The Importance of Performing Routine Fecal Exams
Not only for your pet but for YOU!
“Why does my Vet always want my dogs’ poop??”
Internal parasites are very common in our pets, especially in young puppies and kittens. Normal behaviors (such as eating directly off the ground, drinking out of puddles, grooming, and playing fetch and pouncing and biting items on the ground) predispose dogs and cats to parasitic infections all year long. Dogs and cats also acquire parasitic infections from infected prey (e.g., rabbits and mice) or fleas that serve as intermediate hosts for different parasites. Appropriate fecal examinations should be performed on puppies and kittens at least 2–4 times during the first year of life and 1–2 times per year in adults.
“I can get WORMS from my dog or cat?!”
YES! Some internal parasites are zoonotic, meaning that they can be passed on from animals to humans. Some of the most common internal parasites that are zoonotic are Roundworms, Tapeworms, Giardia, and Hookworms!
These parasites can be transmitted by letting an infected dog lick you on the face/mouth and not washing your hands after disposing of your dogs’ feces. Hookworms can infect humans by penetrating the skin. This is most likely to occur when walking barefoot on the beach, working in the garden or other areas where pets may deposit feces.
“How can I prevent the potential spread of worms from my pets to me, my family, and the public?”
- Make sure your pet is under a veterinarian’s care to help protect your pet and your family from possible parasite infections. Performing yearly fecal exams and deworming is essential!
- Practice “The 4 Ps: Pick up Pet Poop Promptly”, and dispose of properly. Be sure to wash your hands after handling pet waste.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching animals, and avoid contact with animal feces.
- Follow proper food-handling procedures to reduce the risk of transmission from contaminated food.
- For people with weakened immune systems, be especially careful of contact with animals that could transmit these infections.