Annual fecal exams are the best way to defend your pets and your household from parasitic infections. Our Benton veterinarians explain what happens during a fecal exam and why they are important to maintaining your pet's health.
What is a fecal exam?
Fecal exams, also known as "fecals," involve microscopic analysis of your pet's stool. These exams are valuable tools for veterinarians to identify and treat infections that might otherwise be challenging to detect. Your vet may request a sample of your cat or dog's feces, either for diagnosing an illness or as part of a routine wellness check-up.
For dogs, annual fecal exams are particularly important due to their increased outdoor exposure, which exposes them to various bacteria and parasites left behind by other dogs in the environment.
Similarly, cat fecal exams are crucial for assessing parasite infections, especially for indoor cats that may come into contact with parasites by consuming inappropriate substances.
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. It's also important to note that some intestinal parasites can be transmitted from pets to people.
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:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Food avoidance
- Excessive hunger
- Blood in stool
How do I prepare for my pet's fecal?
When you need to provide a fecal sample to the veterinarian, make sure to bring a fresh sample of your pet's stool on the same day of your appointment. If the stool sample dries out or loses moisture, it can affect the viability of potential parasites, potentially hiding their presence in the sample.
That's why it's important to deliver your pet's stool sample to the vet within 4-6 hours of collection to ensure the most accurate results.
How often does my pet need a fecal?
Our Benton vveterinarians recommend that all dogs and cats be tested annually for parasites. Puppies and animals with gastrointestinal issues may require more frequent fecal exams. Speak to your vet to find out how often you should bring in your pet’s stool sample for testing.