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Why do I need to have a stool sample checked for parasites? Why twice a year?

Intestinal parasites are extremely common and threaten your pet's health. Large numbers can cause intestinal blockage, bloody diarrhea and even premature death in young or weakened pets. Certain types can also infest you and your family.  Protecting your pet and the people you love from intestinal parasites can be as easy as routine fecal testing.  Zoonotic parasites can be transferred from animals to humans, and can affect you and your pet’s health in the following ways:

  • Parasites can rob their host of nutrition
  • Parasites can damage internal organs
  • Parasites can cause allergic reactions
  • Parasites can release toxins into the body
  • Parasites can cause blood loss and anemia

Some common and easily treatable internal parasites that can pass from pets to people include:

Intestinal Parasite

  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Cryptosporidia
  • Giardia
  • Tapeworms
  • Toxoplasma 

Infestation can occur through an insect bite, ingestion of a flea during normal grooming, contact with infected animals, their droppings and contaminated food or water.  Even if your pet walks through grass that has previously has infested feces, then comes home and licks his paws, he can become infested this way.  Even indoor-only animals are risk.  Insects can make their way through screen doors, parasite eggs can come in on human shoes, or brought in by your dog or other indoor/outdoor pets.  Did you know that 15% of potting soil contains roundworm eggs, so even your houseplants might be infesting your pet!

Symptoms include anemia, diarrhea, vomiting, appetite loss, weight loss, constipation and coughing.  However, many pets may show NO symptoms, which is why ROUTINE testing is so important.

Diagnosis is based on microscopic examination of your pet's stool sample to detect the presence and type of parasite infestation. Retesting is necessary after treatment to ensure the parasite is truly gone.

Treatment is precise and based on the exact type of parasite(s) present.  many prescribed medications are given orally and some require injections.  Worms and their eggs can be difficult to destroy and follow-ups are neceesary. 

We recommend testing a fecal on new puppies and kittens twice before 16 weeks of age, and twice a year after that to screen for parasites. These parasites are very common in dogs and cats, even if they never leave the house or go outside the backyard.  Remember, these parasites are not just found in other pets, but are very common in wildlife as well, which can come in and saturate your backyard with parasite eggs. In addition, these can be spread to humans, especially children. They can make pets and humans very sick.

For more information, please refer to www.petsandparasites.org

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