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Mucus in dog poop: explained

Small dog on a coach

Here's what to do if you spotted mucus in your dog's poop.

© Unsplash

Checking your dog’s poop isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time! However, as a pet parent, it’s essential to know what’s normal and healthy, poop can tell you a lot about your pet’s health. Mucous in faeces can be a sign of illness.

By Dr Holly Graham BVMedSci BVMBVS MRCVS

Updated on the 01/03/2021, 16:29

Have a dog? Part of your daily routine is scooping up poop. That means you know it pretty well and should notice any changes. In fact, you should really make a point of monitoring it on a weekly, or even daily basis. A dog’s poop is a smelly screenshot of their health.

Before we delve further into the stinky subject of mucus in dog poop, it might help you to understand what’s actually normal when it comes to your pup’s toilet habits.

Normal dog poop: 4 things to watch out for

Watching your dog do their business might sound a little weird, but it’s important in knowing what’s normal and picking up on any problems. Your dog’s poop will generally look the same from day to day. Stools are usually the same colour, size and texture. And most dog’s have a toilet routine! Dogs tend to go at similar times each day, and usually make the same number of stools over a period.

There’s no such thing as the perfect poop, but it’s important to know what your dog is leaving behind, and when this isn’t normal. If you notice something is different and it’s not a one-off, it’s time to head to the vet.

Here are 4 things to watch out for when it comes to dog poop:

  • Colour: poop comes in many different colours, but these should all be shades of brown. Black, red, orange, yellow or pale and pasty stools are a cause for concern. Your dog shouldn’t produce all the colours of the rainbow!
  • Smell: poop doesn’t smell like roses, but if it’s suddenly smelling bad enough to make you heave, or a little funkier than normal it could be a sign that something isn’t right.
  • Sound: flatulence isn’t abnormal, and dogs aren’t immune to letting out a fart! An occasional stomach gurgle or rumble probably isn’t something to panic about, but excessive gassiness or gurgling may be a warning sign.
  • Texture: dog poop should be firm in consistency. There are charts you can find to help you score the firmness, as gross as it may be. Diarrhoea, soft ice cream style stools or hard little rocks might happen sometimes. Diarrhoea isn’t uncommon after a new treat or a naughty meal, but if this is becoming a regular problem - get your pup checked out.

Causes of mucus in dog poop

“The presence of mucus is actually very normal. It's common to see a little bit of a slimy, jelly-like substance in your dog's stool. Glands in the intestinal tract naturally produce mucus to help keep the colon lubricated and moist to help the stools pass along.” explains Adrienne Janet Farricelli, author of Brain Training for Dogs, to Pet Helpful.

“However, excessive mucus accompanied by blood in the stool, diarrhoea, vomiting and/or other symptoms is a cause for concern.”

Mucous isn’t an abnormal finding in the lower bowels of a dog. A small amount of slime or jelly in a stool isn’t reason to rush straight down to the vet. Mucous is a normal product that helps lubricate the colon and assist in the passage of poop. Excessive mucous with diarrhoea, blood or other signs of illness should be taken seriously thought. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common causes of mucus in dog poop.

Intestinal infections

Gastroenteritis, or GI infections can cause mucous in dog poop. Abnormal bacteria or viruses can cause inflammation to the GI tract and result in a combination of diarrhoea and/or mucous. These kinds of problems are usually associated with other symptoms like vomiting, reduced appetite and lethargy. If your dog isn’t well always get him checked over. There are lots of things that can cause an upset stomach - some aren’t anything to worry about, but lots can be very serious. Diseases like parvovirus can be fatal, even with fast and aggressive treatment.

Eating something bad

Lots of dogs are scavengers, and find things to pick up and eat on walks or even around the house. Like with humans, eating something we know we shouldn’t can cause an upset stomach and GI irritation. Most cases of dietary indiscretion resolve on their own or with simple treatment, but it’s important to try and work out exactly what your dog ate in case it could be something harmful.

Poisoning

If your dog has eaten something like chocolate, caffeine or human medications it could affect the gastrointestinal tract. These symptoms could be mild, or severe and are often accompanied by effects in other body systems. If you’re worried your dog has eaten something toxic contact your vet immediately.

Parasites

Worms should be in the ground, not in your dog’s body! Yuck! Parasites in dogs are both disgusting and can be dangerous. There are many types of internal parasites including roundworms, tapeworms and giardia which can lead to mucous in poop. Whilst these parasites can be easy to treat with medication from your vet, it’s important to check this is the cause of your dog’s bum problems!

Diet changes

Diet changes are a common cause of diarrhoea in dogs. A change of brand or even flavour can result in a softer poop, or a GI upset. A dog’s digestive system is surprisingly sensitive and will sometimes react to new and unfamiliar foods. Try to introduce this new food slowly over 2 weeks, mix in the new food in small quantities and check it suits your pet! Sudden food swaps can be bad for everyone!

Dogs can have food allergies like people, and if you’re noticing that certain foods are making your dog’s poops looser than normal, it may be worth a consultation with your vet.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Dogs can suffer with IBD. This condition can be complicated and multi-factorial, and may require special diets or medication to control. There might be episodes where poos are perfect, and where poos aren’t so great. This condition requires regular check ups with your veterinarian.

Cancer

We know cancer isn’t a word any owner wants to hear. GI cancers can affect consistency and colour of stools. Dogs may have diarrhoea, black stools or even be constipated if the tumour is obstructing the intestines. Most diarrhoea probably isn’t related to something scary, but regular vet checks are a good idea.

Mucus in dog poop: what to do

Whilst mucus in dog poop can be a symptom of a serious disease, it’s important not to panic and work out what the cause is. Have a look at your dog’s diet - has anything changed? Could your dog have picked up anything? Is your dog otherwise well? These are all questions your vet might want to ask, so it’s important to consider what could have caused the problem.

Head to the vet. It’s best to get it sorted sooner rather than later, and check that there isn’t anything serious to worry about. Treatment is most effective when done early, and may be as simple as a bland diet and probiotics. Vet checks are particularly important if your pet isn’t bright, happy and eating as normal.

A single episode of loose or mucousy poo isn’t usually something to worry about. If your dog is happy, eating and the poop is back to normal quickly - keep an eye on them. Watch their stools, keep regular checks and if the problem is becoming regular, it’s time to see the vet.

Understanding what's normal when it comes to dog poop and knowing the causes of mucus in dog poop means you're a dedicated, not disgusting, pet parent.