Canine butt scooting might not be laughing matter

I wrote this column back in March. Recently, however, my good friend’s dog, experienced impacted anal glands so I dug out this article for her and thought I’d share it again for you in case you missed it or needed the information again.

I recently had to message my vet with a canine butt, or “tail end,” question.

I didn’t think I could go very long writing this column without discussing some poop-related pet story – not with three dogs and six cats.

My text: “Hi! I haven’t asked you a gross question in quite a long time! Hope (our 40 pound, 9-year-old, mixed breed rescue girl) occasionally scoots her butt across the floor after she comes in from doing her business. I assumed she was wiping her butt. Do you think there is a chance she needs her anal sacs expressed?”

Nice note to send to your vet, huh?

She’s a great sport however, and replied, “Chances are Hope may just have an itch since she scoots so infrequently or she may indeed need her sacs expressed.”

She said she would examine Hope at her upcoming appointment.

Lesson 101: Anal sacs, often called anal glands, technically are not truly glandular in structure, according to These two small repositories of foul smelling material are small pouches lined with cells whose job it is to continually produce an oily semi-liquid substance that is stored within the sac.

All dogs have small sacs on either side of their anus that have unknown functions but probably play a role in marking territory. Another theory, according to, states that the anal sac material lubricates hard stool, which makes passage easier.

Humans do not have anal sacs (FYI). It’s bad enough that some humans get hemorrhoids (dilated, irritated blood vessels). Luckily, dogs do not get hemorrhoids. However, I bet the irritation is similar for them, although I’m not a canine.

I grew up with a toy poodle, Snowball, who regularly needed her anal sacs expressed.

The groomer would normally do this. Sometimes, it took a trip to the vet.

Usually, a dog’s anal sacs are easy to empty, or “express.” I could never get the hang of this task.

Ordinarily, these sacs empty when a dog has a bowel movement. If they fail to empty they can become impacted and inflamed and even infected.

Often dogs scoot to try and empty these sacs or soothe the discomfort. Left untreated they can pose a bigger problem.

As a child I found this act quite humorous to watch; as an adult, not so much. Usually, Hope picks the most inopportune time and place to scoot – like on newly cleaned floors in front of company.

Beyond the innocent itch or impacted sac, there are other reasons that could cause a dog to scoot across the floor including messy, matted fur, tapeworms and allergies, all of which can pose a serious issue.

Now that I suspect Hope may be experiencing discomfort rather than just scratching an itch, we’ll get the vet to examine her at her appointment next week.