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Scooting in dogs and cats – not just anal glands!

itchy butt

There are five primary reasons why dogs and cats chew or scratch at their hind ends.

Worms

Without dwelling on this much, suffice it to say that worms can cause hind end itchies. So if your dog or cat is scratching her butt, bring a poop sample with you to your vet appointment.

Full anal glands

anal glands
Every carpet’s favorite!

Believe it or not, I wrote a whole post on everything you never wanted to know about anal glands. You should read it.

When you take Fido or Fluffy to the vet for their itchy butt appointment, bag o’ poop in hand, expect a gloved finger to check your pet’s anal glands.

Allergies

There are two primary kinds of allergies that can cause an itchy butt: food allergies, and inhalant allergies.

Food allergies are actually uncommon in my patients, and if they do happen, it’s usually to chicken. We had a veterinary dermatologist write a whole post on food allergies once, check it out!

If your pet is not allergic to the protein in her food, but has an itchy hind end and licks her feet, she might have inhalant seasonal allergies, or “doggy hay fever”. Treating the allergies, then, is the primary treatment for the hot spots your pet gets secondary to scratching and licking her hind end.

Treat the underlying allergy, and all your pet’s skin problems will go away.

Arthritis

This one usually affects cats more than dogs, since dogs with hip arthritis usually show more clear-cut signs of pain like slowness to rise, reluctance to exercise, or an obvious limp.

Cats with arthritis, on the other hand, just… sleep more, and don’t jump on top of the refrigerator anymore like they used to when they were kittens. Which may not become obvious until your cat starts licking all the fur off over her tail or between her legs, which is the closest her tongue can reach to her sore hips.

If the first four causes of hind end itchies have been ruled out, ask your veterinarian to xray your cat’s hips and check for arthritis, then discuss pain control like buprenorphine, glucosamine, Adequan injections, NSAIDs or gabapentin.

Fleas

flea dirt
If you part your pet’s fur and see black pepper, your pet has fleas.

Fleas are visible insects, about the size of a small ant. After they suck your pet’s blood, they poop out little black specks that look like black pepper. This blood-rich poop is what feeds the larvae of the developing fleas.

Why do fleas like to live over your dog’s butt and between their back legs? I don’t know, they just do.

BUT WAIT, it gets WORSE!

If your pet is allergic to fleas, they will itch even more profoundly after a flea bite than a normal pet. That is why in multiple-pet households, even if all the animals have fleas, only one may be itchy.


IN SUMMARY…

There are at least five different reasons your dog or cat might be chewing rubbing or scratching at her butt. Take her to the vet, bag o’ poop in tow, and let us figure it out!

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