My dog has been dragging her back end across the rug and has been licking this area. Does this mean she has worms?
Answer: Your dog could have worms, but there are several common causes of itchiness in this area. Take a closer look at the area around her anus to see if the rectum or the surrounding skin looks irritated or inflamed. Often pets (including cats) are having problems with the anal glands. These are two glandular sacs that are located near the rectum. No one really knows what their purpose is for the animal, but they likely were needed so that the animal could mark his territory.
If the glands become over distended or infected, they become irritated and itchy. Your dog may be dragging herself over the rug to relieve the itchiness. If she has worms, she is likely to have some other symptoms such as loose stools or decreased appetite. Another cause for itchiness in this area could be irritated skin due to airborne or food allergies.
It's a good idea to visit your veterinarian if this behavior continues or if you see the skin irritation. Your vet can determine if there are other skin changes or if the glands are over distended and need to be emptied. If your vet finds the glands are infected, an antibiotic can be prescribed to treat the infection. If an allergy is suspected, oral (by mouth) medications, topical (skin) medications, or shampoos may be needed. Your pet will be much more comfortable once the underlying problem is treated.
Karen Geissert, D.V.M., owner of Acton Animal Hospital, has practiced veterinary medicine for over 27 years. She is a member of the Massachusetts Veterinary Medicine Association and American Veterinary Medical Association. To contact her with more questions, email email@example.com.