause serious problems apart from the stain on the carpet! If however, you have any concerns or questions please feel free to contact me or seek veterinary advice.