Scooting is one of two ways (the other being licking) that pets can relieve themselves from anal discomfort. The most common reason for an animal to be scooting is because of full or inflamed anal glands.
What are anal glands?
There are two anal glands located on either side of the anus that produce an oily, horrible-smelling material used for scent marking. In a normal animal, a small amount of this material is removed with normal defecation (pooping). However, sometimes these glands can become obstructed or infected, causing a lot of discomfort for your pet.
What should I do if my pet is scooting?
First of all, don’t punish them, he or she is just “scratching an itch”. You should have your pet examined by a veterinarian. A simple physical exam (including a rectal exam) will help determine if your pet has an anal gland obstruction or something more serious. If this is a frequent problem with your pet, you can ask your veterinarian how to express your pet’s anal glands at home – it’s not too difficult, but somewhat unpleasant.
How do I know if my pet’s anal glands need to be emptied?
Most pets never need their anal glands emptied as they empty with normal defecation, however some pets may have underlying diseases such as obesity or diarrhea which will results in their glands not properly evacuating. These pets may need regular emptying of their anal glands; underlying problems should be discussed with your veterinarian. Other pets may simply not be able to empty them normally – you will often notice your pet scooting or licking their anal area; alternatively you may notice a horrible smell – all of these may indicate the anal glands may be impacted.
What other things may cause scooting?
Sometimes anal glands can become infected and your pets might need to be on antibiotics, and have a minor surgical procedure (“lancing”) performed to allow the pus to drain out. Diarrhea and parasites can also cause irritation around the anus and warrants further testing and treatment. You should bring a stool sample to the vet in case they want to test it. Other problems such as anal tumors (cancer) can occur, which is why a veterinary exam is so important.
Can I have my pet’s anal glands removed?
There is a surgical procedure to remove anal glands, which is most commonly used for animals with anal gland tumors or frequent anal gland infections. This procedure is not typically used for animals with frequent anal gland impaction as there are several serious complications that may occur, such as fecal incontinence.