January 15, 2009 "Ask Seth"

Why does my dog scoot across the carpet after going to the bathroom?

Dear Seth,

Why does my dog scoot across the carpet when he comes in from using the bathroom?



Your dog is scooting across the floor to assist in emptying his anal sacs. Anal sacs (also called anal glands) are two small glands in the anus that secret fluid when the animal defecates. The material secreted is thick and foul smelling. If these sacs do not empty voluntarily, they can become impacted and uncomfortable. Scooting is a way for the animal to attempt to ease the discomfort and empty the anal glands.

There are two ways to express the anal glands, internally and externally. Internally expressing of glands should be done by a trained professional, but the external expression can be attempted at home with your veterinarian approval. This can be achieved by using a tissue or paper towel placed over the anus and gently applying rolling pressure from the sides towards the center of the anus. If the secretions are pasty, this method may not be enough to empty the anal sacs. Scooting should resolve in a few days if completed properly. If your dog continues "scooting", please see your veterinarian to make sure the sacs have emptied completely and not become impacted. If the anal sacs are not emptied, an abscess can form and rupture through the skin. This results in a painful, smelly mess. It is often mistaken as rectal bleeding. If you suspect an abscess, see your veterinarian for appropriate treatment and antibiotics. Your vet may also change your pet's diet to a higher fiber diet to produce a bulkier stool that may assist in emptying the sacs as they pass.

Seth Mayersohn, CVT

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