For those in the know, scooting behavior is when a pet drags their bottom on the floor. The way they do this is often comical, but it can be a sign that something is wrong with the hind end, or more specifically, the perineal region.
Both dogs and cats can scoot. Though there are many reasons why scooting occurs, the end result is that the perineal area is uncomfortable, and scooting provides some relief. Scooting can be normal behavior when it occurs after voiding, especially if your pet cannot get back there to lick themselves clean. When it happens in the house, or multiple times a day, there may be a more serious concern that needs to be addressed.
Most owners think that scooting equates to a problem with the anal glands. Dog and cats have 2 small glands (sacs) on either side of the anus. These fill with a secretion that carries your pet’s particular scent. The sacs empty during defecation, leaving a territorial marker. When the glands get plugged, inflamed or infected, there is discomfort that can lead to scooting. Certain situations put a pet at higher risk for anal sac disease. I find that small breed dogs are prone to this problem in the winter months if walking exercise decreases. Exercise helps stimulate bowel movements, so less walks mean less opportunity for the glands to empty. Intact male dogs have a thicker anal ring that can impede the release of secretion and put them at higher risk for impaction. Anal sacs are specialized skin glands, so anything that affects the skin may cause the secretion to change and become thicker and harder to expel.
There are many other reasons for a dog or cat to scoot. An overweight or arthritic pet is unable to reach back there for daily grooming, allowing a build up of voiding debris that irritates the skin. Anything that causes the skin to be itchy will encourage scooting, such as allergies, close shaving from a groom, insect bites, and sitting on something irritating. For females, vulvar fold dermatitis, vaginitis and even bladder infections can cause discomfort. Tapeworm parasites are another common reason for an itchy bum.
Persistent scooting is abnormal, so call for an appointment if you see this behavior.
We want your pet to have a ‘Happy Ending’!