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Help, My Dog Has an Itchy Bottom

Dog Has an Itchy Bottom

If your dog has an itchy bottom, you may be wondering what may be causing it so that you can get to the "bottom of it" and address it properly. An itchy bottom in dogs can be caused by a variety of problems, but it's always best to have your vet investigate because treatments vary based on the underlying cause. If your dog has an itchy bottom you also want to find a treatment soon because excessive licking, biting or scooting can cause local damage which may aggravate things, ultimately making matter worse.

dog has an itchy bottom

Scooting is a sign a dog has an itchy bottom. Narith5/Flickr Creative Commons License

Signs a Dog Has an Itchy Bottom 

Deprived from the manual dexterity us humans have, and with their bottoms at their far end, dogs with an itchy bottom cannot scratch as they would other more accessible body parts like their ears, face or chest area. Instead, they will have to resort to using their tongues and sometimes even their teeth to get relief from an itchy bottom.

Some dogs may also get creative, bringing getting relief to their itchy bottom to another level. In this case, found the right surface, they will use it to their advantage by dragging their bottoms across it. The technical term for this behavior is "scooting" and it simply means "sliding from a sitting position."

As funny as a dog scooting may seem, it's important to consider this behavior from a medical perspective. Dogs don't scoot their bottoms just for laughs, instead, this is often a sign of some underlying problem. So therefore, one must interpret the scooting as a plead for help, especially when it's happening frequently.

A Problem With Sacs 

Abscess of dog's scent gland

Abscess of dog's scent gland

Your dog has two sacs (glands) located at each side of her/his bottom. The sacs fill up with material which is often secreted when your dog has a bowel movement. However, at times, if your dog has has frequent poops that are particularly soft or diarrhea, these anal glands fail to empty as they should.

As the material accumulates in these sacs, dogs start feeling discomfort. By licking, chewing and scooting, dogs are trying to apply pressure so to empty these glands. If you ever sense a fishy odor from your dog, most likely your dog has managed to empty his glands in some way.

If the glands are full and your dog is feeling discomfort, these may need to be emptied by the vet. It's important to have this done because should the dog's glands get too full, they may end up getting impacted which may lead to the formation of an abscess and even a rupture.

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In the meanwhile, if the area appears inflamed, it helps to let the dog wear an Elizabethan collar so that he/she is prevented from exacerbating things and continue the itch-lick-itch vicious cycle

Tapeworm segments on dog's stool all rights reserved

Tapeworm segments on dog's stool all rights reserved

Presence of Worms 

In some cases, if your dog has an itchy bottom, the underlying cause is often attributed to worms, but don't be so certain about it. According to veterinarian Dr. John Bloxham, yes, tapeworms can cause in dogs an itchy rear, but he has found that they are present in about 2 percent of dogs who are scooting. In many cases, when a dog has an itchy bottom the underlying cause is due to something else going on.

In the chance though your dog truly has tapeworms, you may find some evidence by putting on your investigative hat. Check your dog's rear for the presence of small rice-like segments (which are the tapeworm's egg sacs) stuck to the hairs. You may also find these rice-like segments on top of furniture where your dog lies on, or on your dog's bed, or perhaps on his stool after he poops, as seen on the picture on the left.

Dogs can get tapeworms from ingesting an infected flea or from eating wild life such as dead mice or rabbits. Most over the counter deworming medications do not get rid of tapeworms; a specific dewormer containing praziquantel is needed. Such dewormer may require a prescription or may be exclusively found over the counter in some places.

A Matter of Allergies 

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If your dog has an itchy bottom, there are chances he or she may be suffering from allergies. Allergies can make dogs itchy just about anywhere, their ears, flanks, paws, eyes, etc. so it's no surprise if their bottoms turns itchy too.

Food allergies are the most common allergy that would cause scooting in dogs, explains veterinarian Dr. Christian K. Common ingredients dogs are commonly allergic to include chicken, beef, dairy, and egg.

Surprisingly, according to the Tuft's University Clinical Nutrition Team, grains are an uncommon source of allergies as most pets are allergic to animal proteins.

Dogs can develop food allergies at any time of their lives, even if they have been on the same food for years. Treatment obviously involves no longer giving the food containing the ingredient the dog is allergic to.

The dog may therefore have to be put on a prescription diet or an over the counter diet containing either novel proteins the dog was never exposed to before, or a hydrolyzed diet composed of proteins that have been broken down into smaller components. Generally, results show up after the dog has been on such diets for about 4 to 6 weeks as long as the dog is fed exclusively that diet (no treats or table scraps!).

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Other types of allergies dogs may develop include allergies to flea saliva, pollen, dust mites and molds. As in food allergies, treatment requires avoiding the trigger and possible use of antihistamines or drugs that suppress the immune system.

"Most owners will think of worms and most vets will think of anal gland impaction or abscessation but allergic skin disease is the most common cause of anusitis in our dogs. Both allergies to environmentals (atopy) such as pollens, molds, dust, and dust mites; and food intolerance/allergy can cause anusitis, subsequent licking, scooting and the redness you're seeing "~Dr. Michael Salkin

dog zinc oxide

Relief for a Dog's Itchy Bottom

As seen, the causes for a dog's itchy bottom can be several but some causes may be more common than others. Your vet is your best source for finding the underlying problem and addressing it accordingly.

If your vet suspects tapeworms, he or she will therefore prescribe your dog a dewormer containing praziquantel. Allergies may require antihistamines (diphenhydramine, cetirizine,hydroxyzine,) or corticosteroids or dietary changes if a food allergy is suspected. Avoidance of the allergen is a must. Dogs with an itchy bottom from anal gland problems may benefit from the addition of fiber to their diets.

Veterinarian Dr. Michael Salkin suggests for dogs suffering from anusitis, the topical application of an over the counter hydrocortisone cream a few times daily after the areas has been gently cleaned. For severe anusitis, a corticosteroid such as prednisone may be needed.

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  • Dr. Jack’s Dog Facts: A Guide To Common Canine Ailments, By John Bloxham, D.V.M
  • Tuft's University, Clinical Nutrition Team, What every pet owner should know about food allergies

Photo Credits:

  • Narith5 Craotie--she's itching her butt. This is BooZoo's and Milo's daughter. Narith5 Flickr Creative Commons License

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