Fecal testing for pets is one of the best ways your vet can check your furry friend for intestinal parasites. Testing your pet’s poop every 6 months can make sure that your pet dog or cat isn’t suffering from worms. A bi-yearly fecal test can help to catch parasites early and mean that they are easier to treat.
Let’s look in more detail at the important reasons to get your pet’s poop checked twice a year for parasites.
Prevalence of intestinal parasites in pets
Dogs and cats pick up parasites from infected soil, water, food, or other animal feces. Ticks can also cause tapeworm infections in dogs. This is a great reason to visit your vet and talk about flea and tick control programs.
The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine reported that 38% of dogs attending parks in Northern California had intestinal parasites. From these infected dogs, 54% of the animals didn’t show any signs of a parasitic infection. (1)
Intestinal parasites affect your pet’s health
Intestinal parasites like hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, and giardia can play havoc with your pet’s health. At the start of the parasitic infection, your pet may not show any signs at all. However, as the number of parasites increase, your pet may start vomiting, having diarrhea, passing bloody poop, and lose weight.
Because intestinal parasites can go undetected for months and even years, is a very good reason to get fecal testing on your pet carried out every 6 months.
What does a fecal testing involve?
To get your pet tested for worms, giardia, or coccidia, it’s necessary to bring in a fresh stool sample. This will help to ensure that results from the bi-annual fecal test are as accurate as possible.
The only way to check to see if parasites are in your pet’s fecal matter is to examine it under a microscope. There are 3 ways that fecal testing is done:
- Smear test where a small sample of stool is placed on a glass slide and examined.
- Flotation involves putting the poop sample in a special solution were any eggs will float to the top.
- Centrifugation is used to spin down a fecal sample in a special solution to check for evidence of parasites.
Can humans become infected with parasites from pets?
Parasites in pets are zoonotic which mean that they can spread from animals to humans. So, parasites that can affect your pet can also affect you and your family.
That is another reason to arrange for semi-annual fecal testing at your local veterinary clinic.
Parasitic infections can be transmitted to humans if you walk around barefoot in your garden where there has been some poop there. Or, you could get a hookworm or other parasite by not washing your hands after playing with your pet.
How to prevent parasite infections
There are a few easy ways how you can reduce the chance of you and your pet becoming infected with a parasite.
- Use flea and tick preventative measures to keep your pets flea-free.
- Arrange for fecal testing once or twice a year. If your pet is under 12 months old, then arrange for fecal testing every 3 or 4 months.
- Speak to your vet about heartworm treatments that include protection against hookworms and roundworms.
- Don’t allow your pet to eat raw meat.
- Always wash your hands after touching or handling animal feces.
- Don’t walk in public parks barefoot and use gloves when gardening.
Photo by Marlon Lara on Unsplash.