Ask Seth: Annual Stool Samples

My dog Dempsey was diagnosed with roundworms and treated as a puppy. Why does my vet insist on a stool sample annually? ls it really necessary?

Dear Seth,

My dog, Dempsey, was diagnosed with roundworms and was treated when he was a puppy. Why does the vet insist on having a stool sample each year? Is it necessary?

Christine, Virginia Beach, VA

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This is a common question that occurs in the vet office. YES. The stool sample is part of a complete physical. Intestinal parasites can be present with no clinical signs of infestation. But on the other hand, can cause severe diarrhea and even bloody stool. Fecal exams should be run at least once a year. This is because most intestinal parasites are diagnosed by microscopic fecal examination that uses solutions to help concentrate the parasite eggs. Visual confirmation of a parasite eggs is used to diagnose and treat infestations. Some parasites are visible in the stool but are not consistently shed in the feces. These visible parasites are commonly segments from a tapeworm (looks like rice) or roundworms passed in the feces (looks like spaghetti). Certain intestinal parasites are only one cell and these are called protozoan and consist of coccidia, giardia, and cryptosporidium. Because the reproductive cycle for these protozoan includes them to be shed in the feces and then await a new host.

Each parasite has a specific medication that can be prescribed to combat the intestinal parasite. Fecal exams are used as a diagnostic tool to allow the veterinarian to provide animals to live a parasite free life.

Seth Mayersohn, CVT

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