Fecal Exam

A fecal parasite exam tests a small dog feces sample for internal parasites or eggs.

Adult worms may live in the intestinal tract of dogs. The dog may not show any signs, and the adult worms may never be seen. If there are a more significant number of worms, the dog may have weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, lethargy, bloody stool and a distended abdomen. Adult worms may be seen in the dog’s stool, around the dog’s tail, or vomited up. Not only can they pose a risk to your dog’s health, but some worms are also “zoonotic” meaning they can infect humans. People who are very young, very old, or who are immunocompromised are at the highest risk.

What is a dog fecal parasite screen?

A fecal parasite screen is a lab procedure that is performed using a very small amount of feces from your dog. The sample is examined for internal parasites or their eggs.

The Fairview Animal Hospital follows the guidelines set by the Companion Animal Parasite Council and the American Animal Hospital Association. They recommend monthly broad-spectrum deworming and annual fecal parasite screening in adult dogs. More frequent screening in puppies is suggested as they may be born with internal parasites.

What does a fecal parasite screen reveal?

A fecal parasite screen reveals the presence of microscopic parasites such as giardia or coccidia. It also reveals the presence of microscopic eggs of such commonly seen worms as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and lungworms.

How is a fecal parasite screen performed?

We will send the fecal sample out to one of our diagnostic labs, Idexx or the Atlantic Vet College, and the results take a few days. The lab technicians will use a fresh sample of the submitted feces and smear a small amount on a microscope slide with a drop of saline to look for any signs of parasite motility or giardia. They will then mix the feces with a solution which, due to the specific gravity, enables any eggs to float to the top and adhere to a coverslip. The lab techs will look for the eggs under a microscope. The lab technicians centrifuge the sample first, spinning it at high speeds, which may reveal a higher number of eggs. Finally, they can combine these methods of looking for eggs, with an antigen test that identifies a protein produced by the adult worms. It will increase the chance of detecting infection as the adult worms are not continually shedding eggs that are looked for in the above methods.

What is the best method for collecting my dog’s stool?

A small amount of your dog’s stool can be collected directly after defecation in a clean plastic “poop” bag and brought into the clinic. You can ask us in advance for gloves to wear, and a container to use if you prefer. We do not need much. Ideally, a small area (tsp) from 3 different areas of the stool will give us the best results. It is important that we receive the sample as fresh as possible. If need be, it can be double-bagged and stored in your fridge for a few hours if it cannot be brought directly to the clinic.

How much does a dog stool test cost?

For pricing, please contact the hospital and we will be happy to provide you with an estimate.

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