Diseases Vets Test for in Fecal Samples for Dogs

by Deborah Lundin
    Raw salmon can cause salmon poisoning disease, a condition diagnosed through fecal tests.

    Raw salmon can cause salmon poisoning disease, a condition diagnosed through fecal tests.

    Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

    While the mere mention of collecting a sample for a fecal test is enough to make many dog owners cringe, this test is a powerful diagnostic tool for your veterinarian. Whether a regular checkup finds a parasitic infection or your dog is experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, a fecal test allows your veterinarian to look for a variety of parasites and worms.

    Worms

    Intestinal worms, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms, are common in puppies and dogs. These worms can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, blood loss, weight loss, vomiting and lethargy. Only roundworms and tapeworms are large enough to see with the naked eye, and you can find them in infected stool. Other worms, and worm eggs, are found when the veterinarian performs a fecal test and places the stool under a microscope. Positive ID allows the vet to choose the appropriate worming treatment.

    Giardia

    The protozoan parasite Giardia intestinalis causes giardia infection in dogs, causing a foul-smelling diarrhea, often with mucus or blood. This is a zoonotic condition that can spread to human companions. Diagnosis of giardia occurs through fecal testing. The cysts stage of the parasite passes into the dog’s feces and can be detected through a fecal float test and microscopic examination. In a fecal float test, a suspension medium separates fecal debris from possible parasites, making a cleaner sample for the microscope.

    Cryptosporidium

    Another intestinal parasite, Cryptosporidium, causes cryptosporidiosis in dogs. Your dog picks up this parasite through ingestion of contaminated water, food or feces. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, lethargy, muscle weakness and lack of appetite. Cryptosporidium is a zoonotic parasite and your dog can spread the infection to you. Diagnosing cryptosporidiosis occurs through fecal flotation and fecal spears under the microscope.

    Salmon Poisoning

    Salmon poisoning is a condition found in dogs in the Pacific Northwest. The condition occurs when dogs eat raw fish from San Francisco to Alaska. Possible fish include salmon, trout, lamprey, sculpin, sturgeon and candlefish. The organism responsible for infection is Neorickettsia helmonthoeca. Symptoms include fever, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal discharge and weight loss. A fecal test reveals the parasite’s eggs.

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    About the Author

    Deborah Lundin has worked as a professional writer since 2005, though writing has always been a passion. She brings a background in health and fitness, veterinary care, professional cooking and parenting. She studied medical laboratory science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Sites published on include Yahoo, Physorg and MedicalXPress.

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