Health & Wellness

Why do dogs drag their butts?

Some common causes for the behavior

Butt-dragging, carpet-surfing and tail-scooting are all colorful terms that describe one of our canine companions’ more unusual actions: rubbing their butt along the floor. But why exactly does your dog drag their butt on the ground? Fetch asked veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward to highlight some common causes.

Anal sac issues

By far the most common cause of scooting in dogs is full anal sacs. The anal sacs are two small glands located around the anus. These glands secrete a dog’s unique identifying aroma—which is why dogs sniff each other’s behinds when greeting. But they can be uncomfortable if they’re too full.

Dogs relieve painful pressure caused by full anal sacs by dragging or rubbing their rear along the floor. f you notice a discolored trail or an excessively smelly fog following your dog’s ground gyrations, full anal sacs may be to blame. 

If you see them scooting, look for bleeding, bruising, pus or swelling. If you notice anything else unusual, take them to the vet. Why? It’s difficult to tell the difference between full anal sacs and more serious infections.While most dog insurance plans do not cover anal sac expression on its own, if the issue is related to an injury or illness, the treatment and exam costs can be covered. 

Allergies

After anal sac issues, allergies are the second leading cause of tail-dragging, ranging from seasonal allergies, to flea and insect bite reactions and food sensitivities. If your dog is scooting and scratching, an allergy is likely the culprit and your vet will treat both problems with appropriate allergy medications and supplements.

Parasites

Another unfortunate cause of butt dragging is a tapeworm infection—that causes an intense itching around the anus. You can spot a tapeworm by its tiny egg-carrying segments that look like rice and show up in your dog’s poop. Giardia is another type of microscopic organism that can cause discomfort, which your vet will need to diagnose through a stool sample. In general, any dog with recurring tail scooting should be tested for parasites.

Pain

Pain from the lower back and hips can also cause butt-dragging in some canines. If your dog is constantly licking their rear and the anal sacs appear normal, pain may be the culprit. 

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Skin infections

Bacterial and fungal skin infections can also cause itching and burning in the hindquarters. Female dogs may develop a yeast infection in their privates that can mimic anal sac problems. Bladder or urinary tract infections (UTIs) can also cause scooting, and cost dog parents $435 on average to treat the issue, according to Fetch claim data. Another reason why it pays to have pet insurance.

Behavioral or neurological problems

Lastly, some dogs will develop behavioral or neurological problems that lead to scooting. Obese dogs may excessively scoot without a clearly identifiable cause (losing excess weight usually cures the condition), as well as dogs that have had certain surgeries, especially spinal procedures, may develop abnormal symptoms related to nerve damage.

Though these are some of the more common causes of butt scooting in dogs, you know what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to your pet. If your dog scoots more than a couple of times a day or for 48 hours, have them checked out by your vet—and in the meantime, break out the vacuum and disinfectant.

Dr. Ernie Ward

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Photo by Kev Costello on Unsplash

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