Tip 81 – Scooting – dog or cat rubs bum on the floor – anal sac problems in dogs and cats
Although more common in dogs than cats, scooting is the action of a pet that drags its bum on the floor. The cat or dog literally moves using its two front paws while its whole backside gets dragged. It may look like the animal has broken or injured its back legs and is using its front legs as crutches, but this is rarely the case. It’s a very unique movement that usually denotes a problem with a dog or cat’s anal sacs. It is also a condition that gets progressively more painful for the animal and should be dealt with ASAP.
The anal sacs or anal glands are a pair of glands that are located just inside your dog’s or cat’s anus. These glands contain an extremely smelly substance. Most dogs empty their own anal sacs through normal defecation and most dog owners never have any problems during their dog’s lifetime. However, sometimes these anal sacs get blocked or irritated and the dog will scoot in order to try and relieve the problem. They may also start chasing their tails and licking their anal region and fur around their tails. Cats will often obsessively start licking their anal areas and fur around their tails.
In order to relieve the problem, the anal sacs must be emptied or expressed by either gently pushing on the exterior parts of the anus (at 4 O’clock and 8 O’clock if you imagine your pet’s anus to be a clock) or if that doesn’t work, by seeing your veterinarian who will squeeze the glands inside your pet’s rectum. Any dog owner can learn how to do this but the horrific smell and possible mess make the majority of dog owners seek a veterinarian. If you would like to learn this technique, we recommend that you ask the vet for a demonstration the next time your dog has a problem, and then you should feel comfortable doing it yourself if you can handle the smell. Once the sacs have been emptied (on occasion it takes more than one session to empty them completely) the scooting may not stop immediately but should stop within a few days. A scooting problem that involves the anal sacs needing to be emptied becomes VERY painful for a dog or cat if it is left untreated and can easily cause an abscess or rupture.
It should be noted although scooting USUALLY denotes an anal sac problem, scooting can also be the result of tapeworms, a back injury, ulcers near the anus or other problems. Seek veterinary care to diagnose and treat any scooting problem in your dog or cat.