Why Fecal Screenings Matter

As a responsible pet owner, keeping your furry friends healthy and happy is a top priority. Regular veterinary check-ups are a staple, but one specific test that is often overlooked yet crucial for your pet’s well-being is the fecal exam. We know it’s not the most pleasant topic—trust us, it’s not our favorite part of the day, either! But it is important—Let’s look at why this test is essential, especially here in Texas, where our pets love to explore the great  outdoors.

Microscopic dangers, big problems

Fecal screenings are often declined because an owner reports the pet’s stool “looks fine.” However, many parasitic infections can only be detected through a microscopic fecal screening. Common parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, giardia, tapeworms, and coccidia are often lurking in your pet’s digestive tract, and just because you don’t see any visible parasites doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Infections like hookworms are notorious for causing anemia, which can be particularly dangerous in young and elderly pets, potentially leading to severe health issues.

It’s a human health issue, too

Regular fecal testing is not just about keeping your pet healthy; it’s about protecting your family and community from potential threats. Many parasites aren’t just a concern for your pet; some are zoonotic, meaning they can also be transmitted to humans. This risk is particularly high for young children, who are more likely to come into contact with contaminated soil or feces.

Indoor cats aren’t immune

It’s a common misconception that indoor pets are safe from parasites. However, even cats that never venture outdoors can contract parasites through intermediate hosts. An insect can carry these parasites into your home and to your pet, or they can get tracked in on shoes or paws from pets that venture outdoors.

Sometimes they have symptoms; sometimes they don’t

Some common symptoms of parasitic infections include diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, blood in the stool, and general lethargy. These signs can often be vague (and indications of many other issues), and without a fecal exam, it can be challenging to pinpoint the exact cause of your pet’s illness. It’s also crucial to note that many pets can be asymptomatic carriers of parasites. These pets may appear perfectly healthy, but they can still spread infections to other animals and humans. Regular fecal testing is the only way to identify these hidden infections so that appropriate treatment can be started before any symptoms arise or transmission occurs.

Stay informed

Understanding the risks and symptoms of parasitic infections in pets is the first step! Regular fecal exams are a critical part of your pet’s health regimen, helping to catch these infections early on. To learn more about the importance of parasite control and to stay updated on the best practices for keeping your pets and family safe, visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council website.

Sample collection 101

By now, we hope we’ve convinced you how important it is to do regular fecal screenings for your pet. Ready to collect a sample? Here’s how to do it:

  1. Take a sample container or a bag from the clinic.
  2. Walk with your dog and pick up their poop like normal but put it in the sample bag or plastic container. If collecting for a cat, keep an eye on the litter box and get a fresh sample with as little litter as possible.
  3. Seal the sample up tight.
  4. Drop off the sample at the clinic within 24 hours. Be sure to label it with your name and your pet’s name.
  5. Pat yourself on the back for being a responsible pet owner!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call or text us at (214) 826-4800—we’re ready to help!