Stool Appearance Means a Lot

by the Collected Wisdom of Many Observant People

Best to check what this looks like while picking it up. © Praveen Mutalik

Call it what you will –stools, feces, poop, BM’s and even scatology — this delicate topic of discussion is important. Just knowing what the variations looks and smell like is a great diagnostic tool. Here are some descriptions of what you may see one of these days and what it might mean. Also, see this article for more on this topic.


  • Yellow or greenish stool — indicates rapid transit (small bowel).
  • Black, Tarry stool — indicates bleeding in the upper digestive tract.
  • Bloody stool — red blood or clots indicate bleeding in the colon.
  • Pasty, light-colored stool — indicates lack of bile (liver disease).
  • Large, gray, rancid-smelling stool — indicates inadequate digestion or absorption (malabsorption syndrome).


  • Watery stool — indicates small bowel wall irritation (toxins and severe infections).
  • Foamy stool — suggests a bacterial infection.
  • Greasy stool — often with oil on the air around the anus: indicates malabsorption.
  • Excessive mucus — a glistening or jelly like appearance: indicates colonic origin.
  • Odor (the more watery the stool, the greater the odor)
  • Food like or smelling like sour milk — suggests both rapid transit and malabsorption.
  • Putrid smelling — suggests an intestinal infection.
  • Mushy — suggests food allergy, intestinal parasites, especially tapeworms or even overeating.
  • Bloody-smelling.  Some think of it as metallic and everyone think it smells strong and terrible. Once you smell it, you won’t forget it.  It may look like pure blood or very dark. It suggests internal bleeding or a severe case of hookworms.


  • Several in an hour, each small, with straining — suggests colitis
  • Three or four times a day each large — suggests malabsorption or small bowel disorder.

Condition of Dog

  • Weight loss, malnutrition — suggests small bowel disorder.
  • Normal appetite, minimal weight loss — suggests large bowel disorder.
  • Vomiting – small bowel origin, except for colitis.
  • Excessively hungry and thin — suggests intestinal parasites, especially tapeworms, which are easily seem in the stool. They may even wave at you!


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