Most people have brown poop. But what does it mean if your stool (poop) is green, black, or an other color? Note that this information is mostly for humans, but some of these are true for pets and other mammals too.
This is the normal color for most people, and animals. Our poop is brown because bilirubin, which is formed as hemoglobin is broken down by the liver, entering the intestines within bile. As the stool forms, it turns light, to dark, brown.
Green stool can be the result of stool traveling too fast through the intestines, and as such it was not given enough time to turn brown. This can be the result of stress.
Green stools may also be a simple indicator of what a person ate, some green color dyes, as those used in pistachio pudding, can cause green stool. Eating a lot of spinach can also cause green poop. Iron supplements can also cause stools to be green in cool.
Black stool should be considered serious. It often indicates intestinal bleeding, which could be caused by ulcers or tumors. Black stools can be a sign of bleeding in the esophagus, or ulcers. Black stool can also be the result of some medications, such as iron pills or diarrhea medication that uses bismuth. Black, smelly, stools in dogs should be considered a symptom of parvovirus.
Deep Red Stool
Dark red stools are a sign of intestinal bleeding. This may be the result of tumors, ulcers, Crohn's disease, or colitis. Eating beets can also cause stools to be a deep red, or even purple color.
Bright Red Stools
Red food coloring in some candies, drinks, or deserts can cause red stools. If blood can be seen it could be a sign of bleeding of the rectum.
Stool that is pale yellow, and often foul smelling, can be a sign of poor fat absorption, usually due to problems with the pancreas; such as pancreatic cancer, celiac disease, or cystic fibrosis.
White or Light Colored Stools
White, or pale colored, stools usually indicate a problem with the bile ducts, as not enough bile is reaching the digestive tract. Liver disease can also be a contributing factor to causing white stools. White stools can also be the result of some anti-diarrhea medication.
If you notice your stool is an unusual color, before you panic, first think back to what you have eaten for the past 3 days. Have you had anything that you do not normally eat, any foods that have lots of food coloring? Have you started a new medication? Are you having any other symptoms of health problems? If you are unsure of the cause of your discolored stools, and particularly if it has been going on for more than a day, be sure to talk to your doctor – he may request a stool sample.