A very common question heard in canine small animal practice is “Why does my dog scoot its rear end so much?” Probably the most common cause of this in most pets is impacted anal sacs (i.e. anal glands), which, if not manually expressed, may lead to secondary infection, abscess formation, and even anal sac rupture.
The anal sacs are two small glands located at 4 and 8 o clock from the anal opening. While most dogs will express these glands on their own during their normal bowel movements, in some pets these glands become impacted. While excessive weight, dietary factors and/or lack of exercise of domestic dogs are believed to be common factors increasing risk of anal sac impactions, in the vast majority of cases, no underlying causes are identified. In most cases, manual expression will relieve the symptoms for a period of time; however, some dogs do tend to have recurring issues of the anal sacs.
Increasing exercise, as well as adding extra soluble fiber to meals, such as Metamucil or the veterinary product Vetasyl, may help lessen recurrence in some animals. On rare occasions, veterinarians may elect to remove the anal sacs; however, such a surgical procedure does carry certain risk, as occasionally complications may occur, including the development of fecal incontinence.
Finally, veterinary dermatologists are now recognizing that some animals with chronic inhalant/contact allergies and/or food allergies, also may scoot as part of their allergic manifestations of their skin disease. In these cases, addressing the underling allergic causes will result in dramatic improvement of the symptoms of scooting. Occasionally tapeworm infections, as well as inflammation of the colon (known as colitis), may also lead to anal scooting in some pets. Treatment of these conditions will also result in dramatic relief of scooting pets.