What is a fecal exam?
A fecal exam is a microscopic examination of your pet's feces. Also referred to as a fecal flotation, this exam gives your veterinarian the opportunity to identify intestinal parasites (such as giardia, tapeworms, and hookworms) that are otherwise hard to detect.
Intestinal parasites not only make pets uncomfortable but can also result in more serious health issues in dogs and cats if left untreated. In some cases, pet parasites can be transmissible to humans, underscoring the importance for prompt diagnosis and treatment. Vets may also request a fecal exam if they suspect gastrointestinal problems to be the source of a pet’s ailment, as it allows them to see strains of bacteria known to cause diarrhea in dogs or [cats] and prescribe antibiotics if necessary.
Fecal exams are also used to test for the presence of blood or irregularities in pets' stool that may be a clinical sign of disease, such as cancer or organ failure. Veterinarians recommend annual fecal exams as a means to screen for and detect such illnesses, many of which display few or no symptoms and would be difficult to diagnose otherwise until the condition worsens. Unfortunately, by the time severe symptoms develop in pets, a disease might be past intervention if too much damage has occured. Early detection through fecal flotation can help improve your pet's prognosis and increase the effectiveness of their treatment.
How do fecal exams work?
If your vet orders a fecal exam, pet owners will need to collect a fresh stool sample in a sterile container and bring it to the vet office before or after their appointment. The veterinarian will then test the content of the feces and inspect it beneath a microscope, or send it out to a laboratory for analysis. Then, he or she will review the patient’s lab report and go over the test results with the owner.
In most cases, the results of multiple diagnostic tests, including a fecal exam, are necessary for your veterinarian to obtain a final diagnosis and prescribe appropriate therapy. However, the medical expenses for these tests can be quite expensive.
Fortunately, most pet insurance providers provide coverage for diagnostic tests. Pet wellness plans may also cover an annual fecal exam as part of routine care. Typically, these add-on plans also cover annual exams, core vaccinations, spay/neuter costs, microchipping, and so on.
Average fecal exam cost
The cost of a pet fecal exam falls between $25 and $45 on average. Though an annual fecal exam is generally affordable, this cost can add up for puppies, kittens, and pets with gastrointestinal issues who might need more frequent testing.
Pet insurance generally covers the cost of fecal exams for pets if it's deemed necessary by a veterinarian for diagnostic testing. Many pet wellness plans also cover policy will also cover the treatment for your pet, provided there’s proof the animal receives preventative medicine on a regular basis.