Yes, it's a "stinky" subject matter, but a very important one for the health of your pet. If you've ever wondered why your veterinarian's office asks you to bring along a fecal sample for your appointment, here's why:
Performing a fecal test will look for an infection of intestinal parasites and single celled organisms that may be living inside our pets such as:
- and Whipworms.
- Tapeworms on the other hand rarely show up in a fecal test, they are more easily diagnosed with the naked eye.
These parasites can be contracted from the environment (contaminated soil, water, air), fleas, wild animals, or from infected mothers. Some of these infections are zoonotic (contagious to people) so getting your pet's poop checked regularly and treating if anything is found will prevent them from passing on these unwanted guests to you and the rest of your family.
The sample brought does not need to be very large; 1 inch in diameter or roughly the size of a quarter is sufficient. It should be relatively fresh (too hard and it's not usable), ideally collected within 24 hours, and as clean as possible from debris like kitty litter, dirt or grass. There is no need to refrigerate nor freeze the feces. These samples are tested by way of centrifuge or fecal float. Both ways can find eggs of the mature parasites which can be seen under a microscope. If the parasites are too young to produce eggs, they will not show up, and a repeat test may be necessary.
For puppies and kittens at Eagle Animal Hospital we request bringing in a stool sample for each pediatric visit. They are more commonly infected and re-infected with parasites then adults because they can be born already infected with parasites, and their immune systems are not yet fully developed.
With healthy adult cats and dogs we recommend routine fecal testing once a year along with annual wellness exams and vaccinations. Even if your pet is on preventatives testing is important to ensure that they are, and continue to be parasite free.
If your pet is having diarrhea, weight loss, or is not feeling well, a fecal test may also help in determining the cause.
So, even though it's unpleasant, you can see why it's so essential to the well being of your pet to routinely have their poop tested.
Eagle Animal Hospital serves Chester Springs, Downingtown, Exton, Glenmoore and surrounding areas.
Written by Kaelin Mast, receptionist