It is not uncommon for your pets to have their feces examined from time to time. Your vet might ask you to bring in a sample for preventative care or to try and get to the route of a health concern such as finding out where intestinal parasites live or checking the gastrointestinal tract.
An annual fecal exam for both your dog or your cat is the best way to avoid parasites or other health conditions that might be hidden from view on a regular blood test. These types of ailments can be hard to discover with a simple routine checkup.
What Are Pet Fecal Tests?
A fecal test is actually what it sounds like. Veterinarians take a sample of your cat or dog’s poop and test it. They are testing it for certain infections, parasites, and other potentially worrying signs.
This is important to do every once in a while as certain parasites that dogs and cats contract can be passed to humans. Fecal tests should be done more often if the animal lives with very young children, old adults, or anyone with a compromised immune system.
There are a couple of different types of fecal tests.
Smear: This is when the vet smears a sample on a slide in order to inspect it under a microscope. They do this to see if they can spot an indication of parasites. Usually, if they can see something it is a sign that the animal could have a severe intestinal infection.
Flotation: This method involves mixing the stool with different chemical elements. This creates a special solution allowing parasite eggs and cysts to float. This is a common method used among vets.
Centrifugation: This is done before a floatation test typically as they will mix the stool sample with a sugar and salt solution. So when the floatation method is performed the parasites can then identify microscopically.
What Do Pet Fecal Tests Detect?
There are many different things that an animal fecal test can find. Usually, they are testing for different intestinal parasites such as roundworms or hookworms. These can make pets very uncomfortable as well as lead to serious health conditions. It’s important to get your animals tested often as some of these intestinal parasites can be passed on to people.
Many pet owners decide to get their animals tested every year for routine preventative care. It is way easier to treat an illness or parasite when caught early.
How Can I Prepare And Collect My Pets Stool?
Usually, the vet will ask you to collect the sample yourself and bring it to them. Scoop it up from your usual walk, or collect it right after the cat leaves the litter box (it’s okay if there is some litter on the sample).
You can bring the sample to them in a plastic, or doggy poop bag. Some people like double bagging or putting the sample in a container to avoid any messes, but it is usually up to you and how you feel the most comfortable transporting it.
The vet does not need very much. The fresher the stool sample the better for getting accurate results. So try and bring the sample to your vet the same day it was collected.
What Happens If They Detect A Parasite?
If the vet determines that your pet does indeed have a parasite, don’t freak out. Many parasites are common and can be easily treated. Many are treated with medication that your vet can prescribe. Your vet will probably also suggest giving a dewormer to any other animals you have in the home or property. Parasites can be contagious and it is better safe than sorry.
A Wagmo Pet Wellness plan can cover the costs of two vet visits a year and the fecal exam. A Wagmo Pet Insurance plan can cover the cost of any prescribed medication, x-rays, emergencies costs, and additional laboratory tests. Mix and match our plans to find the best coverage for you.
How Often Should They Get Their Feces Tested?
It is recommended to make fecal tests a part of your wellness routine. This is because a fecal test isn’t foolproof and can sometimes miss things. If you are getting them done regularly then the chance of missing something is lowered.
The Animal Parasite Council suggests getting 4 tests during your pet’s first year, then 2 times a year after that. Of course, if a vet recommends more then you should follow their recommendations.
If your dog or cat is outside more often, then you might consider doing fecal tests more frequently than an indoor pet.