Scooting in dogs

Scooting in dogs is often a sign of anal gland problems, affecting up to 15% of dogs that visit the vet. Some cases may self-resolve within 24 hours, but if it persists, veterinary attention is essential.

While occasionally harmless, scooting can indicate underlying issues like allergies. It’s also known as dragging or rubbing their bottoms. This behaviour needs attention to address the potential health issues and discomfort.


What to do

What you should do if your dog is scooting

Check their bottom

  • Is anything stuck there?
  • Is their bottom red, is there a lump or can you see any wounds?

Gather more information

  • Do they seem painful?
  • Are they struggling to poo?
  • Can they sit properly?
  • Is there a bad smell coming from their rear end?
  • Is this an ongoing problem or is it new?


If your dog is scooting but is not painful, it’s a new problem, and they are otherwise well and pooing as usual:

  • Monitor them for the next 24 hours.
  • Shower the area with running water to alleviate the itching.
  • Distract them by going for a walk and playing.
  • Check if they are due a worm treatment.

If it continues, take them to your local vet.



Why is your dog scooting?

Scooting is a dog’s way of trying to alleviate an itch, irritation, or pain in their bottom, known as the perianal area.

Many different reasons can explain your dog’s discomfort in that region.

The most common causes include:

  • Blocked anal gland
  • Other anal gland disorders (abscess, fistula)
  • Skin and food allergies
  • Intestinal parasites (such as tapeworms)
  • Skin irritation (such as from grooming)
  • Something stuck nearby, like matted hair or poo
  • Tumours (adenocarcinoma usually only causes discomfort if it gets ulcerated)

Many dogs with itchy bums and anal gland disorders have an underlying allergy problem, so if you’re worried about your dog’s itchy bum, talk to a vet.


When to worry

When you should be worried about your dog scooting

Seek help from a veterinary practice if your dog is:

  • Painful
  • Struggling to pass stool
  • Not able to settle

Joii can help if you:

  • Are unsure if your dog has anal gland symptoms
  • See any abnormalities around your dog’s bottom
  • Have any questions regarding your dog’s diet or supplements



How to prevent scooting in dogs

  • Keep your dog up to date with deworming tablets.
  • Provide your dog with good-quality and balanced food.
  • For dogs that need regular anal glands emptied, keep on top of the signs to have them expressed when needed. Some dogs can need their gland emptied every 2 months.
  • Talk to your vets if your dog is also prone to itchy ears and skin. An itchy bottom can easily be a sign of an allergy.



How to know if your dog is bothered about their bum

Symptoms include:

  • Dragging their bottom on the floor
  • Licking their bottom excessively
  • Looking at their back end
  • Tail chasing
  • Straining


Home treatment

How to treat a scooting dog at home

Something is stuck

Use warm water to soften the material, try to cut it off if possible.

If your dog is trying to pass a hard stool, increase their water intake and give them wet food only for that day.

Full anal glands

If your dog’s glands are full but they are not in pain and there are no wounds or lumps. Apply a warm compress for 5-10 minutes, twice or three times a day.

Red bum

If you see redness on their bum, they’re not in pain, with no wounds or lumps. Consider showering the area with running water and applying a thin layer of sudocrem.


If you can see the parasites or know they are due, offer them their usual deworming.

Monitor and distract them with walks and playtime.

  • Call a vet if your dog does not improve within 24 hours after following the above tips.


Vet treatment

Vet treatment for scooting in dogs

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Common treatment will include:

Blocked anal glands

If they are simply full, your vet will empty the glands, and the symptoms should resolve within 24 hours.

If they are impacted, depending on the severity, the glands may also need flushing under sedation.

Other anal gland disorders

Can include infections, abscesses, fistulas and tumours. Treatment will depend on the problem but may include antibiotics, pain relief and, in some cases, surgery.

Food management

Introducing a medical prescription diet may be important not just to improve the quality and fibre intake of your dog, but to cover any underlying diseases.

There are different available brands and more ranges depending on your dog’s needs and underlying medical condition: Hill’s GI Biome, Hill’s z/d or Hill’s Derm Complete.

Speak to a vet for advice.

Skin and food allergies

A multimodal treatment approach usually includes anti-itch medication, skin barrier support and parasite prevention.

Find out more in our skin and food allergies articles.

Intestinal parasites

The frequency of treatment will depend on the type of medication you have available.

It’s usually given every three months, but some prescription dewormers that cover a wider range of parasites need to be given monthly.



Are some dogs more at risk of scooting than others?

Dogs prone to anal gland problems have an increased risk of scooting. This includes dogs with:

  • Low-quality or inadequate diets (especially those low in fibre)
  • Soft stools, diarrhoea, and infrequent bowel movements
  • Skin and food allergies
  • Although all dogs can develop anal gland problems, it’s more common in small breeds, such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Cockapoo, Bichon Frise, and Shih Tzu.
  • Obesity

Body Condition Score (BCS) is a scale that gives a practical evaluation of the fat coverage of your dogs body. By checking how easy or not it is to feel certain bony areas of the body, a score is then produced. There are several scales, from 1 to 5 or 1 to 9. The ideal body condition lies in the middle, so either 3/5 or 5/9.

The body areas normally checked for fat coverage are:

1. ribs and spine

2. hips and shoulders

3. waist

Body condition scoring (BCS) in dogs

Here are a few tips on how to do it.

With your pet in a standing position:

  • Place your hands on the rib cage and gently feel for each rib, without pressing too hard
  • Feel the waist and look from the top and the side (if you have a very furry breed, it may be harder to assess)
  • Feel the spine, which runs down the middle of the back
  • Feel the top of the hips and shoulders

If you need help reducing your dog’s weight, reach out to a vet nurse.


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