Fecal Examination or Internal Parasite Testing
Internal parasites may be worms or other types of organisms that live inside of your dog or cat. Most often the term "internal parasite testing" refers to intestinal parasites. The most common method of checking for these parasites is to test a sample of your pet's feces.
How Is the Fecal Examination Performed?
All we need from you to complete a fecal examination is a small sample of your pet's feces.
Your pet's fecal sample will be prepared for examination by performing some specialized procedures on the sample that are designed to encourage the parasite eggs and larvae to become more easily located when the fecal sample is examined under a microscope.
Your pet's fecal sample will also be checked for an organism known as Giardia. Giardia is a single-celled organism that lives within your pet's intestinal tract. A specilized test will be performed on your dog or cat's fecal sample to look for this parasite.
I Check My Pet's Feces Regularly for Worms and Don't See Any. Why Is My Veterinarian Telling Me My Pet Has Intestinal Parasites?
Most intestinal parasites pass eggs or a similar life stage in your pet's feces when your pet is infected. These eggs are very tiny and are not visible to the naked eye. A microscope is necessary to locate and identify them. Therefore, you may never see worms in your pet's feces even though your pet is infected.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. Occasionally, especially if your pet is heavily infected with parasites (worms), you may see some adult worms passing in the feces. The most common adult worm you will find in the feces is the roundworm and the worm will look like a strand of spaghetti. Seeing these adult worms verifies that your pet has parasites. However, not seeing them does not necessarily mean that your dog or cat is not infected.
The other exception is the tapeworm. Tapeworms consist of a scolex (or head) that attaches to the inside of your pet's intestines. Behind the scolex is a chain of segments. Periodically, one or more of these segments will break off the chain and pass through your pet's feces. They will become visible either in or around the feces itself, or in the hair around your pet's anal region or under the tail. The segments resemble small grains of rice.
What Should I Do If My Pet Has Intestinal Parasites or Worms?
If your pet is infected with intestinal parasites or worms, our veterinarians will help you determine which medication will be most effective in ridding your pet of them while still being safe for your pet. There are many different types of deworming medications available and the proper choice will depend on the type of parasite and your dog or cat's individual health condition.