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The importance of Fecal Exams for Dogs and Cats

Annual pet fecal exams, done at your Tigard vet's office, are the best way to ensure that your pet and your family are safe from intestinal parasites. Yearly fecal exams give your vet an opportunity to check for intestinal parasites that could otherwise be missed. 

What is a fecal exam?

Fecals are microscopic examinations of your pet's feces, performed at your veterinarian's office. Yearly routine fecal exams help your vet to identify and treat any infections that could be compromising your pet's health.

What do fecal exams detect?

When doing fecal exams, your vet will look for signs of intestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms. These parasites not only make pets uncomfortable and irritable, but they could lead to more serious conditions.

It's also important to note that a number of intestinal parasites can be transmitted to people!

Intestinal parasites are hidden from view because they live inside your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. Fecals are the best way for your vet to detect intestinal parasites that may be hiding in your pet.

How do I prepare for my pet's fecal exam?

Collect a fresh stool sample and bring it to your veterinarian's office on the same day. For the most accurate results try to get the sample to our Tigard veterinary office within 4 to 6 hours of collection.

If the stool sample dries out or dehydrates many of the potential parasites will be killed, which in turn could mask their presence.

How often does my pet need a fecal exam?

Our Tigard vets recommend that cats and dogs have fecal exams done at least once a year. Puppies and animals with gastrointestinal issues may need more frequent fecal exams. Speak to your vet to find out how often you should bring in your pet’s stool sample for a fecal.

How are fecal exams performed?

Fecal samples are centrifuged with a special fluid before being examined under a microscope on a coverslip. A wet mount method can also be used to examine samples, which may allow for better detection of motile organisms. Each parasite has a distinct appearance that an experienced technician or veterinarian can detect.

This fecal examination usually takes 30 to 40 minutes and is normally done at our hospital.

In some cases, our veterinarians may decide to send the sample to a third-party laboratory. Other tests, such as PCR, fluorescent antibody, and antigen tests, may be required to detect organisms, such as viruses, that cannot be seen under a light microscope. If this is the case, test results could take anywhere from 1 to 7 days to arrive.

What happens if I don't do fecal exams for my pet?

Having an annual fecal exam is extremely important for pet health, but it's also important for human health.

Some of the intestinal parasites found in dogs on a fecal test are zoonotic. This means that animals can pass them on to humans. Contact with contaminated feces is usually the main mode of transmission. These can include:

  • Picking up feces
  • Gardening or playing in the yard
  • Your dog licks your hand and then you touch your mouth or eat
  • Your dog licks your face

Young children are more vulnerable to parasites from dogs because they love to get dirty and pick up anything on the ground (including poop) in an instant, and they despise washing their hands. Furthermore, they may find it amusing when the dog licks them in the face. If you have children, it is especially important to keep an eye on your dog for intestinal parasites.

Is your pet due for a fecal exam? Contact our Cascade Veterinary Referral Center vets today to get it done.

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Cascade Veterinary Referral Center is accepting new patients! Get in touch with us today for information on how to book a specialty appointment for your pet. 

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Contact (503) 684-1800