Fecal Tests and Intestinal Parasites

Patapsco Valley View

Volume 5

Summer 2012

To Bring Poop or NOT to Bring Poop

That Is The Question tessa.jpg

In today’s mail you were engulfed in bills,

offers for new and improved products, and a cute little postcard that reminds you that Fluffy is due for her yearly exam and vaccinations. You nod as you read the card and then notice, “Please bring a fecal sample with you!” Your first thought, “Eyuuuk! What do I need THAT for?!” and then your second thought, “Do I have to?”

The answer is: “Yes! You do.” If your pet has come in contact with another (possibly contaminated) animal‘s stool, or ingests rabbit, bird, or deer stool, or hunts wildlife (this is normally found in the feline activity chart), then your pet may be infected with intestinal parasites. So, if it is at all possible, please bring a stool sample with you at Fluffy or Kitt’s scheduled appointment.

Checking your pet’s stool once yearly allows us to catch and treat intestinal parasites that you may not even know your pet has contracted. Some animals can go for a while before they exhibit any symptoms, and then you may only see diarrhea which could be caused by a number of things. Bringing a stool sample with you allows the laboratory to test for hookworms (which can be transmitted to humans), roundworms (which many puppies and kittens contract from their mother in utero), and whipworms (nasty little buggers that latch onto the interior wall of the bowel to suck nutrients from your pet and have a tiny little tail that ’whips’, hence the name). The lab also tests for Giardia and Coccidia, two parasites that can cause major digestive issues. Most of these parasites can be transmitted to human members of the family. All intestinal parasites can be treated with medication from your vet.

The one major intestinal parasite that the lab can’t see in the stool is the tapeworm, because the tapeworm does not lay eggs. It divides itself into tiny segments and you may see tiny, little, white/gray, rice sized worms wiggling in your pet’s stool, around the anus, or even in your pet’s bed. If you see this dastardly creature, please call us and we will get medication together to treat and cure the condition. However, if your pet has fleas you will probably be treating for tapeworms regularly. It only takes the ingestion of a single flea to introduce the tapeworm into your pet’s system. Cats and dogs often ingest fleas when grooming or when eating rodents. The best thing to do is to keep your pet free of fleas with a veterinarian approved flea product.

So now that you know WHY we ask for a stool sample, here’s a few words of wisdom: 1)Try to get a fresh stool sample (within 24 hours). 2) You don’t need a lot of stool, (the container we send is about 2inches tall by 3/4inch wide). 3) Putting the sample in an air tight bag is greatly appreciated by technicians and the rest of the staff, (seal tight baggies are great).

Just remember, if you have any questions about your pet’s health, don’t hesitate to ask. THERE ARE NO DUMB QUESTIONS! We’re here to help you keep your pet safe and healthy.