Preventive care is crucial for protecting your pet against serious diseases. One type of preventive care measure is routine fecal exams to test for parasites. Our Lacey vets talk about why fecal tests are important for pets, what you should do to prepare, and when they are needed.
What is a fecal exam?
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 fecal. Fecal exams are used to diagnose many different types of parasitic infections that can cause harm to your pets. To perform this test, your vet may request that you bring a fresh stool sample with you to your cat or dog's routine visit.
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.
There are many different types of parasites that fecal exams may diagnose. These intestinal parasites can not only make your pet uncomfortable but also may lead to more serious health issues. There is also the risk of transmission of parasites from pets to people.
What do you need to do if your dog or cat has 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.
What are fecal exams needed for dogs and cats?
Our Lacey 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.
What are the signs of parasites in pets?
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
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.