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Pets: Why Vets Ask For Stool Samples
by Diane Dodin, DVM
2005-12-14

This article shared 7626 times since Wed Dec 14, 2005
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Usually during annual check ups, your vet will ask you to bring in a stool sample from your pet. Though it may seem unpleasant to be carrying a sample of stool around with you, it does serve a very important purpose. Not only does a fecal exam benefit your pet, but it also benefits you and your family. The purpose of a stool sample is to check for intestinal parasites. Some common intestinal parasites are whipworms, roundworms, hookworms and coccidia. When the vet takes your pet's stool sample, he or she is actually looking for parasitic eggs in the sample. Each type of intestinal parasite will have a different incubation period. Just because intestinal parasites were not seen on a stool sample, doesn't mean there might not be eggs that may be seen later.

Roundworms are a very common intestinal parasite that is seen in dogs and cats of all ages. The most prevalent age group are the puppies and kittens. Younger animals can get roundworms before birth or through nursing. Eggs become infective in 2-7 weeks. Adult animals can become infested through raccoons or eating contaminated soil, vegetation or small mammals/birds with roundworm larvae. The significance of a roundworm infestation is that it can be passed to humans and affect the liver, lungs, eyes and brain.

Things that might be seen are fever, enlarged liver, lung infections, inflammation of the retina, blindness and severe sometimes fatal neurological disease. That is why it is always important to wash your hands after playing with your pet. Roundworms can be treated with deworming medication, but you should also make sure you pick up after your pet goes to the bathroom outside, to decrease the spread of infection.

Hookworms are another intestinal parasite commonly seen in cats and dogs. It can be passed to younger animals through nursing. Cats and dogs can also become infected through ingestion of infective larvae from the soil, vegetation or an infected host. Eggs release their infective larvae in only 2-8 days. People are at risk with hookworms as well. Cutaneous larvae migrans or 'creeping eruptions' are inflammation of exposed skin to hookworm larvae. If hookworms are ingested and develop in the lower intestines, it can lead to eosinophilic enteritis, with symptoms of fever and abdominal pain.

Early detection and proper deworming are the best defense against intestinal parasites. So, by bringing a stool sample to your vet every six months to one year, you can be helping your pet—as well as yourself.

Diane A. Dodin D.V.M. works at Abell Animal Hospital, 6032 Northwest Highway Chicago, IL, 60631 ( 773 ) 631-6727.


This article shared 7626 times since Wed Dec 14, 2005
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