November 15, 2009 "Ask Seth"

In the past few months I have noticed my dog scooting on the floor. Can you explain?


Dear Seth,

In the past few months I have noticed that my dog is scooting on the floor.  I took him to 2 different vets and they said that because he is overweight (he weighs 44 lbs. is 4 years old) and we give him some table scraps - he may have a problem expelling his rectal gland.  He has been tested for parasites and is negative.  I have decreased his food intake and eliminated table food (although I know my husband still sneaks in a cheese cracker here and there). We never walk him because my husband is in a wheelchair and I work a lot of hours. I just let him out in our big back yard where he runs and relieves himself.  What do you think?

Maria Fiad


Scooting can be cause by a number of things. Parasites can be a culprit, yet you have confirmed that he is negative. Reducing his weight will help him both with this issue and for overall health. Most likely he is not properly expelling his anal glands. When a normal dog has a bowel movement, these two glands are fully expressed. Impacted anal glands occur when the gland is not expressed fully or something is blocking the release. Diet plays an important role. Hill’s Science Diet makes higher fiber food that can help with chronic anal gland impaction. Table scraps cause changes in the consistency of the feces. Different stool consistency does not express the anal gland, thus allowing them to become full or impacted. When this occurs, the anal sac often becomes infected causing discomfort and scooting.

Some cases require manual expression from a veterinarian as well as oral antibiotics. If this resolves the problem, the vet may show you how to express the anal gland at home for maintenance. Remember to do this outside, IT SMELLS. I would recommend the vet do a rectal exam because some animal with anal gland infections can develop masses on or in the anal gland. If diet or antibiotics do not work for you, discuss surgical options with your vet. These are usually same day procedures with minimal surgical discomfort.


Seth Mayersohn, CVT


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