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Do I Really Need To Bring My Dog's Fecal Sample To My Vet Every Year?

Updated on June 21, 2013

Yearly Checkups And Poop Samples

Ok, I know what you're thinking right off the bat - Do I really need to bring a smelly bag of my dog's poop into the vet's office with me? The answer is yes!!!

From my very first semester to graduation, one of the coolest classes I had during the Vet Tech program was Parasitology. For 3-4 hours once a week, I would prepare poop samples on microscope slides and go on a scavenger hunt for parasites. When I would find the pesky critter or a few of the critter's eggs, I would feel very accomplished. Accomplished yet very afraid. The poop samples came from the students' pets in my class!

What a lot of people don't know is that parasites can be lurking in the backyard. Whenever Fluffy goes outside to go to the bathroom, the potential to pick up an intestinal parasite is definitely there. Do you ever see rabbits in your backyard? Any squirrels or chipmunks running through your bushes? How about any birds landing in the yard? If you answered yes, then Bingo! Your dog may be at risk for picking up an intestinal parasite. These tiny little creatures could potentially be depositing eggs or cysts in your backyard.

And more importantly, some of these parasites can be transferred from pets to people!

Common Intestinal Parasites of the Dog

Roundworms - Known as Ascarids, this class of parasite contains different type of species. The most common roundworm species is Toxocara canis which CAN infect humans. Many puppies can be infected by the mother through the placenta or her milk.

Hookworms - The eggs of this parasite will hatch in soil. Hookworms can be transferred to puppies by the mother's milk. Some Hookworm species can also be transmitted by skin penetration. This parasite CAN infect humans.

Whipworms - This parasite's eggs can sometimes stay dormant in the environment for a few weeks to a few years. Most common infections are seen in adult dogs. Clinical signs are seen with an increasing number of Whipworms - you may not notice any signs if the parasite burden is low.

Tapeworms - The most common tapeworm that infects dogs is called Dipylidium caninum. Infection occurs from eating fleas containing this type of tapeworm. Other species of tapeworms are found in small animals and can be transferred to the dog if that animal is ingested. This parasite CAN infect humans.

Giardia - Technically considered a protozoa, Giardia can infect almost any mammal, including humans, as well as birds. The cysts produced from this protozoa can survive in water and can be found in contaminated food.

The Best Way To Prevent Parasites In Your Dog

The world of intestinal parasites can be creepy-crawly and scary, but, have no fear! Your vet can put your mind at ease. Using a monthly heartworm preventative year round for your pet has added bonuses beside preventing heartworms. Most preventatives will also deworm your dog. If you aren't using a heartworm preventative with your furballs at home, you should talk to your vet at your next visit. Most preventatives come in chewable tablet form that are given once a month and can provide parasite protection for your pet and family members.

How Often Do You Send In A Fecal Sample To Your Vet?

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