I conclude my preventative pet health care series with one of the most important topics, the stool analysis. One in four dogs lives with a preventable parasite. One in three cats lives with a preventable parasite. These parasites not only adversely affect your pet’s health, reduce quality and length of life, but also pose a serious threat to your human family.
Perhaps the most common worm parasite seen in dogs and cats (round worm) can reach a larval stage of development in young children that can migrate into the eyes and cause irreversible blindness, through a phenomenon known as ocular larval migrans. Hookworm, a common canine parasite, has larval stages that can migrate into human skin, most commonly through the bottom of bare feet, and cause rashes as they leave track through the deep layers of skin of infected people.
These are just a couple examples of parasites that not only have the potential to harm your pets, but also the human members of your family, yet the stool analysis is one of the most commonly owner declined aspects of the yearly wellness visit. Also, when pet owners think of parasites that we see in dogs and cats, they often just think of worm parasites, but many parasites are not worms. Giardia and coccidia, for example, are protozoal parasites.
I cannot stress the importance of regular stool analysis enough. My recommendation is to administer general deworming medication to all puppies at 3 and 5 weeks of age, then run stool analysis for the first and last puppy/kitten well visits (6 and 16 weeks, or 8 and 16 weeks; depending on which protocol a veterinarian may follow). Thereafter, a stool analysis should be run at least yearly for each pet in the home. Given the risk for young children, I advise a stool analysis done twice yearly for each pet in the home, for households that have children 5 years of age or younger.
Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne, FL, Chief Editor of the Veterinary Advice and Information Website, Web-DVM, and founder/CEO of Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care.