Anal Scooting in Dogs

Key Takeaways

Anal scooting describes the behavior of a dog when it drags its rear end across the floor. 

• Usually characterized as sitting, lifting hind legs, and using anterior legs to drag the body forward while the anus area drags on the floor

• This is a common behavior in dogs and it doesn’t necessarily indicate a medical issue

• Excessive scooting or scooting accompanied by other symptoms may be a sign of an underlying condition

• Triggers for scooting range in severity from a simple itch in the anal region to rectal cancer

• Common causes of scooting include anal gland discomfort and parasite infestation

• A physical examination is often sufficient for diagnosis, but other tests include blood work, urinalysis, and fecal analysis

• Treatment, when necessary, depends on the underlying cause and ranges from dietary adjustments to medications and surgery

A Closer Look: What is Anal Scooting in Dogs?

Scooting is often not a medically relevant symptom. It can be as harmless as scratching an itch. A dog may scoot as a normal process for emptying its anal glands, for example. If scooting becomes excessive or if it presents alongside other symptoms (such as visible changes in the external anal area), then it is much more likely to indicate a need for veterinary attention.

Possible Causes

The potential causes include anything that can irritate the perianal area, rectum, or anus.

• Perianal itch • Food allergies • Passing of rough objects (bones, fibers) • Flea infestationFlea allergy dermatitis

• Anal gland infection or abscess (anal sacculitis) • Intestinal parasites (such as tapeworms)

• Vaginal or rectal prolapse • Urinary tract infections (females) • Vaginitis • Perianal cancer

• Perineal hernia • Perianal fistula •Anal gland impaction

Risk Factors

The most notable variation in the severity of the symptom is if it occurs excessively. Excessive scooting may be a sign of an illness or injury, especially if other symptoms are present.

Testing and Diagnosis

When scooting warrants investigation, the diagnostic process consists of a series of common tests, including: 

• Physical examination, including rectal palpation • Stool sample • Radiography or CT scanning • Urinalysis

Treatment varies according to the underlying condition. Treatment might include dietary changes, parasite control, or medications (such as antibiotics, antifungals, or allergy meds). Surgery may be considered as an option for dogs with frequent anal gland impaction. Surgery is necessary for serious conditions such as rectal cancer.

Similar symptoms

Anal scooting is unique and not likely to be confused with other symptoms. Normal scooting that is not cause for concern may be confused with symptomatic scooting that is seen alongside other symptoms of illness.

Associated Symptoms

• Excessive biting or licking of the area • Itchiness around the area • Straining to defecate • Straining to urinate

• Swollen anal glands• Matted fur around the anus

• Skin changes around the anus: swelling, redness, draining sores, fur loss, lumps and bumps

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