The Scoop on Poop: Intestinal Parasites

The Life Cycle of Intestinal Parasites

Each year, you get a postcard from your veterinarian reminding you of your pet's yearly wellness exam and vaccines. At the bottom of the list of overdue services is always the yearly fecal examination. Inevitably, you show up to the appointment and you've forgotten that poop sample. Most people shrug it off saying, "I'll remember to bring it next year." Well, I'm here to remind you just how important that once yearly stool sample really is.

Intestinal parasites are of great concern not only for your cat or dog but for your family as well. Consider these statistics:

  • Nationwide, 34% of dogs and cats are infected with gastrointestinal parasites.
  • Furthermore, 73% of pediatricians in the US reported cases of children with parasitic infection.

Pets can shed eggs into the environment and many different parasite eggs can thrive in the environment for years. Children become infected by putting soil/sand/objects that are contaminated with fecal matter into their mouths or by walking barefoot in contaminated soil.

The good news is we can do a lot to decrease intestinal parasite infection rates in both our pets and ourselves. Have a fecal exam done on your pet once yearly. Try to pick up pet waste daily and dispose of it properly. Wear shoes in areas that dogs visit frequently such as parks and playgrounds. Wear gloves while gardening. And most importantly, practice good hygiene. Wash hands frequently, especially after handling pets or cleaning up pet waste.

Click to learn more about intestinal parasites.