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Why do you need to bring a fecal sample to the vet?

It isn't just because we enjoy the stinky packages; it's to help keep your pets and your family

safe and healthy. Many of the intestinal parasites that our pets are exposed to can actually be

transferred to humans. These "zoonotic" diseases are completely preventable through regular

screenings and good hygiene practices (washing your hands before eating, cleaning up bowel

movements immediately, etc.)

Most puppies and kittens are born with roundworms, a long spaghetti shaped worm that causes

bloated bellies, soft stools, and vomiting. In puppies, this parasite is actually transmitted

through the mother's placenta or through nursing. Infections in adult pets are most often

caused from exposure to infected stool. If humans accidentally ingest one of these eggs, they

can get an infection as well, which often attacks the eyes or internal organs. Always bring a

stool sample along with you when you adopt a new puppy or kitten so that we can screen for these parasites!

Have you seen any fleas on your pet? Even if you haven't, you should always be on the lookout

for tapeworms. The eggs are ingested when your pet grooms themselves. When infected, you

may see rice-like or maggot-like segments under the tail or on stool. And remember to wash

your hands well because these can also infect humans!

The other "worms" that we see are whipworms and hookworms. Whipworms are mostly found in

dogs and can cause chronic diarrhea and other health complications if not treated. They can be

difficult to diagnose because of their long life cycle. They are very resistant in the environment

so reinfection is common. Hookworms are different than the other parasites because they

actually suck blood through the intestinal walls and can cause severe anemia and even death in

small animals. They can enter pets and people through the skin and move through the body to

the intestines. We also commonly see two protozoal parasites in our pets as well, called giardia

and coccidia. Each of these can cause diarrhea in our pets but are not commonly spread to

people.

I hope that this parasite summary will encourage you to bring a fecal sample to avoid the

possible risk to you and your family. We recommend checking a sample at every puppy and

kitten visit and twice yearly for adult pets as well as any time they have diarrhea. If you would

like more information about this topic, please call Princeton Animal Hospital at 609-520-2000 or check out the

Companion Animal Parasite Council's website at www.capcvet.org.

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