Positive Fecal Tests – What are the Numbers?


Have you ever wondered how often a fecal is actually positive for intestinal parasites when tested? While a variety of factors might impact the percentage of positive fecal tests, we want to give you a snapshot of our fecal testing results for the month of June 2016.

Lawndale tested 258 fecal samples in dogs and cats in June. Ten percent (27 samples) were positive. That means 1 in 10 pets tested positive for intestinal parasites! The types of parasites identified in cats included Roundworms, Hookworms, Coccidia, and Tapeworms. The types of parasites identified in dogs included Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms, Tapeworms, Coccidia, and Giardia. Some patients had multiple parasites in the same sample.

Let’s tease out those numbers a little more.

A large number of the samples tested (216) were routine annual fecal tests, which means there was not typically a suspicion that the pet had intestinal parasites.

Of those routine annual fecal tests, 5.6% (12 samples) were positive.

For the remaining 42 samples tested, we already had a higher index of suspicion that the pet might have intestinal parasites because the patient was either a puppy, kitten, or a pet having gastrointestinal symptoms.

Of the 27 patients tested for gastrointestinal signs, 26% (7 patients) had intestinal parasites.

Of the 15 puppies and kittens tested, 53% (8 patients) had intestinal parasites.

This data is consistent with what we generally know to be true. Intestinal parasites may or may not cause signs of illness. If your pet has gastrointestinal signs, consider having a fecal test performed. Puppies and kittens often get intestinal parasites through nursing or environmental contamination. If you have a puppy or kitten, he or she should be tested (several times) and dewormed during the puppy visits.

Did you know that many heartworm prevention products also help with controlling certain intestinal parasites? Is it possible for a pet to pick up a parasite while on monthly prevention? Yes. For example, if the parasite is a type that is not covered by the product, the pet can become infected. Additionally, it is important to note that for some products, a pet may still test positive for a parasite that the product protects against at certain points during the month. Some intestinal parasite prevention products work by deworming the day the medication is administered. The drug then clears out of the system for the rest of the month. So, an animal can still pick up an intestinal parasite at some point later in the month, but then the next month’s dose will take care of the problem.

For more information about intestinal parasites and fecal testing, visit our ‘Paws to Protect: Intestinal Parasites‘ page. Be sure to have your pet tested at least annually, and keep your dog and cat on year-round, monthly prevention.

Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS