Dear Dr. Forsythe: My husband gets really irritated at our cocker spaniel “Viola” when she starts scooting on her butt. He often starts dragging her and raises his voice to get her to stop. I admit that its a little embarrassing that she does it so often, but I just don’t think he handles it right. What do you suggest he do when she starts rubbing her butt? She does it very frequent, like after leaving the groomer or when we are just walking down the sidewalk.
Dear MM: The first thing to be aware of is why Viola is rubbing her bottom the way she does. The most likely cause is full or impacted anal glands that itch, and these need to be emptied. Every breed of dog (and cat) have this little pair of glands that are nestled on either side of the anus but Cocker Spaniels are among the breeds whose glands tend to fill up frequently with smelly, pungent oily material.
Because of this, I recommend that you get to your veterinarian at least monthly and have the glands drained professionally. This is done by the veterinarian or vet technician using a lubricated, gloved hand and gently inserting the forefinger into the dogs anus, then gently using the thumb externally and the inserted forefinger to “milk” the foul material out of the gland and into a small piece of gauze for disposal.
Depending on how inflamed the glands get and how “impacted” the oily material inside them becomes, the emptying process can be somewhat uncomfortable. It is performed by veterinarians because doctors (and their licensed staff) are permitted to actually insert a gloved digit into the pet to press out all the infected and/or inflamed material that is making the gland painful. While groomers and animal handlers can sometimes partially empty the glands using a pinching technique externally, there is a risk of rupturing the small glands when trying this, so I recommend that you have your doctor check Viola out and make sure that they are emptied properly.
In addition, there are some other less likely but still important causes for pets rubbing their bottoms on the ground. A partial list could include allergies, parasites, growths, foreign bodies (such as a fox tail in the fur), and infections. I hope this answer didn’t provide “TMI” for you on a rather smelly, noxious subject, but your question is one that is asked to me very frequently, so I felt you deserved the “deep and probing” answer. Let me know how things ‘come out’ for Viola!!
Dear Dr. Forsythe: I wanted to give you an update after I wrote you last week about the struggle I was having with my girlfriend about her wanting us to adopt a kitten. You were firmly on my side and agreed it would be a good idea to wait until we both wanted one. I appreciate your response.
I also wanted to let you know our new little kitten is named Jingles. We got her on Labor Day and she is a little black and white girl with blue eyes. Your advice was very much appreciated, I think it came down to keeping my girlfriend happy so I can be happy in the other areas of my life.
Dear JC: I totally understand what you are talking about! And although I talk a good talk (and write a good tidbit) the bottom line is, we both know, “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody in the house happy! Let me know if you need any help with the kitty! You seem like one young man who is wise beyond your years, and a very good catch. I hope your girlfriend knows and appreciates that you compromised and care. Good luck!