All Things Pets

The Fecal Sample: A Vital Part Of Your Dog's Annual Physical

by Dean Oliver

When you're on the phone with your vet's office, making an appointment for your dog's annual physical, they'll generally ask you to bring a fecal sample with you to the appointment. Most owners oblige, but they don't always have a super clear idea of how to collect the sample or why the sample is so important. After reading this article, though, you will know all of those things — and be much better prepared to handle this aspect of your dog's annual physical!

Why is a fecal sample so important?

Since your dog is just going in for a well visit to ensure everything is okay, it may seem strange that the vet is asking for a fecal sample. However, fecal samples can tell the vet a lot about your dog during an annual exam.

The primary purpose is to analyze the sample for parasite eggs. The vet can put a small amount of feces under the microscope and check for eggs from tapeworms, roundworms, heartworms, and other parasites. Often, these parasites do not cause obvious symptoms in the early stages, so you may not realize there's an issue until eggs turn up in your dog's fecal sample. Luckily, the vet can easily treat most parasitic infections with deworming medications.

The vet will also visually inspect the feces for any evidence that your dog's digestive tract is not as healthy as it could be. Digested blood could mean, for example, that your dog has an ulcer. Overly hard feces could mean your dog is not drinking enough.

How do you collect the sample?

Many dog owners stress out over collecting a fecal sample for their dog's annual exam, but it's much simpler than you might think; Just use a plastic bag. Invert it over your hand, use it to scoop up a small amount of your dog's feces, turn the back inside out with the feces inside, and tie the bag in a knot.

You only need a piece or two of feces, and make sure you collect it within 12 hours of your dog's appointment. Many owners like to collect a sample the night before the appointment. But if your dog poops again in the morning, you can always collect a newer, fresher sample again and discard that old one.

When you get to the vet's office, just bring the sample with you into the exam room. It shouldn't smell or cause any other trouble through the plastic bag. The vet will take it in the back, analyze it, and let you know if there's anything to be concerned about.

A fecal sample is not hard to collect, and it can tell your vet a lot about your dog during the annual visit. If you have addition questions, contact your vet to discuss eveyrthing you need to know about the physical exam services they provide.