If your dog's stool appears slimy, you may be looking for reasons for mucus in dog's stool. Normally, a dog's stool should not contain much visible amounts of mucus. If you find presence of mucus, it's worthy of investigating with the help of your vet, especially if there is lots of mucus in the dog's stool or if the dog has fresh blood and mucus in the stool along with other symptoms such as persistent diarrhea. Following is some information on mucus in dog's stool, what's its purpose and what conditions may cause it, from veterinarian Dr. Ivana.
Purpose of Mucus in Dog's Stool
By Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic DVM
Mucus is normal slimy-like substance produced by mucous membranes so it protects lining tissues in respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital, visual, and auditory systems. (mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.)
Mucus contains salts, enzymes (bacteria-killing types), immunoglobulins (antibodies), and glycoproteins and mucins, so its sole purpose is protection; to keep the surfaces protected from drying out, to trap dust and smoke and other microparticles to fight off infections.
Mucus in the stool is produced by mucous membranes in the large intestine to keep the colon lubricated and moist as well as protected.
Your dog's stool is a good indicator that can give you answers to many questions such as what the dog was eating, whether there are parasites, whether the dog is suffering from a digestive disorder. A small amount of mucus in stool is normal, but any change in color or quantity can indicate many different things.
"Mucous in the dog's stool is a sign of inflammation of the intestinal tract... If you can imagine the intestinal tract red and inflamed then the body puts a protective mucous lining on it."~Dr. Scott Nimmo, veterinarian
Reasons for Mucus in Dog's Stool
Colitis. Colitis is an irritation and inflammation of the large intestine in dogs responsible for 50 percent of diarrhea in dogs. Real causes of colitis can be different, but what is common for all is mass production of mucus in order to fight the inflammation.
Stress and anxiety. During stress whole organism is working hard, especially GI system, and during stress colon can get inflamed. In a response to all this, mucous membranes fight by producing more mucus, therefore, there is more in the stool (as well as in nose and throat).
Food allergies. During an allergic response, immunoglobulin (IgG and IgE) (which are contained in mucus as well) are activated so more mucus means more protection, and also, histamine is released, and histamine causes direct mucous membranes inflammation, therefore, again, more mucus.
Food intolerances differ from food allergies in a way that the immune system's response is not involved so there is no histamine released, but there are other dysfunctions in digestion and food resorption with the release of IgM and IgA in the mucosal secretion causing symptoms of an upset tummy.
Recent diet changes. Every change, especially a fast one can cause an inbalance in the digestive system.With symptoms such as diarrhea and/or bloated stomach overproduction of mucus is a normal reaction to fast food change. When you are changing your dog's food, you should take it slow, mixing it with the formula he is used to for a few days.
Dietary indiscretions. Sometimes your dog will get into your trash bin, or eat something he should not eat, or eat an overwhelming amount of food that will upset his stomach and intestines. In these situations, more mucus than usual is an expected thing.
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Presence of parasites or protozoans. Parasites such as worms (Whipworms, tapeworms, and hookworms) or protozoans like Giardia cause physical damage to the mucous membranes and accompanying inflammation.
Bacteria/Viruses. Pathogenic microorganisms of any kind cause inflammation while the organism fights against it. Overproduction of mucus is one of first response. Parvoviruses are known to attack the lining of gastrointestinal tract producing bloody diarrhea with loads of mucus. Bacterial infections including salmonella and clostridium are also causes of overproducing mucus.
Imbalance of Colon bacteria (the good kind). Even with an imbalance of saprophytic bacteria that are normal residents of the digestive tract, there is a change in the normal state of the organism that induces increased production of mucus.
Foreign objects. Foreign objects stuck in the dog's bowels can and will at first induce production of more mucus. Depending on its position and the time, quantity of mucus will change.
Tumors. Tumors and/or polyps are as well forms of foreign objects and the dog's body recognizes them as attackers.
Intoxication. Intoxication will produce more mucus in dog's stool because poison or toxic material will make mechanical damage to the lining at first, but with all the other symptoms following this one may pass unnoticed.
What Happens at the Vet's Office
If you are concerned because there is an excessive/not normal quantity of mucus in stool a visit to a veterinarian is the smart thing to do.
Your veterinary will take a detailed clinical examination of your dog, and, if necessary, further steps will be (depending on symptoms): fecal examinations, blood chemistry panel, complete blood cell count, abdominal x-rays, endoscopy, biopsy of the intestinal tract.
After the results are done, possible solutions are:
Without major or any symptoms ( the dog is acting normal, eating normal, playing, sleeping, etc.) a cause of probiotic supplements may help.
More severe cases will require medical therapy which depends on the real cause of the symptom
Sometimes the right and first solution is just a proper diet for your dog. Fast changes in diet or inappropriate food choice require a diet so that the situation returns to normal. Proper nutrition with fibers can ease many problems or even a restrictive diet that will last some time.
In the case of a tumor or a foreign object, surgery might be a necessary course of action.
About the Author
DVM Ivana Vukasinovic is a veterinarian in Belgrade, capital city of Serbia.
She received her B.S from University of Belgrade in 2012, and her master’s degree from Veterinary University, Belgrade.
Before eventually becoming director of Vetanima Doo, company that sells animal food, medicine and supplements, she have worked in many different fields of sales.
After finishing college, she started working as sales person in biggest Serbian bookshop chain, and being passionate about books, she had reached the position of publisher.
After leaving this field, she started working as a veterinary commercialist, and then landing a job as veterinarian at a veterinary pharmacy, in the same company in which she is now acting as director.
When she is not working, she is either glued to some fantasy book or cooking for friends. She currently resides in Belgrade with her cat Mile.