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The Importance of Regular Fecal Exams for Pets

In today's post, you will learn why regular fecal exams are important for your pet, and how your pet's fecal exams help to protect your family from intestinal parasites.

What is a fecal exam?

Fecal exams, also known as "fecals", are examinations of a pet's poop under a microscope. These quick and easy tests help veterinarians identify and treat a range of internal parasites that may otherwise be difficult to detect. Many vets request that pet parents bring along a sample of their pet's feces when diagnosing gastrointestinal issues or proactively as part of a pet wellness exam.

For dogs, it's important to do a fecal exam every year because they spend a lot of time outside, where they can pick up bacteria and parasites from other dogs. Cats should also have fecal exams, especially if they're outdoor cats, as they can get parasites from eating wild prey such as birds and rodents.

What do fecals detect?

A number of intestinal parasites can be detected using a fecal exam, including roundworms and hookworms. Intestinal parasites make pets irritable and uncomfortable and may lead to more serious health issues.

Intestinal parasites live in your pet's gastrointestinal tract, where they are hidden from view. Annual fecal exams allow your vet to detect and treat intestinal parasites early. 

While you should get annual fecal exams for your pets regardless, there are some symptoms of parasitic infection in cats and dogs you can look out for at the same time:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Food avoidance
  • Excessive hunger
  • Blood in stool

How can my pet's fecal exam help to keep my family healthy?

Some intestinal parasites that are common in cats and dogs can be transmitted to people. Early detection of parasites through fecal tests, allows your vet to provide prompt treatment. The sooner intestinal parasites are cleared from your pet's body, the less chance there is of them being transferred to you or your family members. This means, your pet's annual fecal exam helps to keep you healthy too.

How do I prepare for my pet's fecal?

When taking a fecal sample to the vet, make sure it's fresh. That means collecting the sample on the same day as you will be dropping it off at the vet's office. If the stool sample dries out or dehydrates, it will kill off many of the potential parasites, which could mask their presence in the sample. Getting your pet's stool sample to the vet within 4-6 hours of collecting it will provide the most accurate results. 

How often does my pet need a fecal?

Our veterinarian in Ambler recommends testing dogs and cats for parasites at least once a year. Puppies and animals with gastrointestinal issues may require more frequent fecal exams. Speak to your vet to find out how often you should bring your pet's stool sample for testing.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is it time for your pet to have a fecal exam? Contact our Ambler vets today to book an appointment for your furry friend.

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