Bringing your furry friend in for annual preventive care including a fecal exam is crucial to their ongoing health. Here, our vets in Rochester talk about how fecal exams can help detect these parasites in your pet and what to expect during your cat or dog's visit.

What is a fecal exam?

Fecal exams, or 'fecal', for dogs and cats are microscopic examinations of your pet's feces. These are a standard part of routine preventive care for pets. Fecals help vets to identify and treat infections that may otherwise be difficult to detect. Your veterinarian may ask you to bring a sample of your cat or dog's feces if they are trying to diagnose an illness in them or for a routine wellness examination.

Annual fecal exams for dogs are important because of the amount of time dogs tend to spend outdoors, which exposes them to more bacteria and parasites left in the environment by other dogs. Cat fecal exams are important for a similar reason, although cats most commonly contract parasites through eating things they shouldn't.

What is the purpose of fecal exams for dogs and cats?

Your vet will use fecal exams to identify and diagnose parasitic infections causing gastrointestinal distress for your pet. Intestinal parasites make pets irritable and uncomfortable and may lead to more serious health issues. Many parasites can also be transmitted from pets to people. This makes early diagnosing very important for the health of both the pets and people in your family.

Intestinal parasites can cause havoc on your pet causing many uncomfortable symptoms. Unfortunately, these parasites make their home within your pet's internal systems making them invisible to pet parents. This makes ongoing routine fecal tests a vital part of your pet's regular veterinary care. By diagnosing parasites early we can help treat them before any serious complications occur.

While fecal exams should be performed annually, they may also be requested if your pet is displaying the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Food avoidance
  • Excessive hunger
  • Blood in stool

Do you need to prepare your cat or dog for a fecal exam?

If your cat or dog is scheduled to have a fecal exam, you should collect the stool sample on the same day, as close to the appointment time as possible. If the stool sample dries out or dehydrates it will kill off many of the potential parasites, which could mask their presence in the sample. This is why the most accurate results are obtained from stool samples that have been collected within four to six hours of the appointment.

How often should you bring your cat or dog for a fecal exam?

Our Rochester veterinarians recommend that all dogs and cats be tested annually for parasites. If you have a cat or dog that suffers from gastrointestinal issues or if you have a young puppy, they may require more frequent fecal exams.

Your vet will let you know how often you should be bringing a stool sample in for testing. They will provide you with an in-depth preventive care plan for your pet's specific needs and lifestyle.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog or cat in need of an annual exam including preventive care? Please contact our Rochester office today to schedule an appointment.