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Why does my dog scoot?

Anal Gland issues

When a dog's anal sacs are irritated or infected, blood flow to the area increases. The anal area becomes hot, swollen, and painful. This inflammation causes the tiny ducts that empty the anal sacs to swell shut. With the ducts swollen shut, the material within the sac dries out and hardens, first into a paste, then into a hard, gritty material. If the sac is not expressed manually or opened surgically, it bursts, creating an open, draining tract through the skin.

All dogs have two anal sacs just under the skin below the anus. Anal sacs are round little pouches approximately pea-sized in small pets and grape-sized in large pets. They secrete a thin, yellow-to-brown, foul-smelling material that is automatically dripped onto your dog's feces as he or she defecates. This material communicates information to other animals.

To find the anal sacs, lift your dog's tail, and look in the four o'clock and eight o'clock positions around the anus. Normally, sacs are barely visible because they are soft and compressible, but the opening of a single tiny duct that travels upward from each of the sacs may appear as a light dot. If the anal sacs appear obviously swollen and visibly large, or if they are hard, your pet has a medical problem and it should be addressed by your veterinarian.

Some call the anal sacs "anal glands," but the glands are actually inside the sacs and produce the material that is secreted.

What causes my dog to scoot?

Anything that causes itching, pain, or a dirty bottom can cause scooting. For example, anal sac inflammation, food allergies, and a low-fiber diet are common causes of scooting. Below, the causes of scooting are listed according to whether they cause itching, pain, or a dirty bottom.

When dogs scoot, they slide their bottoms (anus) across the floor or carpet. Scooting is not a healthy activity because it drives bacteria into your dog's skin and into the anal sac ducts. Your dog's entire bottom can become hot, swollen, and infected. Food allergies and anal sac inflammation are two common causes of scooting.

Scooting is as unhealthy for the floor as it is for your pet because it deposits bacteria, a foul odor, and sometimes fecal material, on the floor.

Anal sac inflammation and scooting is a chicken and egg scenario because inflammation caused by any factor—such as fleas, ringworm, or food allergies—can lead to scooting and scooting can lead to inflammation.

Anal sac inflammation is common in the following circumstances:

Pets eating low-fiber diets designed to create low-residue stools because the sacs are not emptied by the stool when they defecate.

Pets with food allergies because allergies cause the bottom to itch, and pets to scoot, driving in bacteria that cause inflammation.

Pets that require regular clipping because clipper burn can cause pain, which leads to scooting and inflammation.

Pets whose anal sacs are emptied frequently, but not completely.

Constipated pets with small, hard stools, which occurs when pets are not eating.

Pets that are not getting enough exercise to stimulate bowel movements.

Dehydrated pets, such as senior pets with kidney disease, who become constipated because the stool lacks moisture.

If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, please call the office today to make an appointment.


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