Dog scooting, a behavior where your furry friends drag their hindquarters on the ground, is more than just an awkward moment. While it can sometimes be a source of amusement, it may indicate underlying health issues or discomfort in dogs. It’s essential to understand what prompts this behavior and how you can alleviate any discomfort they might be experiencing.
This guide is designed to enlighten pet owners about the common causes of dog scooting and provide home remedies to help mitigate this behavior. This article aims to ensure the well-being of your beloved canine companions by equipping you with the necessary knowledge about this often misunderstood behavior.
What is Dog Scooting?
Dog scooting, also called ‘scootching,’ is a behavior in dogs where they drag their bottoms across the floor or grass. Dogs do this by sitting down, extending their hind legs straight, and pulling themselves forward with their front legs. The motion is similar to a human doing a ‘seated walk.’ You may also witness them dragging their hind legs while walking like a limping dog, which is also a form of scooting.
While it might look funny or odd, scooting is often a sign that your dog is trying to relieve discomfort or itchiness. It’s important to remember that scooting is not a disease but rather a symptom of an underlying issue that must be addressed. These issues can range from parasites and allergies to anal gland problems, so a dog that’s frequently scooting is a dog that needs your attention.
Common Reasons for Dog Scooting
Dogs scoot for various reasons, and identifying the root cause is essential in providing appropriate treatment. Some of the most common causes of dog scooting include the following:
Anal Gland Issues
One of the most common reasons for dog scooting is discomfort in the anal glands. These two small, grape-sized pouches are on either side of your dog’s anus, secreting a liquid for marking territory during defecation. Sometimes, these glands can become impacted or infected, causing discomfort, swelling, and even pain for your dog. If your dog is frequently scooting, licking, or biting their backside or has a foul-smelling discharge, it could be a sign of anal gland issues.
Canine allergies can also cause scooting behavior. Dogs can have allergic reactions to foods and environmental factors like dust, pollen, dust mites, or even parasites. These allergies can cause skin irritation, leading to itching and discomfort around the anus. Symptoms of allergies can include dog wheezing, scooting, excessive scratching, redness, and inflamed skin. Some dogs may also experience gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea.
Infections or Irritation in the Anal Area
Infections or irritations in the anal area can result in significant discomfort for your dog and lead to scooting. Such conditions may arise from untreated open wounds, bacterial or fungal growth, or even ingesting non-food items that irritate them during defecation. Symptoms may include scooting, difficulty sitting, loss of appetite, or a visible wound or swelling near the anus. A visit to the vet is necessary if you suspect an infection.
Parasites, such as tapeworms, can be another cause behind your dog’s scooting. These parasites attach themselves to your dog’s intestines and lay eggs, causing itching and discomfort. Sometimes, you might see small, rice-like pieces in your dog’s stool or near the anus. Other symptoms can include weight loss and changes in appetite.
A sudden change in your dog’s diet or feeding them low-quality food can lead to dog scooting. Poor nutrition can result in indigestion, loose stools, or diarrhea. This condition can irritate the anal area and cause your dog to scoot. Ensure your dog has a balanced fiber-rich diet to promote easy and regular bowel movements.
Tumors or Growths
While less common, tumors or growths around the anus or in the anal glands can lead to scooting. This condition is more prevalent in older dogs and requires immediate medical intervention. Symptoms may include visible lumps, difficulty defecating, blood in the stool, dog prolapse, and, of course, scooting. If you suspect your dog might have a growth, seek veterinary advice immediately.
Sometimes, dogs might ingest foreign bodies like bones, toys, stones, or other non-digestible materials that can lead to irritation during defecation, causing your dog to scoot. If your dog has a habit of eating non-food items, monitoring their play closely and limiting access to small objects they might swallow is crucial.
Home Remedies for Dog Scooting
Regular Anal Gland Expression
Regular expression or ’emptying’ of your dog’s anal glands can help prevent discomfort and reduce scooting. It’s essential to learn the correct technique for this process, as incorrect handling can cause harm to your pet. Your vet can guide you through the process initially, or if you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself, it can be done by a professional groomer or veterinary technician during regular pet grooming sessions.
Keeping your dog’s anal area clean is crucial in preventing infections that could lead to scooting. Regular baths with mild, dog-friendly soaps can help keep this area clean. After each defecation, ensure that no fecal matter is stuck in the fur that could cause discomfort or infection. If necessary, trim the fur around this area to keep it clean.
If your dog’s diet is causing digestive issues leading to scooting, consider making some dietary changes. Incorporating more fiber into your dog’s diet can help improve digestion and ease bowel movements, reducing the need for scooting. Be sure to introduce any dietary changes gradually to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach.
Soothing Topical Treatments
Consider using soothing topical treatments for dogs experiencing discomfort due to allergies or irritation in the anal area. Products with natural ingredients, such as aloe vera, can help soothe itchiness and inflammation. Always make sure the product is safe for dogs before you apply it.
Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Regular exercise and mental stimulation can help keep your dog’s digestive system healthy, thereby reducing the chances of scooting. Engage your pet in active play, walks, or training sessions daily to maintain their physical well-being and reduce their chances of developing health issues that lead to scooting.
Over-the-counter treatments, like dog-specific antihistamines for allergies or deworming medication for parasites, can also help manage underlying conditions leading to scooting. Cerenia is also a popular prescription for gastrointestinal issues in dogs. However, you should always consult a veterinarian before administering new medication to your pet. It’s crucial to follow the vet’s instructions for dosage and administration to ensure safety and effectiveness. For example, Cerenia can kill dogs if the dosage is incorrect.
Professional Veterinary Care
Last but not least, regular vet check-ups can help catch and address any potential issues early. Remember, while these home remedies can alleviate some causes of scooting, they are not a substitute for professional veterinary care. If your dog continues to scoot even after trying these remedies, or if you notice any of the more severe symptoms mentioned above, it’s essential to consult your vet immediately.
Dog scooting may seem harmless, but it’s crucial to understand that it can indicate underlying health issues. Identifying the root cause of your dog’s scooting and providing appropriate treatment is essential in ensuring their well-being and comfort. With these home remedies and veterinary care, you can help your furry friend relieve discomfort and prevent future scooting incidents. Remember, a happy and healthy dog makes for a happy home. So, keep an eye out for these signs and give your furry friend the love and care they deserve.