Your pet's stool sample provides your veterinarian important information about the health of the animal's intestinal tract. Commonly, vets check for intestinal parasite infestation with a stool sample, but that's not the only health problem a stool sample is good for. It is not particularly difficult to get a stool sample, though many pet owners find the task to be somewhat gross.
How to Take a Stool Sample
To take a stool sample:
Turn a plastic baggie inside out and fit it over your hand like a mitten or glove. Pick up the stool sample with the baggie, then turn the baggie right side out without releasing the stool sample. *Seal the baggie tightly.
If more than a couple hours will pass before you go to the veterinarian, store your pet's stool sample in the refrigerator until time to deliver it.
You may want to wear protective latex gloves while performing this task. Wash your hands immediately after picking up the stool sample.
The Purpose of a Stool Sample
A dog can pick up various types of intestinal parasites during the course of life, but not every type of parasite is treated with the same type of wormer. Stool samples allow a vet to identify the specific type of intestinal parasite infesting your dog so he can provide the appropriate, parasite-specific regimen of treatment.
A stool sample also is a conduit for testing for the presence of infectious microorganisms in a pet. A stool sample can hint at certain organ function deficiencies, certain illnesses and gastrointestinal disorders.
When to Take a Stool Sample
It's a good practice to collect a stool sample immediately before your pet's regular checkups. The average healthy pet should be checked for worms during his regularly scheduled physical exams, which should occur annually or bi-annually, depending on your veterinarian's recommendation. Young puppies should be checked for worms and given dewormer at two-week or three-week intervals during their first few months of life.
Take a sample if you notice something odd about your pet's stool or if your pet is experiencing intestinal problems such as vomiting or diarrhea.
Supervise your pet when he is using the bathroom; pick up the sample while it is still fresh. If you have multiple pets in your household using the same space for elimination, supervising ensures that you have the right sample matched to the right animal. If you are unsure which pet is having intestinal problems, take samples from all of your pets.