Parasites can cause a number of symptoms that can leave your pet feeling uncomfortable and have the potential to be life-threatening. Luckily, fecal exams can help to detect these pests. Our Thornton vets talk about what happens during a fecal exam and how you can prepare your dog or cat.
What is a fecal exam for dogs and cats?
During your dog or cat's routine visit, your vet may perform a microscopic examination of your pet's feces. This test is known as a fecal exam or fecals. These fecal exams help your vet to identify parasitic infections that may be affecting your pet's health. Your veterinarian may ask you to bring a sample of your cat or dog's feces if they are trying to diagnose an illness in them or for a routine wellness examination.
Fecal exams for dogs can be very beneficial as dogs tend to spend a lot of time outdoors and these tests can help the vet detect infections that your dog may have picked up. Cat fecal exams are important for a similar reason, though indoor cats in particular are more likely to contract parasites from eating something they're not supposed to.
What will a fecal exam show the vet?
There are a variety of parasites that these fecals can help to diagnose such as hookworms. Intestinal parasites make pets irritable and uncomfortable and may lead to more serious health issues. There is also the risk of transmission of parasites from pets to people.
Intestinal parasites live in your pet's gastrointestinal tract, where they are hidden from view. Bringing your cat or dog in for an annual fecal exam allows your vet to diagnose and treat infections before they become more serious.
While you should get annual fecal exams for your pets regardless, there are some symptoms of parasitic infection in cats and dogs you can look out for at the same time:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Food avoidance
- Excessive hunger
- Blood in stool
How do I prepare my dog or cat for a fecal exam?
If your vet requests that you bring a stool sample to the clinic for the visit, you should take the sample the same day, as close to the appointment time as possible. If the stool sample dries out or dehydrates it will kill off many of the potential parasites, which could mask their presence in the sample. That's why, getting your pet's stool sample to us within four to six hours of collecting it will give the most accurate results.
How often should my cat it dog have a fecal exam?
Our Thornton veterinarians recommend that all dogs and cats be tested annually for parasites. Puppies and animals with gastrointestinal issues may require more frequent fecal exams. Your vet will be able to tell you how often your dog or cat should have a fecal exam done.
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.