Routine wellness care is vitally important when it comes to being an upstanding pet parent. Bringing your dog or cat in for routine examinations, keeping vaccines up to date, and administering parasite preventatives are just the tip of the iceberg, though.

Good wellness care in the veterinary world encompasses many things, and intestinal parasite prevention and control are an important aspect of that. While it may not be the most pleasant topic for polite company, Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates isn’t afraid to bring up the importance of pet fecal testing in caring for your furry babies.

The Scoop on Bringing Us the Poop

When we ask you to bring in your pet’s stool sample, it may strike you as an odd request. We don’t think anything of it, though, as it is such an important part of caring for our patients.

It is estimated that upwards of one-third of pets in the United States are infected with some type of intestinal parasite at any given time. Not all intestinal parasites are easily visible, so it is important that we routinely screen for them in order to keep our pet population as healthy as possible.

When we examine a pet’s stool specimen, we are evaluating for the presence of parasites such as:

  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Whipworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Coccidia
  • Giardia

Pet fecal testing is important because many of these infestations can have very few or no symptoms until things become very serious. Intestinal parasitism in pets can result in weight loss, diarrhea, an unhealthy coat, rectal irritation, and bloody stools. Serious infestations can even lead to malnutrition or anemia.

Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that many pet parasites are zoonotic, meaning they have the potential to also infect people. Parasites and people don’t mix well, and keeping our furry housemates parasite free is important to human health as well as animal health.

Myths About Pet Fecal Testing

While it may be somewhat difficult to believe, there are quite a few myths that surround pet fecal testing. We are here to debunk them one by one, once and for all.

Myth 1: My pet is mostly/always indoors and is not at risk for intestinal parasites – Even the most pampered pets can be exposed to parasites in their environment. Stray or wild animal populations may enter yards or common grounds, bringing parasites with them. Our animal friends also have closer contact with the ground which can host parasites and may drink standing water, grooming their paws or underbelly, and chewing on sticks, toys, and treats that have had contact with the ground. Pets may also encounter parasites when hunting small prey that can enter the home, including mice or crickets.

Myth 2: My pet takes heartworm preventative monthly so she is not at risk – Don’t get us wrong, heartworm preventatives are great and very important. Many of the options on the market do provide some protection against intestinal parasites. There are many types of parasites, though, and no preventative provides protection against all of them, making pet fecal testing essential.

Myth 3: My puppy/kitten has already been dewormed so I don’t need to check – Good deworming is important in puppy and kitten care, but it doesn’t excuse you from needing to bring that stool sample. Sometimes a pet may be infected with a parasite that needs a different type of dewormer or may need to be more aggressively dewormed. The CDC recommends that all puppies and kittens have four fecal tests within the first year of life.

Myth 4: My pet’s last fecal exam was free of parasites, so I don’t need to check a sample again – This is simply not true. Because parasite exposure happens every day of your pet’s life, it is vital to check as recommended (usually once to twice per year). Also, because of the differing life cycles of different parasites, eggs may not be shed in the feces continuously. This means that one negative stool check does not entirely rule out the possibility that your pet has parasites.

Pets and parasites are not a combination that we like to see. Don’t forget that you are your pet’s advocate and play a big role in keeping them safe and healthy. Call us today to be sure that your pet is up to date on parasite screening and don’t forget to bring a sample the next time you are in. The power is in the poop.