Intestinal Parasites- An Overview

You have heard us discussing the importance of getting a “fecal” at every preventive care visit and you know your pet is not a huge fan of that blue loop. Have you ever wondered what is going on and why it is so important to get that sample?

The Fecal Sample

On all of our preventive care visits (canine annuals and biannuals, feline annuals, and puppy and kitten booster visits), we need to get a fecal sample to check for intestinal parasites. Most of the time, this involves getting a fresh sample straight from the source. We use a small blue plastic fecal loop that has had lube applied to the end of it to get a sample from the pet. We then mix that sample with a special solution that has a high specific gravity. This solution allows any parasite eggs to float to the top of the sample. After allowing it to float for 10 minutes, we look at the sample under the microscope.

Make a Diworms simonfference

As you can imagine, many pets (especially cats!) are not a big fan of those little blue loops. You can make a significant difference in the stress of their visit! For preventive care visits, we recommend bringing in a fresh sample (less than 12 hours old) in a plastic Ziploc bag. This means we do not have to “go to the source,” which your pet will surely appreciate. If you are not sure if you need to bring in a sample, call and ask!

What are we looking for?

When we look in the microscope, we are looking for the egg stages of common intestinal worms such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Additionally, we are looking for some very small parasites, such as coccidia and giardia.

What now?

If we see parasites, we need to treat for them! Intestinal parasites can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets, as well as robbing them of vital nutrition. In addition, roundworms and hookworms have zoonotic potential, which means they can possibly cause disease in humans. In addition to treating your pet with a parasiticide targeted to the intestinal parasite that was found, we recommend cleaning up feces immediately. This will keep the eggs in the feces from developing into the infectious larval stages which can re-infect your pet or you!


In the coming weeks, we will dive more deeply into the different parasites, how your pet might be exposed, and things you can do to keep them protected!

As always, if you are seeing intestinal parasites or are concerned about the health of your pet, please give us a call at 256-881-2482.


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