Why Do Dogs and Cats “Scoot?”

Oct 17, 2014 @ 10:30 AM — by Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital
Tagged with: Canine Feline

You may see your dog or cat scoot along the floor, dragging their behind. Here are some reasons why your pet may do this, and what should be done if you see it. . .

“Scooting” is the act of rubbing or dragging the anal area or perineum (the area between the anus and the genitals) on the ground. Usually your pet’s hind legs are extended in front as she drags herself forward. Dogs scoot more frequently than cats, but anything that causes irritation or itching in the area under the tail may cause scooting.

The most common cause of scooting is anal sac disease. Small glands near the anus produce small amounts of secretions which are typically expelled during a dog’s normal defecation. When these glands (sometimes called anal sacs) don’t function properly, they can become infected. Diseases can include impacted anal glands, infected glands, or anal gland tumors. Other causes of scooting may include allergic dermatitis (allergies), acute moist dermatitis (hot spots), abnormal materials adhered to the anal area such as hair mats or fecal material, tapeworms, skin parasites such as fleas or ticks, and perianal fistulas.

If your dog is scooting, first look under the tail and make sure there isn’t something stuck in the hair. Something simple, such as feces, can be removed and the problem can be resolved. If there is nothing caught in the hair, the discomfort may be coming from the anal glands. You may see swelling at the “4 o’clock” or “8 o’clock” positions around the anus.  If this happens, or if nothing is visible to the eye, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Only a veterinarian is trained to thoroughly examine the area properly and, for proper diagnosis and treatment, we do not recommend that inexperienced hands, such as groomers or technicians, perform this procedure. Also, if you see a discharge coming from the skin in those areas, it is likely that the anal gland has gotten infected and ruptured. This is painful and requires immediate attention. Your dog will likely need to have the wound clipped, cleaned, and treated with antibiotics and pain medication. When problems are severe or recurring, your veterinarian may recommend removal of the anal glands.

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