Reviewed and Updated on May 19, 2020 by Dr. Jennifer Coates
Your dog’s poop can actually tell you a lot about their health. So before you pick it up, always take a quick peek to make sure your dog’s poop looks normal.
If you see mucus in your dog’s stool, find out what could be causing it and when you should see the vet.
Is Mucus in My Dog’s Stool Dangerous?
A little bit of mucus in a dog’s stool is not a reason to panic, and there are some ways you can help at home. Be sure to mention these occurrences at your next vet visit.
Excessive amounts of mucus in your dog’s poop may indicate a medical condition that needs veterinary attention. If you consistently see mucus in your dog’s stool, or you see a lot of mucus, even if it’s just in one instance, then you need to make an appointment with your vet.
It’s best to contact your vet immediately if your dog is very young or very old or has a pre-existing condition. For these dogs, a decline in health can happen very rapidly, so you should communicate any changes you notice to your vet ASAP.
When Can You Treat the Condition at Home?
If your dog has just a little bit of excess mucus in their stool but is otherwise feeling fine (eating well, happy, active, no diarrhea, etc.), you can try treating the condition at home.
Sometimes switching to a highly digestible diet or adding additional fiber to their diet will help.
Boiled white meat chicken (no skin or bones), white rice, and a teaspoon to a tablespoon (depending on the size of the dog) of canned pumpkin is a good, homemade option that you can safely feed your dog for a few days.
A small amount of mucus in the stool—in an otherwise healthy dog—does not require treatment with medications, but a probiotic supplement may help.
Look for probiotic products designed specifically for dogs or ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
When Does Mucus in Your Dog’s Stool Require a Vet Visit?
It’s time for a vet appointment if your dog has abnormal amounts of mucus in their stool over an extended period of time, or if your dog has additional symptoms, such as:
In these cases, there could be an underlying health issue at play. Your veterinarian will take a complete health history and perform a physical exam. They may need to run some combination of the following tests:
Abdominal x-rays and/or ultrasound
Biopsy of the intestinal tract
Underlying Conditions and Treatments
Appropriate treatment will depend on the results of these tests and your dog’s eventual diagnosis. These are some of the more common disorders that cause mucus in dog stool:
Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can all infect the canine gastrointestinal (GI) system.
With GI infections, most dogs will also develop diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or other symptoms in addition to mucus in the stool. Supportive care and medications that address the infection will be necessary.
Whipworms, tapeworms, giardia, and other intestinal parasites can cause mucus in a dog’s stool.
A fecal exam can identify the type of parasite present, and an appropriate dewormer should take care of the problem.
When a dog eats something unusual, it can disrupt their GI tract and cause mucus in their stool. Mild cases resolve with a little bit of time.
More severe cases may require medications to control vomiting and diarrhea, antibiotics, fluid therapy, nutritional support, and sometimes surgery to remove foreign material.
Change in Diet/Adverse Food Reaction
An abrupt change in diet can lead to mucus in a dog’s stool. Returning to the original food and then slowly mixing increasing amounts of the new food into the old will usually resolve the problem.
In some cases, a food allergy/intolerance may be to blame. You may need to switch to a therapeutic diet, like a veterinarian-prescribed hypoallergenic food.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Stress is thought to be a major factor in flare-ups of irritable bowel syndrome.
Treatment involves stress relief, dietary changes, and medications (sulfasalazine, for example) that lessen the severity of a dog’s symptoms.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can cause mucus in the stool, but it is usually accompanied by weight loss, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Treatment with diet changes and sometimes immunosuppressive medications should reduce a dog’s symptoms.
Cancer of the GI tract can cause mucus in the stool.
Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or palliative therapy.
Acute Hemorrhagic Diarrhea Syndrome (AHDS)
When a dog’s stool contains a lot of blood and mucus (often described as looking like raspberry jam), AHDS—also known as hemorrhagic gastroenteritis—may be to blame.
Treatment includes supportive care, anti-nausea drugs, fluid therapy, and antibiotics.
Questions to Ask Your Veterinarian
Ask your veterinarian about any possible side effects of the medications your dog is taking. Find out when they want to see your dog for a progress check and whom you should call if an emergency comes up outside of their normal business hours.
Possible Complications to Watch For
Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s condition, particularly if your dog experiences worsening symptoms like:
Lethargy or depression
Vomiting or diarrhea (especially if it is dark/tarry or contains fresh blood)
Remember, dogs that are very young or very old, or those that have pre-existing health conditions can quickly become very sick. In these cases, it’s better to be safe than sorry and consult with a veterinarian ASAP.
Featured Image: iStock.com/yulkapopkova
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