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Why bother running a fecal on my pet?

Cosmo and Jake are protected from intestinal worms

We are going to discuss the nasty topic of fecal exams today. I know it isn't pleasant to have to bring a fecal sample along with your pet to the vet appointment, but it is necessary to protect both your pet and family!

Animals can transmit certain intestinal parasites to people. (This is called a zoonotic transmission of the parasite.) When we check the animal's fecal sample for intestinal worms we are protecting your pet from disease and your family from disease. The goal is to find the microscopic worm eggs before your pet is sick, and are seeing worms in their poo.

Roundworm are transmissible from pets to people. Young children are at great risk of getting roundworms from pets because they aren't good about washing their hands before eating. Roundworm can mature in the human body and migrate to many different organs, causing disease or blindness. Roundworm are very common in dogs and cats. Most puppies and kittens are born with roundworm, and need to be dewormed beginning at 4-6 weeks of age. Roundworm eggs are shed in the animals poo, and can contaminate yards and parks. Your dog can get roundworm from going for a walk around the block. Strictly indoor cats should also be tested for roundworm because 15% of potting soil is contaminated with roundworm eggs. Humans can track roundworm eggs in on their shoes. Symptoms of roundworm in animals include diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss.

Hookworm are also transmissible from animals to humans. Infected animals transmit hookworm eggs in their poo. The eggs will hatch out and the larval form (baby worms) will infest the yard. Hookworm larvae can penetrate human skin and cause humans to be infested also. The migrating larvae are very irritating and can cause an infection (see photo below). People can get hookworm by simply walking in the yard without shoes. They can also pick them up at the beach. Dogs and cats pick up hookworm the same way people do. Symptoms of hookworm in animals include skin problems, diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss.

The good news is worms can be treated! We need to identify the problem first with a simple fecal exam. We don't need a huge fecal sample, a sample the size of a sugar cube works well. The sample should be kept in a plastic bag and kept cool (never frozen). Unfortunately, "poopsicles" don't work because worm eggs will burst when frozen. The fresher the sample the better. You can collect the sample up to 18 hrs prior to the appointment and store it in a plastic bag. Kitty litter on the sample does not interfere with the test.

Microscopic view of worm eggs we look for in pets

If you would like to check out the prevalence of intestinal worms in our area, please see the Companion Animal Parasite Council website by clicking HERE.

Questions? Call us at (630) 859-0471 or Email us

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