Many dog owners know that scooting can be a sign of intestinal worms, but dogs scooting after having diarrhea may raise some doubts as to why this behavior is occurring.
At a first glance, dog owners may suspect that the dog is using the carpet just as people use toilet paper, but fortunately, dogs usually don’t think to use the carpet this way.
Instead, in this case, dogs scooting after diarrhea may be doing so because there is some sort of irritation or discomfort going on back there.
In order to understand dogs scooting after having diarrhea,a good place to start is understanding a few basics in dog anatomy.
A Matter of Anal Glands
Not all dog owners know that dogs have anal glands located under their tails. If you would think about your dog’s anus as the big face of a clock, the anal glands would be located at approximately the 4 o’ clock and the 8 o’ clock positions. As their name implies, anal glands are meant to secrete fluids through their ducts, and being exocrine glands, it means that unlike endocrine glands, they secrete their fluids outside of the body rather than internally into the bloodstream as endocrine glands do. These fluids are typically secreted when a dog defecates.
What’s the purpose of this fluid contained in a dog’s anal glands? The fluid has important social purposes. Anal glands are often also known as “scent glands” because they provide information with their scent. This is why dogs are so interested in smelling other dogs’ poop. Poop left behind by other dogs reveals identity information and can be used to delineate borders and territories. While people erect fences, dogs rely on urine and feces to identify property. Also, anal gland secretions may function as an alert system for other dogs. A dog who is very scared at the vet’s office may squirt some smelly anal gland secretions to warn other dogs of some danger.
A Dog Scooting After Diarrhea
Being glands that are meant to secrete fluids, anal glands need to empty on a frequent basis. When anal glands work well, they empty themselves when the dog defecates. Successful emptying of the anal glands requires the passage of solid feces because only solid feces are capable of exerting enough pressure on these glands to grant successful emptying. When a dog has diarrhea or soft stools, especially of the type lasting several days, the anal glands may fail to empty properly.
When a dog’s anal glands fail to empty, the dog feels pressure accumulating and will try to find any “artificial means” to empty them. Dogs scooting after diarrhea are therefore trying to get relief and get those anal glands to finally empty. In an outdoor environment, dogs may scoot over dirt and grass, while indoors, many dogs prefer the rough texture of the carpet. If your dog is scooting after having diarrhea, you therefore know that your dog is having issues with his glands and that they are likely in need of emptying.
Helping the Scooting Dog
If your dog is scooting after having diarrhea, you may be wondering what you can do to help him. The sight of a dog dragging his butt across the carpet may be funny at first but it needs to be taken seriously as the dog is experiencing discomfort. Fortunately, for mild cases, there are a few things that can be done at home.
Most importantly, steps should be taken to stop dog diarrhea. A bland diet with rice and skin-less and bone-less boiled chicken fed for a few days may help firm up the stool. Many dog owners also find that the addition of plain pumpkin (not the pie type with the spices added) may help dogs with anal gland issues. With firmer stools, the anal glands should empty and return to a normal state. However, if your dog has persistent diarrhea or soft stools, it’s important to see the vet and have it addressed. Your vet may have to manually express the glands to provide relief, and possibly, develop a plan to reduce the occurrence of diarrhea. Left untreated, anal gland problems may progress to infections that can even cause rupture of the dog’s anal glands.
“Normally, anal glands produce a watery to waxy discharge that is brown to greyish in color. If the material looks like watery pus, this can be a sign of infection of the glands, a common reason for the dog’s inability to express them on their own. If you notice this type of discharge, your pet should see the vet as soon as possible… Leaving this untreated can cause rupture of the gland through the tissue of the rectum.”~ Dr. B