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The Importance of Regular Fecal Exams for Cats & Dogs

Parasites can wreak havoc on the digestive system of your pet causing all kinds of uncomfortable symptoms. Here, our vets in Arlington talk about the purpose of fecal exams for dogs and cats, and what we can find when performing one.

What is a fecal exam?

When performing a fecal exam, your vet will take a close look at a sample of your pet's feces under a microscope. This can help to find parasites and parasitic eggs that may be present. 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.

With dogs spending a large portion of time outdoors which can expose them to a variety of parasites, fecal exams can be vital to diagnosing infections before they become too serious. 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 is the purpose of fecal exams for dogs and cats?

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. some parasitic infections can even be transmitted from your pet to you and your family.

The symptoms caused by these infections can be extremely uncomfortable. 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:

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

Do you need to prepare your dog or cat 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 Arlington 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.

If you would like to bring your pet in for a routine examination including a fecal, please contact our Arlington clinic today.

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Crossroads Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Arlington companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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