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The Importance of Fecal Exams for Dogs and Cats

Annual fecal exams for cats and dogs, done at your Springfield vet's office, are the best way to ensure that your pet and your family are safe from intestinal parasites. Yearly fecal exams give your vet an opportunity to check for intestinal parasites that could otherwise be missed. 

What is a fecal exam?

Fecals are microscopic examinations of your pet's feces carried out at your veterinarian's office. Yearly routine fecal exams assist your veterinarian in identifying and treating any infections that may be threatening your pet's health.

What do fecal exams detect?

During fecal exams, your veterinarian will look for signs of intestinal parasites like roundworms and hookworms. These parasites not only cause discomfort and irritation in pets, but they can also lead to more serious conditions.

It's also worth noting that a variety of intestinal parasites can be transmitted to humans!

Intestinal parasites are invisible because they live within your pet's gastrointestinal tract. Fecals are the most effective way for your veterinarian to detect intestinal parasites that may be hiding in your pet.

How do I prepare for my pet's fecal exam?

Collect a fresh stool sample and bring it to your vet's office on the same day. For the most accurate results, try to get the sample to the clinic within 4 to 6 hours of collection.

If the stool sample dries out or dehydrates, many of the potential parasites will be killed, which in turn could mask their presence.

How often does my pet need a fecal exam?

Our Springfield vets recommend that cats and dogs have fecal exams done at least once a year. Puppies and animals with gastrointestinal issues may need more frequent fecal exams. Speak to your vet to find out how often you should bring in your pet’s stool sample for a fecal.

How are fecal exams performed?

Fecal samples are centrifuged with a special fluid before being examined under a microscope on a coverslip. A wet mount method can also be used to examine samples, which may allow for better detection of motile organisms. Each parasite has a distinct appearance that an experienced technician or veterinarian can detect.

This fecal examination usually takes 30 to 40 minutes and is normally done at the hospital.

In some cases, our vets may decide to send the sample to a third-party laboratory. Other tests, such as PCR, fluorescent antibody, and antigen tests, may be required to detect organisms, such as viruses, that cannot be seen under a light microscope. If this is the case, test results could take anywhere from 1 to 7 days to arrive.

What happens if I don't do fecal exams for my pet?

Having an annual fecal exam is extremely important for pet health, but it's also important for human health.

Some of the intestinal parasites found in dogs and cats in a fecal test are zoonotic. This means that they can pass them on to humans. Contact with contaminated feces is usually the main mode of transmission. These can include:

  • Picking up feces
  • Gardening or playing in the yard
  • Your dog licks your hand and then you touch your mouth or eat
  • Your dog licks your face

Young children are more vulnerable to parasites from dogs and cats because they love to get dirty and pick up anything on the ground (including poop) in an instant, and they despise washing their hands. Furthermore, they may find it amusing when the dog licks them on the face. If you have children, it is especially important to keep an eye on your dog or cat and have them tested regularly.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your pet due for a fecal exam? Contact our Greenbrier-Springfield Animal Hospital vets today to get it done.

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