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As a dog owner and a veterinary assistant, I have often asked our veterinarians many questions due to curiosity or due to a pet problem I am dealing with. Most recently, I asked “Why is my dog scooting?”
I noticed at home that our Papillion mix was scooting across the carpet in our living room and wanted to lick at his rear end which alarmed me. My first reaction was to check his rear end for anything stuck in his hair around the anus. Occasionally, when dogs have a bowel movement, they will unfortunately get some material stuck to their hair around the anus which can cause some irritation. I also looked at the skin on his rear end for signs dermatitis (skin irritation) which can include inflammation, bumps, or redness. After investigating the problem area and not seeing anything wrong, I made an appointment and took him in to see my veterinarian.
A dog scooting and/or licking can be caused by many possible reasons such as intestinal parasites, allergic dermatitis, behavioral issues such as boredom or finding a new way to itch their rear end, or full anal glands. It is always best to consult your veterinarian for medical or behavioral pet problems.
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We spoke to Dr. Ku for advice about a pet scooting. She responded, “Most often scooting is the result of some type of physical irritation to the area around the anus that is difficult to reach any other way. The act of scooting also helps apply pressure to the anal gland area and sometimes can allow a dog to self express a mildly plugged or inflamed anal gland and/or duct (the short passageway from the gland on either side of the anus and out to the edge of the rectum). Most groomers will help dogs express their anal glands by applying external pressure such as would happen with scooting. But if the duct is plugged or the gland is infected, the itchiness can sometimes be so intense that the animal scoots repeatedly to alleviate the itch, yet is unable to self express the glands. This is when a trip to your veterinarian is best as he/she can do an internal expression and treat any infected glands. If left untreated, the area can actually rupture and the pet will develop a bigger problem.
Parasites, such as fleas or intestinal parasites can also cause itchiness that leads to biting, licking, and scooting. Of course as you did, examining the area for any debris or irritation (I’ve occasionally had to pull out a long hair or blade of grass that wouldn’t come out on its own!) is always the best thing to do first. Fecal parasite tests and regular parasite control can help prevent many of these issues too.
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Lastly, as you mentioned, dermatitis, or skin infection or irritation can also lead to itchiness and scooting and biting or licking. This can be caused by allergies (to food or environmental allergens) or yeast or bacterial infections. Determining which of these issues the cause is can take some investigation but generally, it can be resolved and should be, before more harm is done.
And by the way, although less common than in dogs, cats can have all of the same issues we just discussed as well. Good luck with Ryker and hopefully he will stop scooting as soon as we can get to the bottom of it…no pun intended lol! ;)” -Dr. Gloria Ku
Thanks Dr. Ku! After Ryker’s exam, we have a better understanding of what we can when our little doggie starts scooting again!