Most humans avoid dog poop at all costs, but us veterinary health care professionals see your dog’s waste as a valuable opportunity to get a good picture of his overall health. Here is why fecal exams are important for your pet’s health.
What might be lurking in your dog’s poop
If your dog has been infected with intestinal parasites, it may be obvious when you look at his poop, because some parasites look like small spaghetti strands or grains of rice. Other parasites, like giardia and coccidia, cannot be seen with the naked eye. It’s important to detect these parasites because they can lead to:
- Weight loss
In addition to vomiting and diarrhea, a pet suffering from parasites may cough, scoot, or have a distended abdomen, but some dogs may show subtle signs or no signs at all. And, since many parasites can also be transmitted to humans, detecting, treating, and preventing them is vital to your family’s health.
Your pet’s fecal exams
Since the signs of a parasite infection can be subtle, the only way to properly diagnose parasites is through a fecal exam. Typically, we’ll ask to see your pet’s poop once per year during his regular preventive care examination. Additionally, we may want to perform a fecal exam when your dog or cat:
- Is experiencing gastrointestinal problems, like diarrhea or constipation
- Has a lifestyle that increases his risk of parasites, including visiting places where other pets congregate, like dog parks and boarding facilities
- Is a new puppy or kitten
When we ask you for a stool sample, be sure to bring one that is fresh so we can accurately diagnose any potential parasites.