why does my pet need an annual fecal test?
Have you ever wondered why we recommend yearly fecal testing and what exactly is tested for? It’s not because we enjoy pet poop. We recommend “fecals” because they are an important part of your pet’s annual exam. Fecals allow us to check your pet for intestinal parasites which are a major cause of infection in pets and also a concern for people. It is also possible for some of these zoonotic intestinal parasites such as giardia, roundworms, and hookworms to be transmitted to humans. According to Kansas State, 34% of dogs in the United States have some kind of intestinal parasite and some studies show that number may be even higher in cats, especially if they go outdoors. Thus, fecal tests are an important tool to ensure that your pet and your household are not infected and exposed to intestinal parasites, respectively.
what do fecal tests detect?
Fecal tests enable us to determine if your pet has intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidia and giardia. Since intestinal parasites live in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, they are usually hidden from view. Unlike external parasites like fleas and ticks, most intestinal parasites are never seen. Therefore, the only way to detect the presence of intestinal parasites and identify them is by doing a fecal.
how is a fecal test performed?
Since worm eggs, larvae and protozoan cysts are difficult or impossible to see with the naked eye, a fecal exam is done with a microscope. There are three different ways to prepare a stool sample for examination. At Shane Vet, we send all fecal samples to our reference lab who, in turn, perfoms the fecal test using a combination of two method:
- Centrifugation— This is a form of flotation that involves using a centrifuge to spin down a stool sample suspended in a special solution prior to performing the floatation. The parasites are then identified microscopically based on the size, shape and characteristics of their eggs, larvae or cysts (found in the stool specimen).
- Antigen testing - This type of testing is able to detect giardia, hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm infections even when eggs aren't present.
how do i provide a proper fecal sample?
Fresher is better! The fact is that fresher stool samples give you more accurate and sensitive results. Eggs and larvae from some types of parasites, as well as protozoa and protozoan cysts, can become altered and unrecognizable the longer they sit out. For the best results, collect the freshest stool sample and bring it to us the same day. If this is not possible, you can seal the fecal sample in a ziploc® bag and refrigerate it until you can bring it tous. If you’re putting it in your refrigerator, we recommend being extra careful to not dirty the outside of the ziploc® bag and double bagging it to insure you do not contaminate your fridge and food.
how often does my pet need a fecal test?
We recommend testing adult dogs and cats at least once per year. Puppies and kittens may need to be tested more often in their first year of life.