By Jennifer Coates, DVM
Dog stool normally contains some mucus, but excessive amount of mucus in the stool may indicate a medical condition and will need medical attention.
If your dog has mucus in the stool, this is what you can expect to happen next:
Medication: A small amount of mucus in the stool of a dog who is otherwise feeling fine (eating well, happy, active, no diarrhea, etc.) does not require treatment with medications, but a probiotic supplement may help. More severe cases will require medical therapy that varies with the underlying cause.
Diet: Sometimes switching to a highly digestible diet or adding additional fiber to the diet will help dogs with mucus in the stool. 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 can be safely fed for a few days.
What to Expect at the Vet’s Office
When abnormal amounts of mucus appear in a dog’s stool over an extended period of time, your veterinarian will need to look for an underlying cause. He or she will collect a complete health history, perform a physical exam, and then may want to run some combination of the following tests:
- Fecal examinations
- Blood chemistry panel
- Complete blood cell count
- A urinalysis
- Abdominal x-rays
- Biopsy of the intestinal tract
What to Expect at Home
Appropriate treatment will depend on the results of these tests and your dog’s eventual diagnosis. Some of the more common disorders that cause mucus in the stool of dogs are:
Intestinal Infections – Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can all infect the canine gastrointestinal (GI) system. Most dogs will also develop diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or other symptoms in addition to mucus in the school with GI infections. Supportive care and medications that address the infection will be necessary.
Parasites – Whipworms, tapeworms, and other intestinal parasites can cause mucus in the stool. A fecal exam can identify the type of parasite present, and an appropriate dewormer should take care of the problem.
Dietary Indiscretion – When a dog eats something unusual it can disrupt the GI tract and cause mucus in the stool. Mild cases resolve over time. More severe cases that are accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea may require supportive care, antibiotics, fluid therapy, and sometimes surgery to remove foreign material.
Change in Diet/Adverse Food Reaction – An abrupt change in diet can lead to mucus in the stool of dogs. Returning to the original food and then slowly mixing increasing amounts of the new food into the old will usually resolve the problem. If the dog’s symptoms persist, a food allergy/intolerance may be to blame. In these cases, switching to a veterinarian-prescribed hypoallergenic diet may be necessary.
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 (e.g., sulfasalazine) that lessen the severity of a dog’s symptoms.
Cancer – Cancer of the GI tract can cause mucus in the stool. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or palliative therapy.
Inflammatory Disorders – Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can cause mucus in the stool that is usually accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea. Treatment with immunosuppressive medications and diet changes will often reduce a dog’s symptoms.
Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) – When a dog’s stool contains a lot of blood and mucus (often described as being raspberry jam-like), HGE may be to blame. Treatment includes supportive care, anti-nausea drugs, fluid therapy, and antibiotics.
Questions to Ask Your Vet
Ask your veterinarian what the possible side effects are of the medications your dog is taking. Find out when he or she next wants to see your dog for a progress check and whom you should call if an emergency arises outside of your veterinarian’s 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:
- Becomes lethargic or depressed
- Has a poor appetite
- Develops vomiting or diarrhea (especially if it is dark/tarry or contains fresh blood)
- Is in pain
- Is very young, very old, or has a preexisting health condition