If your dog does the butt scoot on the carpet you may find the behavior…odd…or embarrassing…or annoying, but you may be left wondering why your dog does it.
It’s really very simple. Your dog probably has impacted anal glands.
What are anal glands?
Dogs have small anal sacs on the sides of their tail. They are located just beneath the skin so most people aren’t aware of them. However, anal gland disease is a common problem in dogs.
In modern-day domestic pets, anal glands can often cause health problems. Sometimes the anal gland secretions are not released naturally and build up – leading to thickening of the secretion and clogging of the duct. You may have seen your pet with his tail up, dragging his behind across the floor.
If these small sacs become impacted, infected or abscessed then they can cause your dog considerable pain. This is when your dog may start scooting across the carpet trying to empty the sacs to relieve the pain.
This is an attempt to relieve the pressure and discomfort of impacted anal glands and is called scooting. Scooting can cause damage to the anus and indicates that your pet is having trouble with his anal glands and needs some type of intervention.
Anal glands are for communication
All predators, such as dogs, have anal glands. This is the same gland that skunks use to spray. In the case of the dog the glands are used to mark territory when they defecate or to leave a scent for communication.
When your dog goes potty, these glands are expressed and they leave scent information behind. The anal glands are also one of the reasons why dogs like to sniff each others’ behinds.
That’s where a lot of the important information is kept.
Common causes of anal glad problems
These glands can become impacted or infected for several reasons, often related to your dog’s diet. If your dog is passing stools that are too soft then the glands won’t be able to express themselves normally, for instance.
This is one reason why it’s better to feed foods that produce small, firm stools. Many small and toy dogs are particularly prone to problems with anal glands.
Treatment for inflamed, infected or impacted anal glands
If your dog’s anal glands are impacted they will need to be “expressed.” This means that the material inside the glands will need to be manually removed. This is not an easy job and it is certainly a smelly, distasteful job. It’s usually best to allow a veterinarian to express the anal glands or to show you how to do it.
If you hurt your dog expressing the anal glands then they can become infected. With some dogs who have chronic problems the anal glands may need to be expressed every couple of weeks. There is a terrible odor to the material in the anal glands.
If the anal glands are infected or abscessed then you need to take your dog to the vet. He will most likely need antibiotics to help clear the infection.
If your dog has chronic anal gland problems your vet may recommend removal of the glands. This will eliminate the problem. However, there can be later complications such as fecal incontinence.
Dogs who have frequent problems with their anal glands may need to be on a high fiber diet to make the stools bulkier. This puts more pressure on the anal glands and encourages them to express themselves when the dog potties. If you are feeding your dog a diet that is low in fiber you may want to investigate a dog food that has more fiber..
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