Q: My dog has been scooting his rear across the floor again. I keep taking a stool sample to the vets to check for worms. How come they can’t find anything?
In your case, your dogs butt scooting is probably not associated with parasitism. It is quite possibly an anal gland issue.
In dogs and cats, the anal glands are two small sacs that are located to the right and left of the rectum. These are used as scent glands and are considered their ‘signature’ scents to other animals. The gland has a narrow duct that the material drains out of. When an animal passes a stool, it puts pressure on these sacs and they are routinely expressed of their often foul smelling material. Most anal gland problems result when the duct is obstructed. This is called anal gland impaction.
For simple problems, anal gland impactions can be resolved by your vet or groomer. Gentle pressure can be placed on the gland and the material squeezed out. For some dogs, this needs to be repeated regularly, (monthly to bi-monthly). In others, a rare manual expression may be needed. Most dogs do not need their anal glands expressed. Dogs with mild anal gland distention will often express it themselves by scooting their rear across the floor (usually on your new carpet).
Why does anal gland impaction occur? Sometimes the material produced is much thicker than normal and does not drain out correctly. Location of the anal gland may also be a problem. In some breeds, and many obese animals, the glands position does not allow it to be expressed by passing stool. Also, infection or inflammation can be the culprit. Many dogs with allergies will have inflammation/itching around the rectal area that may occlude the anal duct and impair its normal emptying.
Treatments can be varied depending on the problem. Simple treatments for seasonal or food allergy may help many scooters. Increasing fiber content in the diet has also helped in some cases. In others, routine manual expression may be needed. In severe cases where the gland ruptures repeatedly, surgical removal may be needed. Please seek the help of your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause of the problem so your situation can be better addressed.