Why does my vet want a poop sample?
So you received your reminder in the mail that Fluffy is due for her wellness exam and some vaccines, as well as a “fecal exam”. It crosses our mind, why would my veterinarian possibly want to look at my pet’s poop? Let me tell you!
A fecal exam is performed to check for internal parasites. Even if your pet’s poop appears normal, they could be harboring parasites that can be spread to other pets and even to people! Gross! We would prefer to find these parasites and treat them before they become a problem to your pet.
There are multiple steps to a fecal exam. First, a fecal smear is performed. For this portion of the test you place a thin layer of feces across a slide, place it in special stains, and examine it under the microscope. Bacteria and a few parasites can be found. Next, a flotation is performed. The stool sample is mixed with a special solution that helps to separate parasite eggs from the sample and float to the surface. These are then found on a microscope slide. Finally, centrifugation is performed with further helps to separate some parasite eggs from the feces.
The last thing you need to know is how to bring the sample in to us. The fresher, the better! This is to make sure that the parasites are found in an unchanged form, as the longer the fecal sample sits out the harder it is to recognize them. Try to collect a stool sample that day if possible. If not, a sample from the night before is adequate, but it should be placed in a completely sealed container and put in the refrigerator.
Why does my vet want a urine sample?
During your exam on Fluffy, your vet discusses collecting a blood and urine sample on her. And again you wonder, why would my veterinarian want to look at my pet’s pee?
A urinalysis is very helpful in many situations to help assess your pet’s health. First, we check the concentration of your pet’s urine. This is helpful to make sure your pet’s kidneys are functioning appropriately (as they are in charge of concentrating urine) and make sure your pet is drinking appropriate levels of water. Then we check the pH of your pet’s urine, which tells us how acidic or basic the urine is. If abnormal, this can indicate types of infections or cause formation of bladder stones. We check for any protein in the urine. Protein should not be found, and if is it can indicate types of inflammation or kidney disease. The urine is checked for glucose (blood sugar) and ketones which can indicate that a pet has diabetes and related complications to this disease. The urine is then checked for bilirubin, which is a compound from the liver, and can indicate liver disease.
Next, urine sediment is examined under the microscope. The sediment is what remains after the urine is centrifuged, which separates the liquid and solid components of the urine. The sediment can be composed of white blood cells, red blood cells, bacteria, crystals, and casts. White blood cells in the urine can indicate forms of inflammation. If bacteria are seen, the pet may have a urinary tract infection and a culture should be performed. Crystals in the urine can indicate that a patient is predisposed to making (or has already made!) bladder stones. Finally, casts can reveal different types of kidney diseases.
Urine samples are requested for many reasons, including issues directly with the urine (you noticed your pet urinating abnormally) or as part of a wellness screening (better assessing your pet’s kidney function). Urine is collected in multiple ways. We may ask you to collect a urine sample at home. The first sample of the morning is the best, as it is often the most concentrated sample throughout the day. Collect the sample in a clean, dry container (we can provide one for you). If you are collecting for a dog, you will have to follow them outside and when they start to urinate, place the container in the stream of urine. If you are collecting for a cat, the litter will have to be removed from the box. The fresher the sample the better! Sometimes, we recommend that we collect the sample ourselves. Often, it is because it can be difficult to collect at home (especially for cats or short dogs!). Also, sometimes we want the sample to be as fresh and sterile as possible for accurate results. Your veterinarian can help you decide how the sample should best be collected.