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Worms, fleas can cause irritation

By Victoria Advocate
July 21, 2010 at 2:21 a.m.


My dog drags his behind across the grass every once and awhile. Does this mean my dog has worms?

Dogs can drag their behinds for multiple reasons. Most old timers will tell you that worms are the only reason your dog will do this. Worms that are exiting the anus can cause irritation, which can cause your dog to scratch his behind on the floor. The only problem with this theory is, that worms usually do not crawl out of the intestinal tract while the dog is up and active. They are more likely to move when the dog is sleeping. A total infestation might cause them to become more active during the daytime hours.

Usually with an infestation or intestinal parasites the dog shows other signs before you would notice it dragging it's behind on the ground. Signs of intestinal parasites are weight loss even with a overzealous appetite, vomiting, worms in stool, poor hair coat and eventually anemia and poor appetite. If you have your dog on a heartworm preventative that you give every month - and living in south Texas, you should - this will also protect your pet from intestinal parasites.

The most common reason for a dog to drag his or her behind on the ground is anal glands. Dogs have two glands located at the four and eight o'clock position just inside of their rectum. These glands where originally designed to lube the stool during bowel movements and provide an individualized scent for each dog. An animal that is well known for its anal gland function is the skunk. Unlike skunks, dogs do not have the ability to express their anal glands whenever they feel like it.

Not all dogs have problems with their anal glands. Some can go their whole life without ever needing assistance. Others might need a veterinarian, technician or groomer to help them once in awhile. If they do not regularly express on their own, they can become infected, impacted and or abscess under pressure.

Signs that your dog might have problems with their anal glands include dragging the rear, suddenly jumping up like something has bit them in the behind or pushing their hind ends up against walls or other hard surfaces.

Another reason your pet might be acting this way is fleas. Sometimes all it takes is one flea bite to irritate your pet enough to start with the itching, scratching and dragging. Usually with fleas, your pet will also chew at the top of the tail head (where the tail and behind meet) and or start losing hair in that area. Using a monthly flea preventative consecutively for at least three months will really help alleviate any flea problem you might be having.

If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs or symptoms, your veterinary staff can easily let you know if it is truly a problem with anal glands, worms or fleas in just a few minutes.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at drjohnbeck@hotmail.com.

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