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Fecal examination in dogs and cats: how to decode the results [GUIDE

Stool examination

Stool examination is a valuable diagnostic tool, the results of which may affect the health of not only our pupils, but also their caregivers.

Often in veterinary offices there is a request - addressed to the owners of dogs and cats - to provide a stool sample from their pet.

It will meet with various reactions from the caregivers - from surprise, through disgust, to silent acceptance of the postulate without a trace of embarrassment.

It's not that we - doctors - are fond of this type of biological material.

Many of us really prefer to spend our time at work differently ?

Today let's take a closer look at what this valuable information can be hidden in this natural material of animal origin.

Stool examination it is mainly carried out in situations where the patient is suspected internal parasites and in veterinary medicine it is one of the key indications.

There are also some conditions where it is worth doing a stool analysis.

This includes any abnormalities found in the animal that involve:

  • diarrhea,
  • vomiting,
  • lack of appetite.

Sometimes stool testing is also recommended for symptoms coming from respiratory system.

  • What's interesting can be found in a stool sample?
  • Indications for the examination of feces
    • Parasites
    • Diarrhea
    • An infectious disease
    • Losing weight, despite your appetite
    • Pancreatic diseases
    • Damage to the mucosa of the digestive tract
  • Methods of examining feces in dogs and cats
    • Macroscopic examination of feces
    • Microscopic examination of feces
    • Bacteriological examination of a stool sample
    • Parasitological examination
    • Pap smear
    • Biochemical studies of feces
  • Method of collecting feces for research
  • Fecal parasitological examination
  • Parasites are most often detected in dogs and cats
  • Methods of parasitological research
    • Macroscopic examination of feces
    • Microscopic examination of feces
    • Direct smear of feces
    • Fecal examination with the use of mif fixer
    • Sedimentation methods
    • Flotation methods
    • Faecal examination for giardia
    • ELISA test
  • How often to test faeces for parasites?
  • Reliability of the parasitological examination
  • Fecal cytology and stool staining
  • Fecal bacteriological examination
  • Examination of feces by PCR
  • Stool test for proper digestion
    • Stool test for undigested food particles
  • Fecal occult blood test
  • The Importance of Routine Fecal Checks in Animals
    • Detection of parasitic diseases in dogs and cats
    • Protecting caregivers from parasites
    • Identification of infectious causes of diarrhea
    • Infectious disease detection
    • Monitoring of the parasiticidal treatment
    • Detection of intestinal malabsorption

What's interesting can be found in a stool sample?

Food leftovers

Of course, the basic and dominant element of the stool are food residues, which are eliminated from the body in this way.

Their amount and composition depend on the type of food eaten by the animal and the proper functioning of the digestive tract in terms of digestion and absorption.

Thus, any change in the amount of food debris in the stool that cannot be explained by the change in diet can be a valuable clue regarding a disturbance in the body's functions.


Colon (section of the large intestine) is a very important part of the digestive tract.

It is here that the "dehydration " of the feces takes place - that is, the absorption of water and the formation of the final fecal masses.

When its functioning is impaired, the reabsorption of water from the intestines is impaired and diarrhea develops.

Exfoliated epithelium

Their number and morphology can be very useful in the assessment of functioning intestines.

In the case of various disease states, the number of epithelial cells increases as a result of their increased exfoliation.

Unused enzymes and digestive juices

Passed stools normally contain some amounts of certain digestive enzymes.

This is important information that can be used in the diagnosis of certain diseases, e.g. pancreatic insufficiency.


There is some amount of mucus present in normal stool, however, an increased amount of mucus, such as sticky threads or a shiny coating, can accompany many gastrointestinal disorders, such as.:

  • liver disease,
  • diseases of the pancreas,
  • allergies,
  • parasites.

Intestinal microflora

The intestinal microflora consists of protozoa, fungi, and relatively and absolutely anaerobic bacteria.

In the digestive tract of animals there is a physiological bacterial flora, the presence of which not only enables the proper functioning of the intestines, but also ensures the health of its host.

Unfortunately, in some situations there are disturbances in the composition of the number of microorganisms (i.e. intestinal dysbiosis), which is clearly manifested by diarrhea.

Viruses, parasites and / or admixtures (blood, eaten foreign bodies, etc.).

These are abnormal constituents of the stool and their finding should always lead to the extension of diagnosis and therapy.

As you can see, animal excrements contain a whole range of components that can be helpful not only in assessing the diet or the proper functioning of the digestive system.

The detection of pathogenic fecal components can be of enormous importance in determining the correct treatment and a quick recovery of the animal.

If the veterinarian caring for your pet asks you to provide a stool sample for examination, he or she has a specific purpose for it.

Indications to be carried out stool analysis there are several, depending on the symptoms and suspected disease.

Therefore, the methods of stool examination are quite varied, and which will be applicable to your patient remains at the discretion of his doctor.

Indications for the examination of feces

Indications for the examination of feces

Unlike other routine laboratory tests, the recommendations for stool testing are not numerous, but specific:


If your dog or cat has a parasitic disease or the doctor suspects that your pet may have internal parasites, it is imperative to have a stool test done.

Such examination is recommended even when there is no such suspicion - just a control check of the faeces should be performed at least once a year if the animal is regularly used antiparasitic prophylaxis.

Even more often with unsystematic administration of anthelmintics.

The environment is significantly "contaminated" with spore forms of parasites, and our residents, staying in it and showing quite specific activity (basically with their nose on the ground), become easy prey for intruders.

Even the cleanest dog or cat is exposed to it worm or tapeworm.

Due to the fact that a lot parasitosis is dangerous to people, regular examination of feces in pets becomes more important.


If your client suffers from gastrointestinal disorders, and most of all, she has appeared with him diarrhea, one of the main tests (next to morphology and biochemistry, or imaging tests) should be stool analysis.

Faeces change its consistency in the course of various diseases and it is possible that this is not related to the digestive tract at all.

In the event of diarrhea, stool testing can be groundbreaking in the diagnosis and substantially accelerate the introduction of effective treatment.

An infectious disease

An infectious disease this is one of the indications for which stool testing may be of decisive value.

Especially young animals may develop diseases caused by a specific infectious agent (e.g. parvovirosis virus, coronavirus), which can be detected and identified fairly easily through faecal excretion.

Losing weight, despite your appetite

If the pet is losing weight (despite good appetite), it does poor-quality, dull hair, gives off a significant volume of stool, is weak and apathetic - are highly probable disorders of food absorption from the intestines.

A fecal examination should be included in the planned diagnosis.

There are some valuable tips that can be obtained this way.

For example - presence undigested food particles, low level elastase in the stool may lead the examiner to believe that the causes of the improper absorption of nutrients should not be sought in bacterial infections if parasitic invasions, or rather in digestive organ dysfunction (pancreas, liver).

Pancreatic diseases

If your dog or cat is suspected of having pancreatic disease, stool testing can be a valuable addition to diagnosis.

Damage to the mucosa of the digestive tract

In the case of diseases with damage to the gastrointestinal mucosa (e.g. inflammatory bowel diseases, tumors).

There is a chance that the test will show characteristic cells that indicate the disease or identify the causative factor.

Methods of examining feces in dogs and cats

Methods of examining feces in dogs and cats

Macroscopic examination of feces

Macroscopic examination of the stool, which includes the assessment of some of its organoleptic properties, such as:


Properly formed faeces in animals resemble a cylinder, which in cats is slightly more compact than in dogs.

A temporary change in shape may occur in healthy animals, but if it lasts longer, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian.

For example - strongly narrowed, pencil-shaped or tape-shaped stools may indicate obstacles, narrowing or pressure in the final section of the digestive tract (narrowing of the anus, pressure on the rectum by an enlarged prostate, cancerous tumors, post-inflammatory scars, etc.).


"Healthy" faeces should be relatively hard and well-formed, but not dry.

The most common change noticed by dog ​​and cat owners is presence loose stool or too diarrheal stool.

Too dry feces, in turn, may be a sign of dehydration.

Foamy feces as a rule testifies to bacterial infection, and greasy feces - intestinal malabsorption.

Always the long-term persistence of the faeces with the wrong consistency should prompt you to visit your pet at the veterinary office.

Many pet food manufacturers have developed special stool grading systems.

They can be useful in assessing whether the animal is suffering from gastrointestinal problems or systemic diseases.

The smell of feces

It is unique to every animal, but can vary depending on diet, gut flora, and even medications.

Particularly noteworthy is strongly foul-smelling yellowish faeces, which is donated in large amounts.

It testifies to Fr digestive and / or absorption disorders and could be a sign pancreatic dysfunction.

Intensely smelly feces could be the result too much fiber in the diet.

Basically - the more meat there is in the food, the more intense the stool smell.


The color of the feces is due to the presence of bile pigments.

Yellow bilirubin it is produced in the liver and excreted into the lumen of the small intestine together with bile.

The second dye is biliverdin greenish tint, and the third - stercobilin, giving the faeces a brown color.

In healthy carnivores, the color palette of feces is very wide:

from clay yellow to dark brown and largely depends on the composition of the food.

Any abnormal stool color should be consulted with a veterinarian.

Yellow or Gray the color of the stools may indicate diseases with a disturbed bile secretion, e.g.:

  • severe liver damage,
  • pancreatic diseases,
  • gallbladder disease.

Occasionally, in dogs consuming significant amounts bones or too supplemented with calcium compounds feces take color gray and white, is dry and it crumbles.

Greenish feces testifies to too fast passage of food through the intestines (with intestinal infections, diarrhea, food allergies, absorption disorders, etc.) or it may be the result eat a lot of plants or herbs (in carnivores, this is a rare cause).

Sometimes as a result of giving some antibiotics or laxatives, your stools may be just this color.

Black or tarry color of faeces testifies to presence blood, which has already been digested and is a sign bleeding in the digestive tract (at the level of the stomach, small intestine or the initial sections of the large intestine).

In such a situation, it is necessary to extend the diagnosis (it is recommended to perform a morphological and biochemical blood test, endoscopy, ultrasound, etc.).

There is no need to worry if the black or dark brown color of the stool appears after the animal has consumed a significant amount of red meat or as a result of the administration of certain medications (iron-containing preparations or the administration of activated charcoal).

However, it is always worth consulting this symptom with your doctor.

Red feces color means the presence of fresh blood (or earlier consumption of beetroot ?).

Fresh blood in the stool is often accompanied parasitic colitis, bacterial (infection caused by anaerobic bacteria), in the course of giardiasis, it may also appear during chemotherapy (as a result of an action cytotoxic drugs).

Unnaturally bright, yellow feces most often accompanies pancreatic insufficiency, it may also appear as a result impaired bile secretion or parasite invasions.

Presence of food debris

The presence of food debris is another feature of faeces assessed during macroscopic examination.

An increased amount of undigested particles may indicate digestive disorders and its detection is always an indication for microscopic examination of stools.

Incorrect admixtures

Incorrect admixtures are e.g. parasites visible to the naked eye.

In the stool of animals, you can find a real wealth of certain little things that should not be in it.

It can be pieces of plastic, pieces of toys, threads, gravel, hair, bones, foil, sticks and much more.

In a situation where an animal has vomiting or diarrhea, these elements are important clues in investigating the cause of gastrointestinal disturbances.

It also happens that with a large parasitic invasion adult roundworms or members of tapeworms are visible in the faeces.

This does not release us from the obligation to carry out a parasitological examination of the faeces, because it is possible that there are more types of parasites in the digestive tract, and what we saw with the naked eye is only a timid announcement of them.

Microscopic examination of feces

Microscopic examination of the stool in which the presence of undigested food elements is examined.

It is also referred to as digestibility tests, and with its help it is most often detected:

  • fat;
  • muscle fibers;
  • starch grains.

Bacteriological examination of a stool sample

Bacteriological examination of a stool sample, in which the etiological factor causing the infection of the gastrointestinal tract is detected and identified.

Parasitological examination

Parasitological examination, where eggs, oocysts, larvae or adult internal parasites of the gastrointestinal tract are looked for.

They can be:

  • nematodes,
  • tapeworms,
  • protozoa.

Pap smear

A Pap smear where individual cellular elements in a stool sample are examined under a microscope.

Biochemical studies of feces

  1. Occult blood test - hidden bleeding is found in the digestive tract.
  2. Pancreatic elastase test - this analysis is carried out in situations where the absorption of nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract is disturbed.

Method of collecting feces for research

Method of collecting feces for research

Depending on the purpose of the study, the method of collecting the material also differs.

In most cases, it is enough to collect some droppings just after they are "produced" by the animal.

Occasionally, however, it may be necessary to see a doctor, especially if the sample is intended for testing with more advanced techniques.

The doctor will then take the stool directly from the patient's rectum.

This is uncomfortable for the pet, but fortunately a very quick way.

Below are some tips on how to collect a stool sample for testing yourself.

Before downloading the material, always consult your doctor regarding his expectations.

Determine the details, how to pick the material, how to store it, etc.

One of the more important issues to establish is administering medications to the animal prior to sampling for testing.

Try not to give your pet any medications and do not change his diet for at least a few days before obtaining the sample.

However, if the dog or cat is already taking some specificity, check with your doctor whether they will affect the test result.

You may need to stop taking your medication for a few days.

In the case of collecting feces from a bitch into liquids, there is a risk of adulteration of the stool sample (as a result of its contamination with blood or mucus).

If the purpose of the test is to identify occult blood, it is recommended that you do this Three days before collecting the material for testing, do not give the animal meat or food based on meat (this is to minimize false results).

In turn, in the case of the study on the level of elastase in the stool it is recommended that a weight-bearing diet - the animal should receive meals composed of meat products.

Get a suitable container.

Most veterinary clinics offer special containers for stool examination, and you can also purchase one at the pharmacy.

As a last resort, you can use a plastic packaging (clean, without any residues) of tablets or even a regular foil bag or zip-up bag.

But be careful - in the case of feces with a soft consistency, the tightness of the latter may not be sufficient.

On such a container, it is worth to put your own data, your pet's data and the date of collection of the material in advance.

It is best if the sample provided for testing is as recent as possible.

Despite the fact that the eggs of parasites actually have an amazing ability to survive in the environment (hence the problem with constant, recurrent invasions), the feces from a few days ago may not be the best material in terms of diagnostics.

Faeces lying somewhere on the grass may become contaminated with parasite eggs already residing in the environment, so testing such material may result in false-positive results.

In addition, feces (especially cat feces) dry very quickly, which can make testing difficult.

Eggs and larvae of some types of parasites, as well as cysts and protozoa, can significantly change their morphology during prolonged stay in the environment, which may make them unrecognizable under the microscope.

So it's best if you take a sample immediately after your pet defecates.

Such fresh samples (collected up to 24 hours) provide the most accurate results.

In the event that the feces are to be examined for detection trophozoites protozoa Giardia sp. or Tritrichomonas, the sample should be tested within 30 minutes from download.

Store your stool sample properly.

Feces sealed in a signed container can be stored in a refrigerator at 4-8 ° C or - on cooler days - outside.

It is important that you do not expose it to light or heat.

Also, do not put the container in the freezer.

Too high or too low a temperature will make the sample undiagnostic.

If an animal is to be tested for digestibility, it is absolutely unacceptable to refrigerate the sample.

Such feces should be immediately delivered to the clinic.

Sample volume.

You do not need to submit all the animal's faeces for testing.

Ideally, you should discuss with your doctor in advance how much sample volume you will need, but in most cases it will suffice a few cubic cm (usually approx. 3 cc).

As a rule, a sample of the size of two large grapes (sugar cubes, if you prefer ?) is completely sufficient.

It's best if you can download it from the last section of formed feces (where the stool is thinnest).

It has been proven that this is where the greatest number of parasite eggs is found.

In case you see impurities in the stool, such as. blood, pus, mucus or other pathological material, they should first of all be in the container.

Taking a part of the formed feces, containing mainly food debris and the associated bacterial flora, while omitting such important "additions " is a mistake.

Number of samples.

In order to determine if an animal has internal parasites, it may not be sufficient to test a stool sample once.

This is because some "worms " are not present in the stool all the time, but appear periodically in it.

This irregularity is due to the life cycle of internal parasites.

Therefore, a positive result of one sample is always confirmatory, while a negative result does not necessarily mean a real absence of parasites.

It could happen that the faeces for examination were collected at the wrong time.

Hence, stool parasitological examination should be performed at least 3 times, from samples taken at intervals of approx. 2-5 days.

Such randomly collected material greatly increases the probability of finding parasites.

In turn, the material intended for bacteriological research should be downloaded by 3 consecutive days in a row - this is to increase the detection of the etiological factor.

Remember to always use for this purpose when taking the sample gloves, and wash your hands thoroughly after finishing the procedure.

You don't know if your pet is actually hosting stowaways.

It will turn out only after checking this material.

Fecal parasitological examination

Fecal parasitological examination

This test allows you to confirm or rule out the presence of internal parasites, including:

  • roundworms,
  • hookworms,
  • whipworm,
  • coccidia.

These tiny creatures can stay in your pet's digestive tract, and their extremely sophisticated adaptations to a parasitic lifestyle make it possible for them in a brilliant way.

Unlike ectoparasites such as fleas and ticks, most endoparasites it is never visible, and the symptoms related to their colonization are often too little intense to cast even a shadow of suspicion on these malicious worms.

And there is something to be afraid of

Apart from the fact that internal parasites harm the host itself, they still pose a great risk to people who come into direct contact with the animal.

And even if the quadrupeds are very well cared for and live in a clean environment, they can nevertheless have contact (direct or indirect) with other animals that already have intruders inside their bodies.

Our pupils exhibit normal behaviors, such as drinking from a puddle, licking, biting, or eating various objects from the ground.

This is what makes them exposed to infection throughout the year.

Dogs and cats can also become infected hunting - rodents, for example, are a source of many parasites.

Fleas in turn they carry tapeworm eggs.

All these factors mean that our pets can potentially come into contact with parasites every day.

Unfortunately, anthelmintic products do not guarantee that your pet will be parasite-free.

Most of the measures used in animals only work on the adult forms of pests that live in the intestines.

The larvae that reside in the organs return to the digestive tract to complete the sexual cycle and produce another batch of eggs to infect other animals.

Eggs and cysts may not be sensitive to the anthelmintics used.

By giving the animal a pill, we have the illusion that we have properly treated our dog and cat, while the next day it may become infected again.

No wonder that the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to find out if your fur is not a carrier of a happy bunch of worms is to do a stool test.

It is the most commonly used material for parasitological research, because it is through the gastrointestinal tract that the most eggs, larvae, oocysts and cysts of parasites are excreted.

Parasites are most often detected in dogs and cats

Canine tapeworm


  • Giardia (Lamblia) intestinalis (duodenalis) - dog, cat.
    • Detection of cysts possible after direct smearing of a stool sample stained with Lugol's solution or with the use of enzyme immunoassay.
  • Cystoisospora canis - dog, Cystoisospora felis - cat.
    • Coccidial oocysts are detected by fecal flotation testing.
  • Tritrichomonas foetus - cat.
    • Detected in direct smear of faeces, using the PCR method or stool culture on special media.
  • Toxoplasma gondii - cat.
    • In a fecal flotation study, oocysts are detected.
    • ELISA enzyme immunoassay.


  • Alaria alata - the dog.
    • Eggs detected by decanting method
  • Opistorchis felineus - cat.
    • Egg detection using the decanting method.


  • Toxocara canis - dog, Toxocara cati - cat.
    • Most often, eggs are detected using the flotation method, decanting is also used.
  • Toxascaris leonina - dog, cat.
    • Eggs detected by flotation and decantation of a stool sample.


  • Ancylostoma caninum - dog.
    • Egg detection in the flotation method.
  • Uncinaria stenocephala - the dog.
    • Flotation detection of eggs.


  • Trichuris vulpis - the dog.
    • Faecal flotation.

Pulmonary nematodes

  • Angiostrongylus vasorum.
    • Detection of larvae using the Baerman method.


  • Taenia sp. - Dog Cat.
    • Egg detection by flotation, decantation.
  • Dipylidium caninum - dog, cat.
    • Eggs detected by flotation, whole members or packets with eggs are detected in the decantation method.
  • Mesocestoides lineatus - the dog.
    • Detection of eggs by ELISA, PCR methods.
  • Echinococcus multilocularis - dog.
    • Faecal flotation test, but a little specific method (eggs very similar to those of Taenia sp.).
    • ELISA test, PCR method.
  • Diphyllobotrium latum - dog, cat
    • In the flotation test, eggs were detected, in the decanting method.

If any of these parasites are found in the test, they will be ordered deworming treatment, demanding even repeating several times.

Faecal examination is usually performed in a veterinary office, but sometimes it is necessary to send the material to a reference laboratory for specialist analysis.

Methods of parasitological research

Macroscopic examination of feces

In this study, we evaluate:

  • stool consistency:
    • watery,
    • loose,
    • formed,
  • the presence of mucus,
  • the presence of blood,
  • the presence of parasites or their fragments.

In the material provided for testing, the sample is examined for adult parasites.

The method consists in thoroughly mixing the stool sample with water, and after the solid elements fall to the bottom, pour the liquid over them.

Sometimes this "rinsing" is carried out several times.

In a settlement prepared in this way, parasites are searched for.

It happens that worms such as nematodes (e.g. roundworms) and certain tapeworms or their members.

Microscopic examination of feces

They belong to the group of microscopic examination of feces coproscopic methods, which make it possible to visualize the various forms of development of parasites:

starting with eggs, oocysts, cysts or larvae.

Depending on this, it stands out ovocoscopic methods (mostly used in small animal veterinary medicine) and larvoccopy.

Direct smear of feces

This method involves smearing a small stool sample on a microscope slide and examining it under a microscope.

Simple technique, but with limited application.

It can be used when we have a small amount of stool.

The examination of fresh specimens enables the visualization of live, mobile trophozoites of protozoa (e.g. Giardia).

In doubtful situations, such a smear can be tinted.

Finding evidence of parasites in a normal smear indicates a large infestation.

A modification of this type of research is Kato and Miura method.

It allows the use of a much larger stool sample than the one mentioned above.

Often used in humans, but in animals it allows the visualization of Sarcosystis or Cystoisospora oocysts.

Fecal examination with the use of mif fixer

Rarely used in veterinary medicine, it can be used to detect protozoan cysts that are becoming stained.

Sedimentation methods

These techniques make use of a feature of the eggs of some parasites.

Well, using the right solutions - heavy flukemia or tapeworm eggs sink to the bottom much faster than most contaminants.

Among the many sedimentation methods, it is primarily used in veterinary medicine decanting method.

It makes detection possible fluke eggs and sometimes tapeworm members with eggs.

Flotation methods

Unlike the previous ones, they use the phenomenon of oocyst solution, cysts or parasite eggs floating on the surface.

In this case, the faeces are mixed with a solution of high specific gravity (e.g. with a saturated solution of table salt or sugar).

Sometimes a stool sample mixed with a solution is centrifuged before the flotation test (to "thicken" it even more, and thus increase the probability of detecting eggs, cysts or oocysts).

These light forms of parasites stick to the coverslip which is then viewed under a microscope.

Parasites are identified by the size, shape and characteristic properties found in a sample of eggs, larvae or cysts.

It is a method characterized by quite high efficiency in detecting the infestation of gastrointestinal parasites, including protozoa and nematodes.

The eggs of most tapeworms are usually located in the limbs, hence it is difficult to visualize them with the fecal flotation test.

Currently, in office conditions, it is possible to perform this test thanks to special kits, such as. fecalyzer, ovassay, ovatector.

By means of flotation methods it is possible to detect Toxoplasma gondii oocysts.

They are parasites whose ultimate host is cats; due to the fact that toxoplasmosis is a dangerous zoonosis, it is extremely important to detect and combat it in animals.

The flotation method in this case has its limitations - oocyst excretion does not take place continuously, hence it is easy to get false negative results.

Therefore, the detection of anti-T antibodies remains the test of choice for detecting Toxoplasma gondii. gondii in the blood with immunofluorescence reaction.

Examination of feces for the presence of giardia

Giardia (lamblia) is a protozoan, causing one of the most common species in dogs and cats (especially young!) parasitic disease.

It affects the digestive tract, and one of the main symptoms is diarrhea.

The feature of this protozoan is that it may not be detected with the use of microscopic examination, therefore - when a lamblia infestation is suspected - more detailed stool examinations are performed (e.g. ELISA).

ELISA test

Is it enzyme immunoassay, Immune Response Detector, Used to Diagnose Giardia.

There is some difficulty in diagnosing giardiosis through microscopic examination, and since this examination is quite sensitive - it is recommended as one of the basic parasitological studies.

As you can see, the spectrum of available methods of parasitological examination is quite wide.

Not all procedures are created equal, therefore careful selection of materials and test methods is required.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all test that can detect all intestinal parasites.

The simplest of them is fecal flotation test, however, for some parasites it may not be sufficient to rule out or confirm an infestation.

For example - if you suspect infection with parasites such as Toxoplasma, Giardia or Tritrichomonas, you may need to perform specialized tests, including blood tests.

The skilled eye of the examiner is equally important.

It happens that despite the presence of parasites in the animal, they are not detected during the stool examination.

The reasons for this can be various - ranging from human error, to inappropriate timing of sampling, to invasion insufficiently severe to be detectable by routine laboratory tests.

No wonder then that stool testing should be carried out at least 1-2 times a year even more frequently in animals before the age of one year.

How often to test faeces for parasites?

How often to test faeces for parasites?

There is no single answer to this question.

The recommended frequency of stool examination is influenced by many variables, including:

The age of the animal.

From puppies and kittens, it is best to bring a sample for testing every 2-3 weeks until they finish 16-20 weeks of age.

This is associated with the high probability of infestation in young animals.

Adult animals should be tested at least once a year, however, there are times when tests are recommended more often depending on the presence of predisposing factors.

Recent adoption.

Adopting a pet from a shelter, or even on the street, requires checking if it is not a parasite carrier.

We do not know the conditions in which he stayed, what animals he came into contact with, what he ate, etc.

Therefore, the animal should be examined first, including tests for the presence of internal parasites.

The degree of exposure to invasion.

Frequent walks in places with a lot of dogs greatly increase the risk of catching worms.

They can be parks, squares, housing estate lawns (yes, parasite eggs can also be found in these places).

Unfortunately, the risk of infection is enormous, not only for animals, but also for children playing there.

And here comes such an important problem of cleaning up after your pet.

Cleaning up your dog's droppings essentially reduces the spread of internal parasites, reducing the risk of contamination.

Not to mention the issues of aesthetics and cleanliness.

The frequency of administration of anthelmintics.

In most cases, the owners are aware of the risk of worming and regularly administer anthelmintics.

Thanks to such activities, it was possible to significantly reduce the incidence of parasitic infestations in domestic animals.

However, we must remember that deworming pills are not indifferent to the body.

Use them wisely and, if possible - limit the frequency of their use.

A great alternative is the stool test - in a situation where the result turns out to be negative, you will not need to burden the animal with the drug. Your dog's or cat's liver will be very grateful to you.


The participation of dogs in hunting poses a risk of transmission of parasites from wildlife.

Cats catching rodents are also more likely to be infected.

Therefore, after each situation in which the pet may be realistically exposed to contact with the host, the feces should be examined and prepared for the need to administer a deworming agent.

Presence of external parasites.

Both dog and cat fleas are intermediate hosts for the tapeworm Dyphylidium caninum.

Infestation poses a high risk of infection with this dangerous parasite.

Unfortunately, many pet owners still disregard the fact of flea in their pets, not being aware that they are not only worms jumping on the skin.

It is also a huge danger that faces not only the owner of the flea company, but also its keepers.

Follow-up examinations after treatment.

In a situation where a parasitic infestation has been found in your pet, always - after administering anthelmintics - their effectiveness should be checked.

A patient can be considered parasite free if 2 negative test results in a row are found 1 month apart.

Health problems

Presence of other health problems, especially diseases accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, anemia or weight loss.

Internal parasites work on several levels:

  1. By mechanical action.
    As a result of the presence of adult forms of endoparasites in the lumen of the gastrointestinal tract, its obstruction may occur. It happens with massive infestations of large parasites, such as nematodes or tapeworms.
    Nematodes occurring in the kidneys - Dictiophyma renale, living in the renal pelvis, cause pressure and lead to tissue degeneration.
    In turn, many parasites that live in the intestine damage its mucosa. It happens as a result of the action of their adherent organs, by means of which they attach to the host (probably the most typical representative of this group of pests is tapeworm).
    Other developmental forms of parasites also have a destructive effect. The larval forms often cause more damage. During their journey through the body, they damage various tissues and organs, leading to their dysfunction. Usually they are most affected liver and lungs (in the case of invasion of roundworms). Echinococcus granulosus larvae developing in the liver damage the liver parenchyma.
  2. Eating.
    The infected animal must "share" its meals with stowaways. Parasites eat their host and although these are not large amounts, it is very dangerous that they deprive it of certain nutrients. It's mainly about vitamins and amino acids, the deficiencies of which in the animal lead to serious metabolic disorders.
    And so, e.g. many nematodes shows high demand for vitamin C, leading to its host deficiency.
    In turn, the tapeworms Dipyllobothrium latum devour the host from vitamin B12, which in turn disrupts the process of red blood cell formation and, as a consequence, anemia.
  3. Chemical action.
    This is a very wide range of effects on the host's tissues and organs. Parasites produce metabolites that cause disorders of the circulatory, nervous, digestive and immune systems. Unfortunately, this is not the end of their pathogenic effects. Many of these metabolism products additionally have an allergenic effect on the host, which is manifested in the pet by strong symptoms of hypersensitivity.

As you can see, the frequency of faecal examination in animals should always be determined individually, with regard to the lifestyle, history of deworming and the clinical condition of the patient.

Considering the fact that this is a completely non-invasive, stress-free and inexpensive test, it is worth checking your pet's feces even more often than indicated in the prevention calendar.

Reliability of the parasitological examination

Like any other laboratory method, stool testing can abound false results.

It is not always possible to confirm the presence of parasites, and much depends on the following factors:

Sample size.

As mentioned before, a representative amount of stool for testing is about 3-5 grams.

Eggs or other developmental forms of internal parasites do not need to be evenly distributed in the faeces.

To increase the chance of finding them, the stool sample provided for testing should be of a sufficient size.

Handling the sample.

The most optimal way is to take the material directly from the animal's handpiece.

However, in home conditions, it is sufficient for the owner to collect feces immediately after defecation.

If the feces are on the ground for too long, it can contain numerous saprobiontic nematodes, arthropods, their larvae and eggs, which may make identification difficult.

Freezing or drying the stool sample is unacceptable.

Age of the sample.

Fresh stool samples are required for parasitological examination.

This is because:

stool examination should be performed as soon as possible after collection in order to prevent the development of the parasites contained in it.

Choosing a stool test procedure.

This will largely depend on which parasites are suspected.

Routine stool examinations are usually performed using the so-called. flotation methods.

They use saturated salt or sugar solutions, in which the eggs of most parasites float to the surface.

This is because most of them have a lower weight than the solution.

However, this particular technique is not always recommended.

In a situation where we suspect the presence of protozoa or - sometimes - tapeworms, we will choose the decanting method. Sometimes a PCR or ELISA test is also useful.

Everything depends on the suspected parasite.

Experience of the research staff.

It has to be honestly admitted that well-trained staff in the field of testing and recognizing parasites cannot be overestimated.

They do happen very often artifacts and they can pose a real problem to the examiner with the correct diagnosis.

It is very easy to overinterpret the structures seen under the microscope.

And vice versa - unreliable and quick "review " of the preparation may result in the omission or incorrect identification of parasite eggs.

The use of auxiliary techniques in diagnostics - ELISA or PCR test.

These tests generally increase the likelihood of detecting parasites.

Fecal cytology and stool staining

Special microbial staining can detect abnormalities yeast cells and bacterial in the tested sample.

If they are detected in the test material, appropriate treatment will be administered.

Fecal cytological examination it is always recommended in cases of:

  • unexplained diarrhea,
  • feces with mucus,
  • the presence of blood in the stool,
  • urge faeces a lot.

Of course, other diagnostic tests should be performed first, such as:

  • stool parasitological examination,
  • test towards Giardia sp.,
  • test for parvovirosis,
  • panleukopenia test.
Pap smear is a complementary test, but it cannot be omitted from the diagnosis.

The best way to get a Pap smear sample is to smear directly from your pet's rectum.

In this way, we get not only a bit of stool, but thanks to the skilful collection of the material, we also collect material directly from the mucosa of the rectum for the swab.

Such a sample is then smeared on a slide (or imprinted on it), stained in special dyes and viewed under a microscope.

Under physiological conditions, the cytological examination shows:

  • bacteria (mixed population of sticks and cocci),
  • a certain amount of mucus,
  • single epithelial cells or their conglomerates,
  • amorphous (amorphous) cellular debris.

When inflammation occurs, affecting the posterior digestive tract, pap smear is a very useful tool because it can detect many pathogens, including:

  • bacteria (Clostridium perfringens, Campyobacter jejuni, Salmonella, E. Coli);
  • algae (Ptototheca spp.);
  • fungi (Histoplasma capsulatum, Cryptococcus neoformans);
  • protozoa (Balantidium coli, Giardia lamblia);
  • nematodes (whipworm).

Fecal cytological examination allows not only to detect etiological factors, but also allows the identification of inflammatory cells, e.g.:

  • lymphocytes,
  • plasmocytes,
  • mast cells,
  • neutrophils.

The presence of multiple epithelial cells may be a sign colitis.

An increase in the number of leukocytes in the preparation may indicate inflammatory colitis.

Numerous eosinophils point to allergic processes rolling in the intestines.

The presence of red blood cells indicates bleeding.

This test can also be performed in a veterinary office or by qualified personnel from the reference laboratory.

Fecal bacteriological examination

The bacterial flora of the digestive tract of dogs and cats is very diverse.

The microflora inhabiting the large intestine shows the greatest abundance, species diversity and activity.

It even lives in the colon 1012 colony forming units / gram of faeces.

Here, absolute and relative anaerobes of the genus Bacteroides, Eubacterium, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Clostridium prevail.

Bacteria "beneficial " and those potentially harmful in a healthy animal are in a relative balance, thanks to which it is possible to achieve homeostasis.

The gastrointestinal microflora provides such important functions for the body as:

Participation in digestion and absorption of various nutrients.

Known from TV commercials, lactic acid bacteria are necessary for the fermentation of complex carbohydrates that cannot be digested in the form in which they were consumed.

Not only that, this process produces short-chain fatty acids (m.in. lactic, butyric, acetic, propionic), all of great importance for pre-digestion of protein.

Plus more they lower the pH of the intestinal contents and represent energy material for the cells of the intestine.

They take part in the processing of compounds containing nitrogen and fats, in urea hydrolysis and also in cholesterol metabolism and bile salts.

Lactic acid bacteria are involved in synthesis of the B vitamin (niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, folic acid), they also have the ability to produce some digestive enzymes.

They stimulate the immune system.

As a result of bacterial cell walls that break down under the influence of hydrochloric acid and bile acids, they stimulate the humoral and cellular response of the immune system.

It comes to activation of T lymphocytes, macrophages and an increase in the amount of antibodies (mainly immunoglobulins A and G).

They prevent the colonization of the gastrointestinal tract by pathogenic bacteria, and thus prevent their development and protect against infections.

This protective action takes place on several "levels":

  • thanks to their acidifying effect on the environment, they inhibit the multiplication of pathogenic bacteria, which also reduces the amount of toxins secreted by them;
  • by competing with pathogenic bacteria for nutrients and cell receptors, they act competitively;
  • produce bacteriostatic substances such as bacteriocins and hydrogen peroxide.

They are involved in the regulation of intestinal development.

They are the source polyamines, playing a role in the growth and differentiation of cells, reducing the permeability of the intestinal mucosa and increasing its regeneration.

They protect against the development of neoplastic processes.

They inhibit the activity of enzymes involved in the formation of carcinogens, and by stimulating intestinal motility, they shorten the contact time of carcinogens with the mucosa.

In addition, they increase the absorption of minerals (calcium and magnesium), are responsible for the production of vitamins (biotin, vitamin K), and are involved in the production of hormones.

It is said that the most common cause of gastrointestinal dysbiosis is antibiotic therapy.

Of course, this is one of the main causes of disturbances in the intestinal microflora, but not the only one.

The disturbance of the bacterial flora may occur as a result of:

  • eating mistakes,
  • stress,
  • diseases,
  • the use of said antibiotics,
  • supply of drugs that change intestinal pH,
  • Elderly.

As a result of a violation of the existing balance, pathogenic flora multiplies and symptoms of the disease appear.

If a bacterial infection is suspected, e.g. caused by Salmonella sp. or Campylobacter sp. your veterinarian may order a bacteriological examination of the stool.

This test is rarely performed in dogs and cats unless an infectious disease is suspected or the results of other tests such as. endoscopy or biopsy have no diagnostic value.

In the bacteriological examination of feces, the following microorganisms are most often identified:

  • Clostridium perfringens.
    The culture test for Clostridium is a quantitative assessment, without species differentiation.
    Increasing the number of bacilli of this bacterium in dogs and cats indicates disorders in the intestinal microflora.
    In turn, using the ELISA test, it is possible to detect enterotoxin Clostridium perfringens, which is sometimes the cause of diarrhea in dogs and cats.
  • Clostridium difficile,
  • Salmonella sp.,
  • Thermophilic species of the genus Campylobacter (C. jejuni, C. coli),
  • Yersinia enterocolitica,
  • Various Enterobacteriaceae, e.g.:
    • Klebsiella sp.,
  • Enterohaemorrhagic Escherich coli strains,
  • Proteus sp.,
  • Coagulase positive staphylococci (Staphylococcus aureus, S. intermedius),
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa,
  • yeasts (e.g. Candida).

If any pathogen is detected in the bacteriological test, the culture is positive.

The waiting time for the result is usually 3-5 days.

As a rule, based on the identified pathogen, it is determined antibiotic pattern (i.e. a list of the different types of antibiotics to which bacteria are sensitive and / or resistant) or mycogram (if pathogenic yeasts are detected).

However, it should be remembered that most laboratories determine the most common pathogens in dogs and cats, therefore a negative culture does not have to completely exclude a bacterial or fungal background smoldering disease in the animal.

It happens that the cause of gastrointestinal disturbances is some type of rare bacteria (or fungus).

Examination of feces by PCR

It is a special technique that detects the DNA of specific pathogens that are the cause of, among others. in vomiting and diarrhea.

Most often it is used to detect E. Coli, Campylobacter sp, Clostridium sp., and Salmonella.

In the case of parasites, it can be Cryptosporidium (in dogs) and Tritrichomonas (in cats), as well as Giardia.

This technique is also useful for detecting viral infections such as. parvovirus and coronavirus.

PCR testing can detect feline enteric coronavirus (FeCoV), but cannot confirm FIP (feline infectious peritonitis).

A positive test result only indicates that you have or have been infected with this virus.

Primarily a method of detecting virus shedders, however, as shedding may occur intermittently, false-negative results may occur.

In case of doubt, the test should be repeated.

Canine Enteric Coronavirus (CECoV) Detection.

The material to be examined is stool or rectal swab - it is one of the etiological factors of diarrhea in dogs.

The disease caused by the coronavirus is manifested mainly by disorders of the stomach and intestines.

The material for testing should be collected in the first days of the disease, because with time the amount of virus in the faeces decreases, and from 15.the day after infection, it is no longer possible to identify infectious particles with this method.

Canine distemper virus.

Canine distemper virus (Canine distemper virus CDV) can also be detected using the PCR technique.

In the presence of diarrhea accompanying this disease, the material for examination may be a swab from the rectum.

Due to the availability of other, more sensitive and more precise methods and materials for testing - identification of distemper virus by PCR using a rectal swab is rarely used.

Detection of canine parvovirus / feline panleucopenia virus.

The etiological factors of these 2 diseases in dogs and cats are very closely related.

In these animals, it is possible to detect parvovirus directly in the faeces by means of the PCR technique.

The excretion of the germ begins 3-4 days after infection and lasts approx 7-10 days (sometimes longer).

In dogs, it is also possible to differentiate the vaccine virus CPV 2 and field strain CPV 2a / CPV 2b.

This is diagnostically important as the vaccine virus may be excreted in the faeces for 2-12 days after vaccination.

However, a negative PCR result does not exclude infection.

It is also great for the detection of canine parvovirus enzyme immunoassay.

This is a highly specific test, but may also produce false negative results.

This happens e.g. during the first 24-48 hours after infection, when the virus is not yet excreted by the animal.

In such a situation, the test is best repeated after 2-3 days in a dog suspected of having parvovirosis.

Detection of the protozoan Tritrichomonas foetus.

In cats, this parasite lives in the digestive tract.

Young animals are often infected (up to 1 year of age), especially from shelters.

Common symptoms include chronic diarrhea with blood and mucus, but with a relatively good general condition of the pet.

Down stool tests for the presence of Tritrichomonas foetus by PCR, a sample weighing approx. 1 g.

Detection of Clostridium perfringens.

Stool examination for the presence of the gene for enterotoxin A.

Detection of DNA of Helicobacter sp.

These bacteria can colonize the gastric mucosa of dogs and give symptoms of gastroenteritis (chronic vomiting, diarrhea).

They can also occur in completely healthy animals.

The test material is a stomach biopsy or faeces.

Detection of Cryptosporidium spp.

These are parasites that in kittens (less frequently in puppies) cause symptoms of diarrhea (foamy and foul-smelling), accompanied by vomiting, abdominal pain, sometimes also increased body temperature.

In adult animals, invasion is subclinical.

Rotavirus antigen detection.

Rotaviruses are found in almost all animal species.

They show great affinity for the intestinal epithelium, leading to its damage.

This is clinically manifested as watery diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration, especially in young animals.

It is possible to detect viruses in a stool sample by immunochromatography or by PCR.

Stool test for proper digestion

In disorders of digestion and absorption can be done analysis of the composition of the feces.

There are several tests to help determine your body's ability to digest nutrients.

Their results primarily indicate pancreatic function (because it is most often the deficiency of enzymes produced by this organ that results in impaired digestion) and liver.

Currently, however stool tests have been replaced by more sensitive and accurate tests using materials other than faeces (blood serum).

In principle, several types of tests can be mentioned for suspected digestive disorders.

Stool test for undigested food particles

Fat test.

The test consists in mixing a stool clump with a specially prepared solution containing Sudan III dye.

A small amount of this suspension is applied to a glass slide and viewed under a microscope.

The presence of orange or red beads indicates a deficiency pancreatic lipase.

This test examines whether the fat absorbed by the animal has been digested or whether it is in its original form in the faeces.

A positive result of this test indicates a high probability of pancreatic exocrine insufficiency.

It can also be a symptom of a deficiency of bile acids or digestive enzymes.

Testing for the presence of starch.

There is usually no starch in the stool.

Its incomplete distribution proves dysfunction in the small intestine and associated accelerated evacuation of food.

The test is quite important in animals suffering from celiac disease (yes, celiac disease also affects animals).

Testing for the presence of muscle fibers.

Muscle fibers under the microscope are slightly yellow in color, and the presence of striation indicates trypsin deficiency - protein digesting enzyme.

The presence of striated muscle fibers may indicate:

  • pancreatic insufficiency,
  • malabsorption,
  • accelerated peristaltic,
  • peritoneal disease.

Film test, i.e. stool test for proteolytic activity (the content of trypsin in the stool).

It is also a qualitative test for pancreatic exocrine insufficiency.

Currently, this method is being abandoned because it is much easier and more sensitive TLI test from blood serum.

Determination of pancreatic elastase in the stool.

Elastase is an enzyme that is produced in the pancreas and released into the lumen of the intestine along with pancreatic juice.

It is responsible for the breakdown of proteins into smaller particles - peptides.

The correct amount of this enzyme proves the smooth functioning of the pancreas.

Due to the fact that elastase is not digested in the gastrointestinal tract, its amount in the stool closely corresponds to the amount released by the pancreas.

The normal values ​​of this enzyme in the stool are in the range from 10 to 40 µg / g feces.

The lowered concentration of elastase proves inflammation or pancreatic insufficiency, leading to impaired intestinal absorption.

Fecal occult blood test

The appearance of blood in the stool should always prompt the owner to be extremely vigilant and the veterinarian to conduct diagnostic tests.

It is not a problem if you can see red particles in your stool and you can react relatively quickly.

Worse if your pet has been suffering from diarrhea, weight loss, defecation problems, or other gastrointestinal disturbances for some time and most of the potential causes have already been ruled out.

Then what?

I propose to do fecal occult blood test.

This test is useful in situations where there is a risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, but it is so small that it does not cause noticeable macroscopic changes in the stool.

Fecal occult blood test is performed in case of suspicion:

  • inflammation of the intestines,
  • gastrointestinal ulcers,
  • the presence of parasites,
  • the occurrence of unexplained background anemia.

In carnivores, this test produces a fairly large number of false-positive results due to the consumption of meat.

False positive results may also occur after administration of certain drugs, e.g. cimetidine or oral preparations containing iron.

Some vegetables may also interfere with the test result.

So if an animal needs to be tested, it should be refrained from giving meat for 3-4 days before sampling.

The patient should also not receive medications containing iron, magnesium, bromine, vitamin C if aspirin, because they can cause a positive result (even in the absence of real bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract).

However, because the blood is not always evenly distributed throughout the stool sample, or it may appear periodically, you may need to repeat the test.

As a rule, to fecal occult blood tests a stool sample is taken for 3 consecutive days.

The test is performed with chromatographic methods and each positive result should prompt further diagnosis and search for the cause of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.

The Importance of Routine Fecal Checks in Animals

The Importance of Routine Fecal Checks in Animals

Detection of parasitic diseases in dogs and cats

Routine stool examinations Unfortunately, they are still one of the less appreciated research used in veterinary medicine.

Many animals have never had a parasitological analysis done while they are given anthelmintics with amazing regularity.

Sometimes, however, instead of stuffing your pet with another dose of a strong - anyway - medicine, it is better to check if there is such a need at all.

It also happens that the animal takes measures for parasites that do not affect the species currently residing in its digestive tract.

Protecting caregivers from parasites

Besides the obvious negative effects on the infected animal itself, endoparasites also pose a threat to humans.

Cutaneous migratory larvae hookworms they can cause unpleasant skin diseases, the larval stages of roundworms, in turn, can migrate through the liver, lungs, eyes, causing damage to these organs and even blindness.

Routine, control tests of feces should be carried out at least once every 6-12 months precisely to protect pets and their owners against parasitic infestations.

Another important issue is the epizootiological situation - the doctor working in a given area should update his knowledge about the types of parasites present in his district and monitor the statistics.

Identification of infectious causes of diarrhea

Suspicion of an infectious background of diarrhea in animals should be supported by a stool test.

In the majority of cases, bacterial infections are caused by the most common pathogens.

However, for the development of the optimal treatment, it is recommended to establish the etiological factor.

Infectious disease detection

This is important not only for a specific dog or cat suspected of being contagious, but also for other animals that come into direct or indirect contact with it.

Infectious agents are spreading rapidly in the environment and the sooner we detect a disease, the faster (and easier) it will be to control it.

This is especially important in places where more animals are housed (hotels, shelters, farms, etc.).

Monitoring of the parasiticidal treatment

It is not enough to give the animal a worming medicine and believe that the problem is resolved.

Parasitic diseases usually require multiple injections of drugs at various intervals.

You should check your stools regularly, and only 2 negative results in a row (obtained approximately 1 month apart) may indicate that the parasites are gone.

Detection of intestinal malabsorption

Chronic diarrhea or bulky stools containing undigested food debris, loss of weight despite good appetite, dull coat, lethargy, anemia, and other disorders indicating a problem with digesting nutrients.

These problems should be thoroughly investigated with the help of more than just that stool analysis, but also by any other available research methods.


As you can see, feces can have different faces and can be used in various ways for diagnostics.

In animals, the flotation test for the detection of internal parasites is still the most common.

Such stool parasitological examination lasts on average 30-40 minutes and in most cases it is performed on site - in the office.

Sometimes the doctor decides to send the sample to an external laboratory, then the waiting time for the results is approx 1-2 days.

It is a simple, non-invasive and inexpensive test that should be performed on all adult animals at least once a year.

Stool tests they will not replace neither blood tests nor imaging diagnostics.

It is a valuable addition to the above research in the event of digestive and absorption disorders, but in itself it is a golden mean in diagnosing parasitic diseases.

It is important because most parasitoses are also dangerous for us - humans, especially for children and people with reduced immunity.

The fact that parasite eggs are still detected in flotation surveys proves the need to regularly check random stool samples and, of course, optimal treatment.

Our dream would be to make a necessity stool tests for parasites it was based solely on the concrete and actual suspicion of an invasion.

This is the case in people with whom parasitological analysis of feces is performed in cases of clinical suspicion of the presence of parasites.

Unfortunately - in veterinary medicine, worms are still detected often by accident, in the absence of any clinical symptoms.

Therefore, regular stool checks they are still an important part of the routine examination in our four-legged patients.

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