Fecal tests are important screens that are recommended to be performed each year at your pet’s annual physical exam. It detects any internal parasites that your pet may be carrying, including giardia, coccidia, tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Any of these parasites can easily be picked up by your pet from contact with another infected animal (including their mother or littermates), or contact with the feces of an infected animal, including feces of local wildlife.
This test is important for several reasons:
For your pet’s health:
The very definition of a parasite is an organism that thrives off of a host animal at the host’s expense. Parasites within the intestine feed on nutrients that would otherwise be absorbed and used by your pet, or in some cases, parasites can burrow into the intestinal wall, causing blood loss. Giardia, a tiny organism that multiplies and coats the intestinal wall, blocks absorption of water from the intestines, causes diarrhea, and can quickly dehydrate your pet.
For your family’s health:
Many parasites carried by dogs and cats can pose a zoonotic risk, which means they can be transmitted to humans. Poor hand hygiene after handling an infected pet or their feces is the main means of transmission, making children particularly susceptible to contracting parasitic infections.
As scary as these parasites can be, thankfully once diagnosed with a fecal test, treatment is usually simple with one or two short courses of anti-parasitic medication so that you and your family can have peace of mind knowing that you’re all in the clear!
Written by Amanda, ACA/CCR