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French Bulldog scooting on a carpet

Why does my dog scoot on the carpet?

If you’re a dog owner, you’re likely watchful for any signs that your pet may be in discomfort or having a health issue. A common behavior that could indicate a larger problem is scooting—when a dog drags its hind end along the grass or carpet.

Scooting has several potential causes, some of which may require veterinary care. But(t) how can you know when your pet’s scooting is a sign of a clinical problem? Let’s look at a few potential causes of scooting, as well as their treatments.

Causes of Scooting in Dogs

A dog that “scoots” its anus along the ground, lawn, or rug may do so for several reasons.

Anal sac problems. They are the most common cause of scooting in dogs. Blockage of the glands or associated ducts can irritate your dog—and scooting is your pet’s attempt to unblock and relieve pressure the gland. Correction of the problem usually requires veterinary care to express the sacs, clear any blockage, administer antibiotics, or recommend dietary changes to prevent flare-ups.

Fecal contamination. This can cause bacterial buildup, irritation, and infection around the perianal area. Dogs suffering a bout of diarrhea or runny stools can be especially vulnerable to this condition. Trimming away any affected fur and washing the area gently with warm water can reduce bacterial overgrowth and irritation, often without additional treatment.

Intestinal parasites. Tapeworms, and other intestinal parasites, can also cause your dog to scoot. Tapeworms can be diagnosed visually, as bits of the parasite appear as tiny rice-grain-sized segments on your pet’s perianal area. Tapeworms are easily treated using oral or injectable medications. Oral tapeworm meds can be purchased over the counter.

Rectal prolapse. A condition in which part of the lower intestine protrudes through the anus—can also result in irritation and “scooting.” Rectal prolapse, while not difficult to repair, does require surgical intervention.

Your Dog’s Anal Glands

Dogs are territorial animals that communicate largely by scent. When your dog defecates, the glands near the anus produce an oily, foul-smelling substance that lets other dogs know that the territory is marked. The substance secreted by the anal glands also tells other dogs the age, gender, and reproductive status of the animal that lefty its mark. These glands and their associated ducts, however, can become blocked, inflamed, or abscessed, resulting in significant discomfort. Dogs with a blocked gland or duct frequently scoot to relieve irritation and express the gland.  

When to See the Vet

Scooting is common and often requires no medical intervention. However, it’s important to know when it’s time to call the vet. Contact your vet if:

  • Scooting does not resolve on its own
  • Your dog persistently licks the perianal area
  • Your pet shows signs of irritation or pain
  • Your pet shows signs of inflammation in the area

Veterinary treatment is often simple if the problem is addressed early.

Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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