Annual fecal exams are the best way to defend your pets and your household from parasitic infections. Our Visalia 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, or "fecals," are microscopic examinations of your pet's feces. Fecals help vets to identify and treat infections that may otherwise be difficult to detect. Your veterinarian may ask you to bring a sample of your cat or dog's feces if they are trying to diagnose an illness in them or for a routine wellness examination.
Annual fecal exams for dogs are important because of the amount of time dogs tend to spend outdoors, which exposes them to more bacteria and parasites left in the environment by other dogs. Cat fecal exams are important for a similar reason, though indoor cats in particular are more likely to contract parasites from eating something they're not supposed to.
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 bringing a fecal sample in to the veterinarian, bring a fresh sample of your pet's stool to the vet's office the same day that they are expecting you. 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. That's why, getting your pet's stool sample to us within 4-6 hours of collecting it will give the most accurate results.
How often does my pet need a fecal?
Our Visalia veterinarians 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.