Fecal tests are important both in healthy and ill pets. We recommend routine fecal testing for all puppies and kittens, and a yearly fecal test for adult pets. If your pet is sick, there are several additional fecal tests that we might recommend, depending on the specific situation.
The most common routine test is called fecal centrifugation. This test is done to look for parasites, both one-celled parasites and worms. To do this test, we need about a heaping tsp of poop, and ideally, it is done on relatively fresh stool. If it is more than 6 hours old, we prefer that you keep the sample refrigerated and in a closed container. We provide a container for this or you can collect the sample in a zip lock bag. If the sample is from a cat, the kitty litter does not need to be removed.
Another common test the we recommend, usually for patients with diarrhea, is a direct fecal. For this test we need very fresh stool. We look at a thin smear of stool under the microscope for red blood and white blood cells. We can also see certain abnormal bacteria or one celled parasites. We do this test in house and have immediate results.
For identification of specific organisms, such as Giardia, viruses, or Salmonella, we either do a PCR test or a fecal culture. These tests are done for patients with more severe or chronic diarrhea. Results are usually available within a few days.
If your pet fecal test turns out positive, we will prescribe an appropriate medication. A second fecal test is often necessary to ensure that the treatment was successful. And please remember to bring a fecal sample with you for your pet's annual check up. This is a very important part of keeping your pet healthy!
Dr Yael Blass, DVM, San Bruno Pet Hospital