Does your cat or dog drag their bottom along the floor, scooting from place to place? It’s a pretty common thing to see in pets, particularly in dogs, and it’s one of the most common reasons people bring their pets into our veterinary practice.

But you may be surprised to discover that the reason for scooting is often not what you think it is.

Myth: scooting in pets is caused by worm infestations

Pet owners often assume that scooting is the result of worm infestations, but in fact, this is only rarely the case, and only with a specific kind of worm. In most instances, scooting is caused by impacted (overly full) anal glands, which cause itching and discomfort in your pet’s rear area.

Scooting can also be observed in cats, for the same reasons, but it’s less common than in dogs.

Anal glands: what you need to know

The anal glands are two small glands that are found just inside the anus in dogs and cats. They produce a semi-liquid substance that is extremely odorous, and smells a bit like rotten fish. Once you’ve smelled it, you’ll never forget this ‘aroma’!

This smell, like a fingerprint, is unique to every animal, and in nature, animals use it to mark their territory. When they defaecate, they secrete a small amount of this fluid along with their poop, and it spreads their signature scent in this way.

You may get a whiff of this smell when your pet gets a fright and some of this fluid is released as a result. Sometimes, if there is a significant build-up in the glands, you’ll even catch a whiff when your furbaby is simply sitting next to you on the couch! Gross as it may be, it’s normal.

How do I know if there’s a problem with my pet’s anal glands?

How do I know if there’s a problem with my pet’s anal glands?

    • Scooting: dragging their bum along the floor
    • Unusually bad and/or abnormal smells
    • Constantly licking their rear end
    • Redness under the tail and/or around the anus
    • Swelling around the anus
    • Pain around the anus

What happens when there’s a problem?

When the anal glands are impacted (too full), the liquid may be thicker than normal, or the ducts might be too thin, resulting in a build-up of material inside the gland. The most common side effect in your pet will be pain, discomfort and/or scooting.

When impacted anal glands become infected, abscesses can develop. This will cause more pain to your pet, and you’ll observe swelling that may even lead to burst, bleeding glands.

What to expect when you take your pet to the vet

Impacted anal glands will simply be expressed (released of their fluid) during a rectal examination. If this is a recurrent problem with your pet, you can learn how to do this procedure at home.

If your pet develops an abscess, it will need draining and cleaning under sedation. If your pet develops recurrent abscesses, your vet may recommend surgical removal of the anal glands. This is a good option for pets that experience regular flare-ups. It’s a relatively big op and your furbaby will need to stay in hospital for a few days. However, it’s a routine procedure that yields good results, and when done by an experienced surgeon, your baby will be in great hands (or paws!).

Have other questions about your pet’s health and wellness? Check out more posts about cat and dog health and wellness, or pop into our online shop to browse our great range. Why not treat your furkid to something special?

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