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Mucus in Dog Poop: Signs, Causes & Treatment (Vet Answer)

Written by: Dr. Joe Mallat DVM (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

Adult Irish Red Setter dog marking territory pooping

Mucus in Dog Poop: Signs, Causes & Treatment (Vet Answer)

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Dr. Joe Mallat Photo

WRITTEN BY

Dr. Joe Mallat

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Have you ever picked up your dog’s poop and noticed that it is lined with slimy, thick material? The chances are that this slimy material is mucus. Many dog owners will experience this at some point in time. Perhaps it is a one-off, or perhaps it occurs fairly frequently. You might be left wondering why it happens and if you should be doing anything to fix it.

Small amounts of mucus in stool may be normal, as the digestive system uses mucus to lubricate the bowels and aid the passage of stool. However, large amounts of mucus, especially if combined with bloody or unformed faces, may be a sign of underlying gut issues.

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What Is Mucus in Dog’s Stool?

Mucus is a gelatinous material that lines several organs in the body. While we commonly think of mucus in the nasal or respiratory tract, sometimes referred to as “snot,” mucus is also found in the bowels. Here, the role of mucus is to protect the lining of the bowels, as well as to lubricate them and aid the passage of faces.

A small amount of mucus in stool can be completely normal. Large amounts of mucus can be found in stool if there are inflammatory conditions of the bowels, particularly the colon (also referred to as the large intestine).

Wet Mucos Dog Poop
Image Credit: AppleDK, Shutterstock

What Are the Signs of Mucus in a Dog’s Stool?

The most obvious sign of mucus in stool is just that—mucus in stool! This appears as a layer of thick, slimy material that is either clear or cloudy. It can line the surface of the stool or it can be dispersed throughout. Other signs that are commonly seen alongside slimy stool include:

  • Soft or unformed feces
  • Blood in stool
  • Straining to defecate
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

The 6 Causes of Mucus in a Dog’s Stool

Mucus in stool is not specific for a single disease. It can be seen with a number of diseases, though most of these diseases relate to the colon. Common causes include:

1. Dietary Causes

Dogs are notorious for eating any food items they can get their paws on. In the vet world, this is often referred to as dietary indiscretion. Dietary indiscretion can result in inflammatory changes in the colon, which lead to mucus in stool. There are three main ways this can happen:

  • You recently changed the food you offer your dog
  • You fed your dog a treat or some table scraps
  • Your dog scavenged through the bin or found something on the ground
Cute Beagle puppy eating
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

2. Colitis

Colitis is the technical term for inflammation of the colon. This will result in mucus in stool, though you’ll likely notice that the feces are also bloody and soft in nature. Colitis can be caused by dietary indiscretion, although it can also be caused by bacterial or viral infection. Salmonella, E. coli, and Clostridium are common bacteria that can cause colitis. These can be picked up from spoiled food, soil, or contact with the feces of another dog.


3. Parasites

Parasites, such as roundworms and whipworms, can cause your dog to have mucus in their stool. Protozoal infections such as Giardia are also possible. These bugs are all picked up from the environment. You may or may not actually see the worms in your dog’s stool. Several deworming medications are available over the counter.

dog roundworm parasite
Image Credit: MRAORAOR, Shutterstock

4. Stress

Stress colitis is surprisingly common. Vets are unsure exactly why stress leads to colitis, but whatever the cause, we know the result. Inflammation of the colon leads to reduced water absorption and the reduced ability to hold feces. This leads to stools that are soft, mucus-like, and sometimes bloody.


5. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can occur in dogs, just as it can in people. You may have heard this condition referred to as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. IBD (or IBS) is a chronic condition in which the digestive tract is inflamed and angry. An allergic-type process then occurs in the bowels, and tolerance of food is poor. This leads to chronic diarrhea, sometimes with mucus present.

beagle dog sick sad on bed
Image Credit: Iryna Imago, Shutterstock

6. Other Causes

Less commonly, disease elsewhere in the body results in mucus in stool. Essentially, any disease that causes an animal to become systemically unwell can result in colitis. Examples include auto-immune disease, hormonal disease, and even cancer.

What Is the Treatment for Dogs With Mucus in Their Stool?

Treatment for mucus in stool depends on the underlying cause. In mild cases where the dog appears otherwise well and continues to eat, it can be managed with a bland diet for a few days. Vets will often prescribe anti-nausea medications, probiotics, and electrolytes. In severe cases, in which dogs become dehydrated or painful, it may require admission to the hospital for fluids via a drip and more intensive care.

Parasites and worms can be treated with several “all-wormers” that are available over the counter, online, or from vet clinics.

Inflammatory bowel disease often requires prescription diets and immune-suppressive medication.

boston terrier dog and vet
Image Credit: Nestor Rizhniak, Shutterstock

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Frequently Asked Questions

When Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

This depends on your dog and the severity of the signs. Generally speaking, if you’ve just noticed some mucus in your dog’s stool and he or she appears otherwise completely fine, it may be reasonable to feed a bland diet for a few days and monitor them closely. Some red flags that should prompt you to arrange a vet visit include:

What Is the Prognosis for Dogs With Mucus in Their Stool?

Similar to above, the prognosis for dogs with mucus in their stool depends somewhat on the underlying cause. Thankfully, the majority of cases will self-resolve in a few days, sometimes with the aid of a bland diet and supportive medications. If the problem is ongoing or your dog is showing signs of being unwell, admission to a vet hospital may be warranted.

Young happy veterinary nurse smiling while playing with a dog
Image Credit: David Herraez Calzada, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

There are a number of causes of mucus in a dog’s stool. The presence of mucus can be completely normal, but it can also be a warning sign for underlying disease. Ensure your dog is up to date with their preventative medications, including vaccinations and wormers. If possible, try to minimize their access to table scraps and spoiled food. As always, if you have any concerns about your dog, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.


Featured Image Credit: Alex Zotov, Shutterstock

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