What does fecal testing tell us about your pet’s health?

We all hate the smell and the mess of fecal matter. Full of important health information, fecal testing can alert your vet of intestinal parasitic diseases. These diseases are a major cause in morbidity in pets and a cause for concern in humans. It’s no wonder the recommended fecal testing is twice a year for adult dogs. 


A ‘whiff’ of the stats

Did you know diseases your pet’s feces carry can spread from pets to people? According to Kansas State, 34% of dogs in the United States have some kind of intestinal parasite, and the Centers for Disease Control says that 14% of people in the U.S. have been infected with the roundworm Toxocara. As a result of Toxocara infections, approximately 700 people lose vision every year. A single scoop of poop can go a long way in protecting your family and neighbors.


What do fecal tests detect?

Decals allow veterinarians to determine if your pet has intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidia, and giardia. Intestinal parasites live in the gastrointestinal tract hidden from view, so unlike external parasites (fleas and ticks), the only way to detect and identify the presence of an intestinal parasite is by doing a fecal.


How is a fecal performed?

Worm eggs, larvae, and protozoan cysts are impossible or difficult to see with the naked eye, so a fecal exam is done with a microscope. There are three ways to go about preparing stool for examination:


A smear is easiest to do and involves smearing a small sample of stool across a microscope glass slide and examining it under the microscope.


A floatation/float is the most common method used in veterinary hospitals and involves mixing the stool sample in a special solution that allows the eggs and protozoan cysts to float to the surface.


A centrifuge is used to spin down a stool sample suspended in a special solution prior to performing the floatation. The parasites are then identified microscopically based on the size, shape, and characteristics of their eggs, larvae, or cysts.


How often does your pet need a fecal?

You should test your pets for parasites at least yearly, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC). Puppies, animals with exposure-risk, and animals with gastrointestinal disturbances ought to be checked more frequently.

Always consult your veterinarian for the best approach and frequency regarding your pet's health and their exposure to intestinal parasites.

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