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The Importance of Regular Fecal Exams for Pets

The Importance of Regular Fecal Exams for Pets

You may have heard your veterinarian request you bring a sample of your pet's stool in for a fecal exam during your pet's last routine checkup. In this post, our Upland vets explain why these are important to maintaining your pet's health, and how fecal exams can protect both your pets and your home from harmful parasites. 

What is a fecal exam?

Also referred to as "fecals," fecal exams are a diagnostic test a veterinarian performs to assess a small sample of your pet's feces under a microscope. Fecals help vets to identify and treat infections that may otherwise be difficult to detect. Your primary care veterinarian may ask you to bring a sample of your dog or cat's feces into their animal hospital as part of your pet's routine exam. Our emergency and specialist veterinarians at Inland Valley Veterinary Specialists may also request a fecal exam if they are attempting to diagnose an illness. 

For dogs, it's important to have a fecal exam done annually since they spend a lot of time outside, where they can potentially pick up parasites and bacteria from other dogs, or from their environment. Cats should also have fecal exams, especially if they are indoor cats, as they can contract parasites from eating things they shouldn't. 

What do fecals detect?

Fecal exams can be used to detect numerous intestinal parasites, including hookworms and roundworms. Intestinal parasites can cause pets to become uncomfortable and irritable. These may even lead to more serious health issues, such as damage to various internal organs and the eyes. It's also important to note that some intestinal parasites can be transmitted from pets to people. 

Intestinal parasites reside in your pet's gastrointestinal tract, where they lurk and often cause symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Annual fecal exams allow your vet to detect internal parasites early. This early detection can lead to effective treatment that can potentially prevent serious health issues from arising, save your pet's life, and avoid transmission of parasites to people in your household. 

While you should have annual fecal exams done for your pets regardless of whether you notice any symptoms, here are some common signs of parasitic infection in cats and dogs to watch for:

  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Blood in stool 
  • Excessive hunger
  • Food avoidance 

How do I prepare for my pet's fecal?

When taking a fecal sample to the vet, make sure it's fresh and bring it on the same day as your appointment. 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. 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 veterinarian in Upland advises testing dogs and cats for parasites every year. Puppies and animals with gastrointestinal issues may require more frequent fecal exams. Speak to your vet to find out how often you should bring your pet's stool sample for testing.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet to diagnose your pet's condition accurately.

Is your pet due for a fecal exam, or do you need to bring one to a vet for diagnostic purposes? Contact our Upland vets to schedule an appointment and have the sample analyzed.

New Patients Welcome

Inland Valley Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced veterinarians care passionately about the health and well-being of Upland companion animals. Get in touch today to book your cat or dog's first appointment.

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Contact (909) 931-7871