Ok so we know everyone’s favorite part of being a pet owner is picking up land mines in the backyard or scooping the litter box right? NOT! Even better, is bringing in a sample of your pet’s business for testing- forgetting it on the counter, or in your fridge, or even in your car can make for a stinky situation! However it is an important, while unpleasant, part of ownership! If it’s been over a year since your pet has had a fecal test, or if you’ve just keep putting it off (or, yes, forgetting about it), now’s the time!  Spring is (or WAS!) here, the ground will be thawing, and you never know what might be lurking on the ground, even in your own backyard!

Some of you may be asking, why is a fecal test so important to test every year? Because, even a healthy pet can be carrying around worms, that’s why! The most common intestinal parasites in the US include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, giardia, coccidia, whipworms (dogs), or even toxocariasis (cats). These parasites can cause illness in your pet and can even be transmitted to people, children being the most vulnerable! Yuck!

Your probably thinking, my cat doesn’t even go outside or that your dog only goes outside just to do their business and comes back in.  A fecal test is still recommended! Your cat can get parasites from eating a flea while grooming themselves, ingesting rodents or insects, or even from contaminated soil and water. While indoor-only pets are at a lower risk for parasites, they can still be exposed. Other pets and even people that venture outdoors can bring parasite eggs inside on their paws or shoes from stepping in feces or contaminated areas. Here’s even a fun fact to ponder, did you know that 15% of potting soil can contain roundworm eggs, making indoor plants a risk for transmission?

The majority of these parasites are not even visible to the eyes. Microscopes are needed in order to see eggs or “cysts” on a slide, sometimes making detection tricky. Eggs are also not shed continuously, so while a fecal sample may look negative, it does not rule out the existence of parasites. Lucky for you and your pet, our fecal screening detects antigens of roundworms, hookworms, and giardia.

Your pet may have diarrhea, lethargy, potbellied appearances in puppies & kittens (about 95% have some sort of parasite!), vomiting, weight loss or even NO symptoms at all. While treatment for parasites is pretty simple, unfortunately there is not one deworming medication that will treat all parasites. Which brings us back to why testing is so important! Knowing what we are treating for helps your veterinarian prescribe the right prescription for your pet.

Now here are 2 more reasons to check your pet’s stool sample besides all the health risks to not only your pet, but you too!  The Dog Park-Fecal testing is required to enter the Country Hills Dog Park. We provide a safe and controlled environment for clients and their pets! Wellness Plans- All levels of our Petly Plans include a yearly fecal test, making it easier for you financially and ease of remembering to bring in that sample too!

After all that, how to even get a sample may be crossing your mind. Rest assured it’s pretty simple, the hard part is just remembering to bring it along to your visit. After your pet leaves a fresh sample outside or in the box, scoop it into a Ziploc bag, a grocery bag, a plastic container, or even that old cool whip container you have laying around! It doesn’t matter to us if it’s in a McDonald’s big mac box (yup we’ve seen it!) as long as it’s fresh within 24 hours and has been kept cool, NOT frozen.  You don’t even have to bring the entire smelly pile, just a good chunk that’s at least a tablespoon in size is sufficient for testing!

So for any of the reasons listed above, the time is now to test your pet’s fecal!

We also have been seeing a lot of positive tests lately and even more confused owners! Here’s the scoop on Giardia!

Giardia is a common protozoal disease seen year-round in both our dogs and cats. What’s a protozoa you may ask, it is a single-celled organism that is neither a bacteria or virus. Other examples of protozoal parasites are Coccidia, Cryptosporidia, and Toxoplasma.

Giardia is a zoonotic disease, this means it can be transmitted to us from our pets. Giardia is passed by coming in contact with contaminated stool or water; it must be ingested to become infected.  Pets can get it by drinking from stagnant water like ponds & puddles or by eating stool at the dog park or during a walk. While infection from pets to humans is rare- it does happen. Most commonly people get it from drinking untreated water- like streams, ponds, or even swimming pools, or eating uncooked, raw foods! Good hygiene is key when dealing with this type of infection. After cleaning up after your pet, whether it is a litter box or picking up outside, always wash your hands. On a side note- wearing gloves while gardening can also protect you from Giardia.

How would I know if my dog has this? The most common clinical sign is diarrhea. Other symptoms may include gas or greasy stool. However, some pets can be infected yet may not show any signs at all! This is why we recommend checking a routine stool sample yearly to make sure it doesn’t go undetected.

My pet has it- what do I do? Giardia is easily treated with two medications, an antibiotic called Metronidazole  and a dewormer called Panacur.  While the Metronidazole is given short term, only 5-7 days, the Panacur is repeated again in 3 weeks. Six weeks after initial detection, a repeat test is recommended. Strongly infected pets may need more than one round of medications. Because Giardia is contagious, if one pet is affected, all the pets in the household therefore need to be treated as well. Otherwise you could be in for a never ending cycle of diarrhea, stool testing, and medications- yuck!

Remember always to ask your veterinarian before trying any home remedies or over the counter medications!