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Mucus in Dog Stool: The Common Causes

Amy Aitman
June 23, 2017

There are benign, normal reasons for mucus in dog stool but here's when you should alert your vet.

You'd do anything for your dog, even check his stool, especially if you thought something could be wrong. Notice any differences in your dog's bowel movements lately? Although mucus in dog stool is very common, and necessary, sometimes it warrants a trip to the veterinarian.

What Is Mucus in Dog Stool?
Dog stool often has mucus. It's a slime-like substance made by the intestines to keep the lining of the colon lubricated and moist and is perfectly healthy. In fact, small amounts are often dead cells acting as a natural lubricant in the gut, helping prevent constipation. 

"Without it, defecating is much more strained and difficult," says Dr. Krista Magnifico, a veterinarian at Jarrettsville Veterinary Center and the founder of Pawbly. Dr. Kimberly Hammer, a veterinarian at NorthStar VETS and a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, agrees that mucus in stool is normal. "Mucus is often either the dead cells being shed from the lining from the colon or secretion from the colon and is usually not a concern," she says.

When Is It a Problem for Your Dog?
"Part of being a really great and responsible pet parent means you really need to know what is going into and out of your dog," says Dr. Magnifico. And that means knowing not just what you are feeding him, but what he found to ingest all on his own. Think your dog's mucus is problematic?
Here's when you should call the vet:

  • Your Dog has Diarrhea
    Both vets say when mucus is accompanied by diarrhea, it's something that could warrant a trip to the vet. "When your dog has diarrhea that persists longer than 24 hours, and is accompanied by mucus in the stool, you should go see your vet," says Dr. Hammer.
  • Any Part of the Stool is Changing
    "If you've suddenly got really, really soft stool and a lot of mucus, or a lot of mucus and not very much stool, that could indicate that there is a problem," says Dr. Magnifico.
  • You Witness a Change of Color
    "The mucus will only change color when there is something else present in it. So, if there's excessive bile or blood, this will change the color of the mucus and could mean something is wrong," says Dr. Magnifico.
  • You Dog is Only Producing Mucus
    When you see your dog overly straining, and nothing is coming out but mucus, this could mean something is wrong in the GI tract. Both veterinarians agree you need to see a pattern of this occurring before taking your dog to see a vet. "The cell turnover in the gut is so rapid and changes quickly, " says Dr. Magnifico. You should wait it out. Dr. Hammer agrees, "If your dog is only producing mucus in a 24-hour time period, it is time to call the vet."
  • Your Dog isn't Eating or Drinking
    "A lot of times dogs will get better with conservative measures at home," explains Dr. Hammer. "Sometimes it can be a bland diet that helps, but if your pet is not eating or drinking, this can be another warning sign that something is wrong." Dr. Hammer warns that if your pet is not drinking anything, don't wait 24 hours to see improvements, especially if you notice other symptoms of lethargy. Just call your vet.

Talking to Your Dog Sitter
If you're worried about the state of your dog's GI tract and health, talk to your dog sitter or dog walker. Make sure he or she keeps track of everything your dog is ingesting, whether it's the food given to the dog directly or a piece of pizza he found on the sidewalk.

You're not with your dog all day and can't tell if she's been straining to poop and just getting mucus, but your pet sitter probably can. Tell your pet sitter or dog walker your concerns and make sure he or she watches your dog closely during the time with your pet. With these precautions, soon your only poo concern will be scooping it off the ground.

And read Dog Vomiting Bile: A Diet Plan for Getting Your Dog Back to Normal.

Amy Aitman is a freelance writer with a passion for the four-legged creatures in this world, especially her 13-year-old Westie, Buckles.

* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.

User in Bristol, CT
July 19, 2016

Valeria Sanchez - That totally depends on where you live and what your dog is being treated for. My vets charge about $60 for an office exam and extra for tests, treatments, vaccinations and take-home meds. When my dog jumped off the porch roof, I was referred to a truly outstanding emergency and specialty hospital because he needed serious surgery to save his leg. While their office exam rate was around $40, they worked with me on a package deal that cost about $7200, surgery and follow-up care included (an amazing bargain). My guess is that, in general, the vets in and around big cities are a lot pricier than those further out in the country. Keep in mind that an expensive price tag doesn't necessarily mean a great vet, and the care at low cost clinics can be excellent. The best thing you can do, preferably before the need, is some homework. First ask pet owning friends and family who are near you, who they use, why they like them, what they pay on average and what kind of animal the doctor works well with. This may help narrow down the local field for you. If you have exotics, ask other exotic owners. You can ask friends and family to ask their vets who's the best with your kind of exotic animal. A practice with multiple vets can be a blessing. I have cats and 2 dogs. The cats don't really care who treats them, so I choose their doctor based on my preferences. My dogs see 2 different vets. When we recently changed practices (once pricey but exceptional practice that nose dived when the primary vet sold it on retiring), my weimaraner mix saw the first vet to walk through the door and loved him. My Catahoula bulldog is extremely wary of men because of prior abuse. Unfortunately, the first female vet was afraid of him because of his size and his bark. For the second appointment, I asked to see the 'other' lady vet, and she dropped right to the floor with him and performed her exam like it was a massage. Love at first sight all around. So to get an answer to your question you should ask around your area. And when you have it narrowed down to a short list, find out when you can drop by (preferably when they are less busy) and discuss what they offer and what they charge. And if you are lucky enough to live in Colorado, there is always Dr. Jeff Young at Planned Pethood Plus, Inc. Best of Luck

June 23, 2016

How much does it cost to get a dog treated with a veterinarian?

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