What is Fecal Centrifugation and Why Does My Pet Need It?
Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and other intestinal parasites can all cause serious illness in pets. Common symptoms of worms include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, poor coat appearance, and abdominal pain. If left untreated, pets can even die if they are heavily infected. If your animal is presenting any of the above clinical signs, it is important to bring your dog or cat to the veterinarian in order to confirm the worm and determine the best treatment options. Confirming a parasitic worm is often done through diagnostic testing such as fecal centrifugation.
What is Involved with a Fecal Centrifugation Test?
In order to test for intestinal worms, you will need to collect a stool sample from your dog or cat. Use a plastic bag to collect a fresh sample, or collect the feces in a sealed container. The fresher the sample the better, so try to collect something that is less than a day old. If you have multiple cats that share a litter box or several dogs that relieve themselves in the same place, most veterinarians will accept any sample, as worms are very contagious and chances are if one animal has an infection, they all do. If for some reason you are unable to bring in a sample or if you are uncomfortable collecting one, your veterinarian can collect a sample in the office during a rectal examination.
After a sample has been collected, the vet will place a small amount of the feces into a test tube that will be mixed with a fecal flotation solution. The solution will allow any material such as worms or eggs to float to the top of the tube. The tube will be placed into a centrifuge, which is a machine that spins the tube in a circle very quickly. The spinning of the tube causes heavy material to sink, and the light material to rise. Once completed, the vet will look at the sample under a microscope to confirm the parasitic worm. This test is usually performed by your veterinarian right in the office, however, some practices will send a fecal sample to an off-site laboratory for testing. You can expect the results to come back within a couple of days or sooner, depending on if the sample was sent out or not.
Why Choose Fecal Centrifugation Over Another Method?
This method of testing has been widely popular due to the simplicity of the test, the low cost, and the accurate results of the test. Proper technique is critical when performing this test, and a centrifuge eliminates most human error. The test is very simple, as vets only need to prepare the sample with the solution and place the tube into the machine. Due to the simplicity of the test, it is not considered a very expensive testing method. Accuracy greatly depends on a veterinarian’s understanding of expected levels of egg excretion, and the knowledge to identify the materials that have floated to the top of the tube.
My Pet Looks Healthy, Should He Still Be Tested?
Some pets appear to be healthy and do not show any clinical signs of an intestinal worm infestation. Periodic testing of healthy pets is recommended and can be completed during an annual check-up. Dogs and cats that are on parasite preventative medications should still be tested periodically as well, as there is not a single medication that can prevent all worms.
Additionally, any new pet that you add to your family should be tested before being introduced to your current animals. Parasitic worms are highly contagious, and it is important to make sure you are not bringing home any new diseases! That being said, some worms also pose a risk to humans. Check out our pages on Worms in Dogs and Worms in Cats to see which parasites can be transmitted from an animal to you!