Why Does My Dog Spin In Circles On His Bottom

It’s quite amusing to see your dog spinning around on his bottom, but the reality is that he’s not doing it for your entertainment or his own. When a dog drags his bottom in circles on the floor, it’s a clear indication of a problem, which can range from mild to severe.

Instead of scolding your poor pup for this unusual behavior or getting frustrated with the smelly trail of dirt on your carpet, it’s essential to understand what might be causing this odd spinning behavior. Let’s delve into the various factors you should keep in mind.

What is Scooting?

When a dog rubs his backside against the floor, it’s known as scooting. This behavior is almost always a sign of irritation or discomfort. Some common causes of scooting include anal sac problems, worms, flea infestation, rectal prolapse, and more. Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues.

Anal Sac Problems

The most common reason for a dog to drag and rub his anus on the floor is anal sac problems. These sacs are located on either side of the anus and release fatty, smelly substances that dogs use for communication. While defecating, the sacs naturally empty a few drops of fluid. However, when the dog is unable to do this, the sacs become impacted, leading to irritation. Common symptoms of anal sac problems include scooting, foul odor, excessive licking, swelling or bleeding, and random leaks. If your dog shows signs of anal sac problems, it’s important to seek veterinary assistance.

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Express the Dog’s Anal Glands

To provide some relief to your dog, you can try expressing his anal glands at home if you’re familiar with the process and your dog trusts you. However, if your dog’s behind is already irritated, it’s best to take him to a vet. Expressing the anal glands can cost around $100 and the vet might also prescribe antibiotics if an infection is present. Additionally, warm compresses can be used to reduce irritation.

Improve Your Dog’s Diet

A dog’s anal glands naturally express themselves through well-formed stools. Firm stools apply pressure on the sacs, allowing them to release fluid. If your dog has loose stools, the anal sacs won’t empty properly, leading to inflammation and irritation. To prevent such problems, it’s crucial to increase your dog’s dietary fiber. This can help ensure normal stool consistency and promote the natural expression of anal glands.

Fecal Contamination

Sometimes, dogs resort to scooting when there’s fecal contamination in the anal area, usually after a bout of diarrhea. Fecal matter can get trapped in the hairs on the dog’s bottom, causing discomfort. Giving your dog a bath and thoroughly cleaning the affected area can provide relief. If the area appears red, swollen, or shows signs of pus, it could indicate an infection. In such cases, you can apply an antiseptic ointment, but if there’s no improvement within 24 hours, it’s best to consult a vet.


If your dog is spinning in circles and exhibiting signs of discomfort, it could be due to tapeworms. Dogs can acquire tapeworms by swallowing fleas infested with tapeworm eggs. These worms attach themselves to the small intestine and shed individual segments, resembling rice grains, with the stool. It’s important to identify these segments, as they might be visible around your dog’s anus. Bathing your dog and focusing on the anal area can provide some relief. Additionally, deworming medication and flea-control solutions are recommended to prevent further infestation.

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Rectal Prolapse

Rectal prolapse is a condition where a portion of the rectum protrudes from the anal opening, often caused by digestive problems like diarrhea or constipation. This uncomfortable situation requires immediate veterinary attention. Treatment may involve stitches or surgery, along with a soft diet to avoid further straining.

Why Does My Dog Spin in Circles Before Pooping?

When your dog spins in circles before pooping, it’s completely normal behavior. This ritual serves multiple purposes. By sniffing and walking in circles, your dog is ensuring that the area is safe from predators or other potential dangers. Squatting leaves them vulnerable, so they take precautions to mark their territory and make their feces noticeable to others. Similarly, when a dog spins and stomps on their blanket before lying down, it’s their way of ensuring their sleeping area is secure, much like how you check windows and doors before going to bed.

Why Is My Senior Dog Walking in Circles?

If your senior dog develops a habit of walking in circles, it could indicate a decline in brain function, known as canine cognitive dysfunction. Other signs of this age-related ailment include disorientation, sleep disturbances, incontinence, and making unusual sounds. While there’s no cure for this condition, the vet might prescribe medication to slow down the deterioration of your dog’s mental health. Monitor your dog’s behavior and make notes to provide accurate information to your vet.

Walking in Circles and Vestibular Problems

Walking in circles can also be associated with vestibular problems in dogs. The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, helps maintain balance. Canine vestibular disease can affect dogs of all ages, but it’s more common in seniors. Causes include inner ear infections, certain medications, trauma, injury, or tumors. Additional signs of vestibular disease include loss of balance, disorientation, head tilt, and irregular eye movements. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it’s important to consult a vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

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If you notice your dog scooting, the first step is to visually examine his anal region for swelling or irritation. In most cases, anal sac problems are the cause, requiring gland expression and, potentially, antibiotics. However, if your dog walks in circles without scooting, it may be due to behavioral issues, anxiety, or vestibular problems. If you’re unsure of the cause or concerned about your dog’s well-being, it’s best to consult a vet for guidance and appropriate treatment.

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ยน Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

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