Harry here and that post card arrived in the mail that says I am due for my yearly exam and vaccines. Mom called to set up my appointment and the girl who answered the phone recommended that my mom bring in a stool sample as well. They told her that despite the fact I am an indoor cat only they still recommend routine stool checks to rule out intestinal parasites. Stool checks are important for cats, dogs, small animals and other exotic pets. If you are curious if your pet should have a stool sample checked then contact your veterinarian. Some of the most common parasites that dogs and cats can get are tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms or whipworms. Some parasites are zoonotic, which means they can be transferred between humans and pets, therefore it is important to practice proper hygiene when cleaning up after your pet. Roundworms are actually the leading cause of childhood blindness so you can see why the vet takes this so serious. I asked Dr. Paroff to give you the facts about stool samples and there importance, so I’ll turn the floor over to him.
Has your dog or cat ever caught a fly or a mouse? Has your dog or cat ever played in a house plant? Do you have an indoor only pet, but you still go outside? Did you know that the Northeast part of the US has the highest prevalence of roundworms than any other part of the country? Did you know that 40% of immune compromised people, including those with HIV/AIDS, cancer patients, and organ transplant recipients, own pets and they are more susceptible to being infected with these parasites?
Flies and other insects which may enter the house and then be hunted by our pets can be a major source of roundworm eggs! Once these invaders enter the house and a cat or dog sees them, the natural predatory instinct often takes over. How many times have you seen your cat or dog stalking the fly and finally catching it? Once ingested, the egg soon develops into an adult roundworm, and each individual female roundworm can produce as many as 24,000 eggs per day! These eggs are then passed back into the environment to start the cycle all over. That Easter Lily that is in the corner of the living room that not only is poisonous to your pet, could attract insects that carry roundworm eggs, is planted in potting soil that has a 15% chance of having roundworm eggs in it to start with.
Once a person is infected with a roundworm, most remain asymptomatic. However, that infection is capable of causing blindness and other systemic illnesses. It is estimated that 3-6 million people in the US may be infected with Toxocara Larval Migrans each year. The CDC reports in 2007 that 14% of the human population which have been tested are positive for roundworms. This percentage is not very accurate considering how infrequently human stool samples are ever tested. Maybe we should suggest it to our doctors that since I have a pet and I am possibly exposed to this, that you should check this out for me.
These few facts are only part of the reason why we should have our pet’s stool sample checked yearly, as well as keeping them on a monthly parasite prevention program. For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov or www.petsandparasites.org) or the Companion Animal Parasite Council (www.capcvet.org).
Harry & Doug Paroff, DVM
Stow Kent Animal Hospital