If you’ve noticed jelly 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 vet.
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, 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.
Another normal cause of mucus in dog poop is prolonged exercise. In one study, 16 percent of sled racing dogs had mucoid poop during racing.
Mucoid poop suggests that an animal 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.
It goes without saying that 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 signs of being unwell 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.
How to Treat Mucus in Dog Poop
The treatment your dog will need will depend 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.
Many causes of colitis 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.
Digestive Aids for Dogs
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For dogs with recurrent mucus with no identifiable cause, long-term use of digestive aids may be helpful in improving gut health.
Consider the following products to improve your dog’s overall stool quality and digestive health. Make sure to check with your vet before giving your dog any new supplement.
This high-fiber supplement for dogs can help to firm up your dog’s stool and keep your dog regular, limiting the chance of mucus and diarrhea. These yummy, chicken-flavored chews contain probiotics, Omega 3, and digestive enzymes to support healthy digestion in dogs. Plus, they are made in the USA and don’t contain any artificial flavors or colorings.
This probiotic supplement from Purina is crafted in partnership with veterinarians, scientists, and pet nutritionists to provide your dog’s gut with what it needs. It can reduce gas and help cut down on instances of diarrhea in dogs. The powder is simple to use and can be sprinkled over food during mealtime.
This digestive supplement can be used with your current food to ramp up overall gut health in dogs. Just replace 10 percent of your pet’s food with this recipe that is packed with pumpkin, ginger, vitamins, and nutrients. It’s that easy. The formula was developed by a veterinarian and it’s made in the USA.
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.