Annual preventive care and testing can help protect your pet against many different parasites that can call the gastrointestinal tract home. Here, our vets in Los Angeles veterinarians talk about how fecals can help detect these parasites and what to expect during your cat or dog's fecal exam.
What is a fecal exam?
Fecal exams, or "fecal," for dogs and cats are microscopic examinations of your pet's feces. These are a standard part of routine preventive care for pets. 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 dog and cat fecal exams detect?
Your vet will use fecal exams to identify and diagnose parasitic infections affecting your pet. 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 can cause havoc on your pet causing many uncomfortable symptoms. Unfortunately, these parasites make their home within your pet's internal systems making them invisible to pet parents. This is why routine testing is crucial. The early detection of these parasites can lead to a better outcome compared to infections that have had the opportunity to become established.
While fecal exams should be performed annually, they may also be requested if your pet is displaying the following symptoms:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Food avoidance
- Excessive hunger
- Blood in stool
Do you need to prepare your pet for a fecal exam?
If your cat or dog is scheduled to have a fecal exam, you should collect the stool sample on the same day, as close to the appointment time as possible. 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 to 6 hours of collecting it will give the most accurate results.
How often should you bring your cat or dog for a fecal exam?
Our Los Angeles veterinarians recommend that all dogs and cats be tested annually for parasites. If you have a cat or dog that suffers from gastrointestinal issues or if you have a young puppy, they 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. They will be able to provide an in-depth preventive care plan for your pet's specific needs and lifestyle.
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.