Why Do Dogs Rub Their Butts Across the Floor?

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"I thought the dance was called 'butt-scooting boogie.'"
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There's nothing like a dog scooting his butt across the floor to stop a conversation. He's not doing it to get attention. Something is irritating his anal area. A dog who scoots more than once in a while needs a veterinary checkup. The most likely reason for his frequent butt rubbing involves problems with his anal sacs, located on either side of his anus. Fortunately, treatment is usually simple, although rather unpleasant.


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Anal Sacs

If you've noticed that your dog enjoys sniffing any canine feces he comes across on your walks, there's a good reason for his behavior. Those droppings contain information about the dog who left them, courtesy of his anal sacs. When a dog poops, his anal sacs secrete a foul-smelling substance that acts as personal dog identification. Your dog's anal sacs also contain sweat glands. If the sacs become blocked or inflamed, the resulting butt rubbing is your dog's effort to ease the irritation.


Anal Sac Disorders

Your veterinarian can determine whether your dog's anal sacs are impacted -- the most common reason for butt scooting -- or whether he's suffering from an infection or abscess. Rarely, anal sac disorders result from cancer. While any dog can suffer from anal sac problems, these issues more often affect small dogs than large breeds. Obese dogs are more prone to anal sac difficulties.


Signs of Anal Sac Problems

Other signs of anal sac disease besides butt scooting include constant licking or biting of the anal area. If your dog experiences difficulty defecating, his anal sacs could be the source of his discomfort. Dogs with impacted or infected anal glands strain to relieve themselves. While you can feel an anal sac impaction -- it's a thick lump in the area of the sacs -- it's painful and your dog might yelp or bite. An abscessed anal sac appears as an open wound after it bursts.


Diagnosis and Treatment

Your veterinarian can diagnose an impaction via physical examination and blood tests for infection. She can manually express the sacs and prescribe antibiotics if an infection is present. If your dog suffers from an abscess, he'll require surgery to lance and flush out the infection. She might recommend dietary changes for your dog, including additional fiber. If your dog requires regular anal gland expression, your vet can teach you how to do it. While a disagreeable procedure, it's not particularly difficult.


Other Reasons for Rubbing

While anal gland issues are the primary reason for butt rubbing, there are other causes. If a dog's rear end becomes particularly dirty, perhaps after suffering from diarrhea, he might scoot to relieve itching and discomfort. Check under your dog's tail for any fecal contamination and clean and trim his hair appropriately. Dogs with tapeworms also might scoot. Your veterinarian can test a fecal sample and prescribe a dewormer.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.