If you’ve noticed a jelly-like substance or mucus in dog poop when your dog goes outside for a bathroom break, it’s likely to have raised a few questions. You might be wondering why it happens, what causes it, and when you should take your dog to the veterinarian.
A small amount of mucus in stools can be normal, but dog poop covered in mucus is a common symptom that veterinarians see regularly. While many causes of mucus are mild, there are a few to look out for—so let’s look at everything you need to know about mucus in dog poop.
Mucus in Dog Poop: What Does it Look Like?
A lot of people find it difficult to recognize mucus in their dog’s poop. So what does mucus in poop look like?
I often describe mucus as “jelly” or “slime”—it’s usually clear and sticky, and covers all or part of your dog’s poop. You may also see chunks of jelly-mucus in your dog’s poop, especially if he has diarrhea.
It’s also possible for mucus in dog stool to be colored. White mucus in dog poop is the most common color, but mucus can also be green. Green mucus in dog poop may be down to food colorings or eating grass, but can also suggest a bacterial infection.
If your dog is pooping mucus that is red, this is usually blood (although again can be due to food coloring). Bloody mucus in dog poop is not an emergency, but it is concerning. It’s usually caused by burst blood vessels in the last part of the gut—the colon—and suggests inflammation or straining, both of which are common in dogs with diarrhea.
What Causes Mucus in Dog Poop?
Mucus is the normal lining of your dog’s intestines. It’s secreted by large bowel cells to help feces move through the gut properly (it’s an intestinal lubricant), so small amounts of mucus in poop are completely normal, and usually go unnoticed.
Poop with mucus in it suggests that your dog is suffering from colitis (large bowel inflammation). Dogs with colitis will also have several other symptoms such as loose stools, straining, and increased urgency and frequency of needing to go for bathroom breaks.
Causes of colitis in dogs (and therefore mucus in your dog’s poop) include:
Sudden Dietary Changes
If you’ve just run out of your dog’s food and had to switch to something different, this can cause temporary colitis. That’s why it’s important to transition to new foods slowly. Similarly, dogs that scavenge while on walks are prone to bouts of diarrhea and colitis from the sudden dietary change or even from toxins in whatever they pick up.
It’s common for dogs to go off their food and be a little lethargic when colitis is caused by diet changes. Luckily, this type of colitis usually resolves after a few days.
When bacterial toxins reach the large bowel they can cause inflammation and excess mucus production. Common bacteria that cause colitis are food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella and E.coli.
Many dogs pick these bacteria up while out and about, but it’s worth remembering that dogs being fed a raw diet are at higher risk of eating these bacteria in their food. Apart from stool covered in mucus, bacterial infections like these can also cause inappetence and vomiting, and may progress to more severe effects if not treated.
Infection with gastrointestinal parasites (commonly called ‘worms’) often causes loose stools or diarrhea with mucus. Whipworm and roundworm are common culprits. Giardia and cryptosporidium are two microscopic parasites that commonly cause dog poop to be covered in mucus. They’re more common in young puppies and can be difficult to get rid of, not responding to the usual deworming medications.
Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)
Like people, dogs can suffer from irritable bowel disease and this can cause symptoms of colitis and mucus in their stool. This is usually down to a food intolerance—a reaction to a specific protein in their diet. You may see other signs, such as weight loss, reluctance to eat, and occasionally vomiting. Itchy skin is also a sign of food allergies so may be seen alongside mucus in your dog’s stool.
One of the most common causes of colitis is stress. Stress increases the speed that the intestinal contents move through the guts. This means the food isn’t processed properly, causing the bacteria in the intestines to have more nutrients than usual. The resulting bacterial activity can cause diarrhea and mucus in poop. You may have seen other signs and know the cause of stress—recent fireworks or a change in routine are common causes—or it may be that your dog has ongoing minor stress that shows only as mucus in their poop.
Leishmania is a blood-borne disease carried by sandflies. Colitis has been found to be caused by leishmania, although this is a rare symptom. More common symptoms include skin problems, eye problems, and nosebleeds, along with weight loss and lethargy.
Granulomatous Colitis of Boxer Dogs
This rare condition causes mucus in dog poop in Boxers alongside weight loss, bloody stool, and other colitis symptoms. In this disease, the intestinal wall becomes inflamed, thickened, and ulcerated in response to E.coli.
Mucus in Dog Poop: When to Seek Help
If your adult dog has a mild case of mucus in his or her poop, you may decide to simply monitor your dog at home. For instance, if your dog’s diet has recently changed and they get mucus in their stool but are otherwise well, it’s likely this will resolve in a couple of days.
However, if the mucus does not resolve or your dog’s diarrhea gets worse, it’s a good idea to see a veterinarian.
Puppies need to see a veterinarian as soon as they become unwell. This is because they can quickly deteriorate and become dehydrated.
Dogs that are showing other symptoms or dogs with colitis lasting more than a couple of days also need to see a veterinarian for investigation and treatment. Symptoms that suggest an urgent vet visit is required include:
- Vomiting (especially if more than once)
- Tarry (black-colored) feces
- Large amounts of blood in feces
- Lethargy, reluctance to exercise
- Weight loss, or thin body condition score
- Inappetence (not eating) lasting more than 24 hours
Don’t forget that colitis that reoccurs is also a problem, even if each episode is mild and short-lasting. Recurrent mucoid poops can be a sign of an ongoing internal problem so should be investigated, even if your dog is normal between episodes.
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How to Treat Mucus in Dog Poop
The treatment your dog will need depends on the cause of mucus in their poop. For some dogs, the mucus will be a one-time issue that resolves itself after a couple of days.
For other dogs, treatments may be more intensive. Parasites will need to be treated with a prescription dewormer, and bacterial infections and Leishmania will need antibiotics. Dogs with recurrent episodes of colitis and mucus in their poop may require a prescription diet from a veterinarian.
Many causes of colitis and mucus can be improved with a high fiber diet or probiotics. Diet changes may also be needed with IBD, although in this case it’s best to attempt to determine the food allergen and remove it from your dog’s diet.
If your dog’s poop does not improve after a few days on a bland diet or if your dog’s symptoms get worse, you should contact your veterinarian.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why does my dog have mucus in his poop?
Mucus in dog poop can be caused by a variety of things ranging from stress and dietary changes to bacterial infections, diseases, and allergies and food intolerances. If your dog is experiencing mucus from stress or something he ate, the mucus should resolve on its own in a few days. However, if you notice dog poop with mucus that lasts for more than a few days, you should see a veterinarian to determine the cause and best course of treatment.
Is mucus in dog poop bad?
Mucus in dog poop is not necessarily something to worry about if your dog is acting normal and it resolves in a few days. However, green mucus could indicate a bacterial infection or bloody mucus could signal inflammation in the colon due to stress colitis or food intolerances. If the mucus lasts more than a few days, your dog’s diarrhea gets worse, or your dog begins to show other symptoms or is acting differently (lethargic, doesn’t want to eat, etc.) you should see a veterinarian.
Can stress cause diarrhea in dogs?
Yes, stress can cause diarrhea in dogs and this diarrhea may contain mucus. This is called stress colitis and can happen if a dog experiences physical (surgery, increased activity, trauma) or mental stress (boarding, veterinary visit, separation anxiety, moving, etc.). Stress causes an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in your dog’s gut and can result in diarrhea and mucus in your dog’s stools.
If your dog has mucus in their poop, it’s likely they’re suffering from colitis, or inflammation of the large bowel. There are many causes of colitis, most of which are mild or self-limiting. Some will need further investigations and treatment, especially if your dog doesn’t recover within a couple of days or shows other signs.
Bottom line—if you see mucus in your dog’s poop, keep a close eye on your dog for other symptoms or changes and call your veterinarian if things don’t improve or you have any concerns.