Intestinal Parasites and Annual Fecal Examinations
In addition to a physical examination and vaccinations, each year a fecal (stool) sample from our dogs and cats should be examined, looking for intestinal parasites. This test takes about 15 minutes, and can be performed in our clinic at the time of the physical exam. Parasites we commonly find include Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms, Tapeworms, Coccidia and Giardia. You might be thinking, “I’m not seeing any worms in my pet’s stool, can they still have intestinal parasites?” The answer is a definite YES! Other than tapeworms, most intestinal parasites either do not pass in the stool (at least not until they’re dead!), or they are so tiny that you would never notice them if they did!
It’s important to routinely have your pet’s stool checked for these parasites because prolonged infestations can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, anemia, poor hair coats, or malnutrition. Additionally, many of these nasty creatures can be transmitted from your pet to yourself, and particularly to children! Adult cats and dogs should have a fecal examination performed annually. Puppies and kittens should have their stools checked 2-3 times during the initial vaccination series as some parasites undergo a migration within the body which delays their detection in the stool. Fortunately, intestinal parasites are generally easy to treat once we know what we are dealing with. Each type of parasite requires a specific medication, so performing the fecal examination is necessary to ensure that we treat effectively.
So next time you schedule your pet for an annual exam or booster vaccinations, be sure to bring in a small amount of their fresh stool to be analyzed so we can continue to help keep your furry friends happy and healthy!
-Dr. Chris Wilson