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Dog Scooting: Why do dogs rub their but on the ground?

Long haired dog scooting with a pink background

We don’t like to see our beloved pet’s in pain or behaving in strange ways that cause us concern. Obviously, something is not right, and when our family pet is suffering, it is important that we treat them like the member of the family they are, right? And that means taking them to the vet like we take our children to the doctor when something is not right, not so? One uncommon behavior in dogs is when they rub their butts on the ground, along with the precious carpets, or outside on the grass or wherever they can.

It’s not the right time to get cross with your dog when he scoots, because there are reasons why a pet behaves as he does. When dogs do rub their butts on the ground like that, it’s called scooting, and it’s usually a sign that something is irritating your dog; really bothering him – it could be an infection, it could be worms, or it could be inflammation.

Why dogs scoot could be related to health issues

Bulldog in the back yard scooting on a patch of grass

Anal sac problems

Dogs do a lot of communicating with their rear ends, and it’s usually the fatty and smelly substance that is found in a dog’s anal sacs inside each side of the anus that does the “talking”. These sacs can get blocked or inflamed and can even have abscesses on. In their attempt to relieve themselves of pain and discomfort, dogs will scoot. He might lick the area or chew around that area and he might even have problems defecating. If the sacs are infected, the vet will express the sacs to clear them, and he might administer an antibiotic to treat the infection.

Fecal contamination 

When a dog suffers from diarrhea, he can end up being weak and dehydrated with a messy, uncomfortable bottom. Fecal contamination under his tail can cause him a great deal of discomfort that will cause him to scoot to get relief. The treatment might just require cleaning away the dirty area by trimming the hair, but be very careful you don’t nick your dog’s skin. Then rinse the area with clean, warm water. You need to see the vet if your dog has diarrhea for longer than a day.


A dog might have tapeworms and he will scoot because of this too. A dog gets tapeworms when he swallows worm-infested fleas. Look around your dog’s anus and you will see tiny little segments that look a bit like rice around his anus. They need to be treated though, and the vet will give him a dose of injectable or oral medication. Sometimes garlic is recommended as a natural remedy, but you need to check with your vet about this because garlic can be toxic for a pet as well. And you will need to control the fleas if you don’t’ want the tapeworms to come back which the vet will advise you about.

Bulldog butt laying on a cool floor

Rectal prolapse

This part of the rectum is the portion of the large intestine which protrudes through the anus. A prolapse can occur after a dog has had bad diarrhea or he strains from constipation. If you notice a cylindrical elongated mass sticking out of your dog’s bottom, it is important to take him to the vet. Treatment will vary in that the vet might stitch the anus of the dog to stop a prolapse from happening again. He also might suggest a diet of moist foods or stool softeners so your dog doesn’t strain himself again.

The discomfort of wounds or tumors

A dog will also scoot if there is swelling from wounds or tumors because swelling can indicate an anal tumor. If the swelling has redness, bruising, or discharging, it could easily mean a painful anal abscess that needs urgent attention.

Lumbosacral spine injury and muscle injury

Don’t be surprised, but a lot of high-performance dogs and dogs that suffer from lumbar-sacral injuries can suffer from anal gland problems. When the muscles get tight, the nerve flow decreases, diminishing the anal gland tone, which sometimes means a dog continues to have anal gland issues. Sprinting, ball retrieving and Frisbee should be reduced and more varied exercises offered.

There are also grooming issues

Poodle being groomed with a haircut

You shouldn’t ever let groomers touch the inside of your dog’s ears when grooming or allow them to express your dog’s anal glands. Thing is, the anal glands need to be drained naturally through a good diet. And if the area is inflamed, the vet will drain it correctly. Sometimes groomers can squeeze and force abrasions to develop and then the gland won’t heal. And sometimes they use chemicals around the butt anal area of the dog when they trim and shave and this can cause the dog to itch as well.

Behavioral problems such as scooting occur too

Some dogs develop behavioral or neurological problems that lead to excessive grooming, rubbing or scooting. When dogs chase their tails or they are full of anxiety and fear and suffer from neurological impairments that cause numbness or tingling, they could scoot.

How to help your dog

Italian Greyhound looking like it is scooting with a grey background

Scooting isn’t common dog behavior, so if your dog is doing it, there’s a reason. Dog owners can start by lifting their dog’s tails to check for any irritations like swelling. Anything that does not look ‘right’ needs to be checked by a vet. When it is a small puppy, you can help by doing routine and gland maintenance checks and you can learn how to express the anal glands yourself. But first, ask for a demonstration from your vet because you can just worsen the situation if you don’t do it properly. Diet is also a top priority when it comes to dog health issues and anal glands also benefit greatly from a dog being feed holistic meals.

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What you can do to try and stop scooting in your dog

  • Do try and feed a raw diet.
  • Do give your dog probiotics and prebiotics.
  • Do give your dog plenty of exercise.
  • Do treat allergies in your dogs.
  • Don’t express your dog’s anal glands or let your groomer do it.
  • Don’t have the anal glands removed.

Take good care of your dog – if you notice your companion is persistently licking his anal area or scooting, or he appears distressed and uncomfortable, speak to your vet because treatment can often be quick and easy, and it might save precious rug from any further onslaughts.

Take the first steps to protect your furry friend.

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Molly Bowman author at sitstay.com

Molly Boman
Molly enjoys writing with experience covering topics all about dogs. she is an ardent lover of dogs and all other animals which is where her love of nature comes! When she gets the chance to be in the great outdoors she loves watching her grandchildren play with her pups in the sunshine!

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