It can be embarrassing in front of guests, and bad news for your new area rug, you’re your pets can’t help it when they scoot their bums across the ground. It’s the only way for them to find relief from a problem they’re experiencing.
Bickford Park Animal Hospital has all kinds of veterinary wellness services in Toronto; we’re easy for you to get your pet to when you need us.
Dogs and cats have different reasons for why they might be scooting. Let’s look at them both.
Sometimes It’s Normal
It’s important to note that although sometimes it can indicate a problem, often bum rubbing (if infrequent and not ongoing) is normal for cats and dogs.
They’re supposed to drag their bums to release their anal glands when they’re full.
We get concerned if they seem uncomfortable and the rubbing seems to be continuous, like they are struggling to get something out.
It should be an occasional occurrence, and once they have done it, they should then stop for days-weeks before they try to do it again.
That said, let’s dig into some of the problems frequent butt-scooting can indicate.
We’ll start with dogs (sorry cat lovers!)
Dogs who scoot are communicating with you that they need your attention, and that something is wrong.
Here are some examples of what those things could be.
1. Anal Sac Problems
The ‘anal sac’ is what is located on either side of their anus, and it provides them with their own unique scent, which they use to communicate with other dogs. That’s why dogs sniff each other’s bums all the time.
These sacs can, however, get abscessed, inflamed or blocked (especially for small-breed dogs).
Your pet will experience this as pain or discomfort, and scooting relieves that temporarily; alternately, they may lick or chew around the area, or have trouble defecating.
Your vet will recommend a treatment involving: increasing dietary fiber, applying warm compresses, prescribing antibiotics or possibly expressing the sacs.
They’re not as common, but trouble with tapeworms might also cause scooting behaviour in your dog.
Dogs can pick up tapeworms by swallowing worm-infested fleas.
In order to prevent tapeworms, you’ll want to get a handle on your dog’s fleas, either through ingestible or topical medications. And make sure you stay away from dogs that have fleas, too.
3. Prolapsed Rectum
While it may look unfortunate, a prolapsed rectum can be easily fixed by a vet – either with a stool softener prescription, a few stitches to partially close the rectum, or possibly through surgery under anesthetic.
A prolapsed rectum often happens after a severe bout of diarrhea or constipation, in which your dog strains too hard.
The prolapse is actually the final bit of the large intestine, which protrudes though the rectum; it will look like a long, cylindrical piece of flesh that is sticking out of your dog’s anus.
As you can imagine, this isn’t terribly pleasant, but your dog’s intestines can be sensitive and fragile, so the longer Fido scoots, the greater your risk of bigger problems.
4. Contaminated Feces
A bad case of diarrhea can cause matting on your dog’s backside, which can generate enough discomfort that your pet will start to scoot.
If it looks like there’s some infection, you’ll want to visit your vet right away; if not, carefully trim away dirty hair, then clean the area thoroughly with warm water.
Diarrhea can lead to dehydration and weakness, so if your dog is afflicted for more than one day, be sure to talk to your vet.
Cats might scoot because they have some hair or other object that is partially holding a piece of feces outside their anus, and they want to dislodge it.
However, here are some other reasons your cat might be dragging their bum.
1. Anal Sac Problems
Similar to dogs, a cat’s anal sac can get inflamed, infected and need the pressure released.
Most cats won’t like this, so your first option is to try to treat it with a warm compress, and try to get more fibre in their diets, or get yourself a pair of chainmail gloves to avoid your cat’s wayward unhappy claws.
Your vet is an expert in helping cats with abscessed or blocked anal sacs, so don’t forget that you can always bring them in to see us for some help.
2. Environmental Allergens
If you notice this behaviour has started shortly after starting a new food, it may be a food sensitivity or allergy.
As well, it can be caused by something around or in your home, including grasses, molds, fleas or dust mites.
Whatever the cause, consider whether there have been any changes in your cat’s environment t lately. This may lead you to the culprit.
3. Parasitic Infestation
Cats are susceptible to parasitic infestations, because there are several ways in which they might be exposed to them.
For example, they may step in infested feces, and then ingest the eggs or larvae when they later groom themselves.
Alternately, they may eat rodents or other prey and get infected when they eat the fleas on that animal that are carrying worm eggs.
Take A Look At Their Bum
It’s probably not something you’re looking forward (or backward) to, but if your pet is scooting you’ll need to get up close and personal with their butt to see.
Get a pair of gloves and try to lift your pet’s tail to check the condition of their anus.
A bad smell will indicate anal sac problems, whereas tapeworms will be identified by little white rice-like pieces surrounding their anus.
Contact Bickford Park Animal Hospital
In many of these cases, you’ll want to get to the vet for treatment as soon as possible.
Contact Bickford Park Animal Hospital now, if you’re noticing your pet scooting.
A quick trip will make things far more comfortable for pet and pet parent alike.
Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.