Why is my Vet Obsessed with Poop?

If you have ever been here for a wellness exam or with a pet that is vomiting or having diarrhea chances are we have recommended a fecal check (also known as an Ova and parasite check).  We often hear people ask why. Wouldn’t you be able to tell at home if your pet has parasites? Wouldn’t the stool look different?

The answer is not usually. There are some worms that shed in pieces or segments large enough for you to see with the naked eye but most shed tiny eggs that need a microscope to be detected. Some parasites are single celled organisms so you will definitely not see them.  By the time you see large worms in your pets vomit or diarrhea they have a serious parasite infection. We want to intervene before that happens.

Parasites infections don’t just have health implications for pets. They can also infect family members. We are just as concerned with preventing your pet from making you sick as we are with keeping your pet healthy.

Here is a list of some of the parasites/parasite eggs we are looking for:

  • Roundworms- about 30% of dogs under 6 months of age and about 25% of cats in the US have a round worm infection. *
  • Hookworms- The closest published information for us is from New York state where 1 out of every 46 dogs tested positive for hookworms *
  • Whipworms- about 10% of dogs tested at Veterinary teaching hospitals in the US have whipworm infections *
  • Tapeworms-These guys are harder to find on fecal tests but some studies suggest up to 60% of dogs and up to 52.7% of cats are infected. * This varies by region and is likely significantly lower here but they are still present.
  • Giardia- The numbers here vary by region but infections in pets with clinical signs (diarrhea) were on average: 6% dogs and 10.3% cats
  • Coccidia-Again here numbers vary wildly depending on location and whether samples were tested from stray or cared for pets but overall incidence in the US in one study was 4.8%


*statistics from the companion animal parasite council website capcvet.org

There are other parasites found less commonly that can still cause disease.

Over the next few months I will introduce you to each of these parasites and explain how each of these can affect your pet’s health as well as your own.


The roundworms pictured above were graciously donated by the intestinal tract of a young canine patient.

Dr Elizabeth Layton

About the Author

Dr Elizabeth LaytonView all posts by Dr Elizabeth Layton
Dr Layton graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 2005 and began work in mixed animal practice. Dr. Layton’s special interest is dentistry but she enjoys a variety of internal medicine and surgical cases.


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