Feces, commonly known as poop, is the stinky brown stuff we all abhor (unless we are a dog in which case it can be a delicacy). While feces is nasty, and has the magical ability to teleport itself under my feet, it can tell us a great deal about your pet’s intestinal health. We can look at its form and color. We can also examine it at a microscopic level. Why is it so important to get a fecal sample examined every year? It is an important part of a wellness examination. We can look for evidence of intestinal bleeding, bacterial overgrowth, bacterial infections, and most importantly any parasites your pet may have picked up during the year. Some parasites like tapeworms we can see visually in the feces, but most of them are microscopic and we’d never know that they were there if it weren’t for microscopic examination.
“But my pet doesn’t have diarrhea.”
Dogs and cats can have parasites without having diarrhea. Should you be concerned? Absolutely! Several parasites can cause disease in people and pets. Hookworm and Roundworm larvae can infect your dog from other animals poop, contaminated water, or even walking on the grass. These larvae if ingested, or transmitted thru bare feet, can cause severe damage to humans, especially children, including blindness. Some parasites are also very contagious to other pets. Giardia, a waterborne protozoan is a prime example. Your pet can pick it up from a walk outside and give it to housemates and it can be tough to get rid of. Luckily most dogs and cats have a strain which is different from the one that infects people. All of these parasites are easily treatable and preventable with medication and education.
“But since my pet is strictly indoors, does he really need to have a sample taken?”
Yes. We look at feces for more than parasites. The feces can clue us in on a variety of disorders. Also, people can bring in parasites from the outside on their clothing, shoes, and even from themselves.
“How does my pet get a fecal sample tested?”
To be easy on your pet, bring a relatively fresh sample (from that day-it needs to be moist) in with you and give it to the exam room technician or the receptionist. It’s okay if there is litter on it. You only need a piece the size of a marble. If the feces are abnormal, bring in the abnormal portions. Use a plastic bag or a container you don’t care too much about to bring the sample in. Feces are yucky, but it’s very important to have them examined annually.
“Why is fecal testing required for boarding”?
Because of guests (canine and feline) are not confined to cages for their entire stay, we want to make sure that there is no accidental sharing as they play in communal areas (which are regularly disinfected). We don’t want your pet going home with anything except happy memories. We need to keep our boarding facilities and dog park parasite-free.