Spend enough time around dogs and you’ll eventually see one drop his butt to the ground and pull himself forward with his front legs.  This is often called scooting and is not a sign of a particular disease, just an indication that a dog’s butt is itchy or otherwise bothering him.

You probably have heard that scooting is an indication that a dog has worms.  While this is sometimes true, in which case a wormer is necessary, the most common culprits are actually the anal glands. Canine anal glands are located one on either side of a dog’s anus, roughly at the five and seven o’clock positions.  The contents of a dog’s anal glands are supposed to be released when he defecates as part of his scent marking behavior.  When this doesn’t happen normally, the glands become very full and uncomfortable.  By scooting, a dog is attempting to put a little pressure on the glands and open up the ducts that drain them to find relief.  This isn’t always successful and in extreme cases, anal gland can become impacted, infected, and even rupture.

So, if your dog scoots frequently, it’s important to see your veterinarian.  He or she can diagnose the cause, and if full anal glands are to blame, empty them.  If you are an extreme do-it-yourselfer, your vet can show you how to do this at home, but make sure you have an ample supply of exam gloves and odor eliminator on hand!  Perhaps a better option is to increase the amount of fiber in your dog’s diet.  Bulky stools can help the anal glands release their contents on their own, which means that nobody has to take on the unpleasant task of expressing your dog’s anal glands.