The Intestinal Parasite Fecal Float is a test used to analyze a stool sample for the eggs of many intestinal worms and other intestinal parasites. It is one of our most commonly used tests in young animals and pets suffering from diarrhea, and is also run annually for all adult pets.
To test your pet, a small amount of stool sample (feces/poop) is mixed into a testing liquid and processed for about 15 minutes. The high density of the float material causes parasites and eggs to rise, where we can capture them and then examine them under the microscope to identify the species of parasite and the appropriate corresponding treatment. The prevalence of parasites in the environment depends on many factors, and there are peak times of year where they tend to be worse. While a negative fecal float does not always mean a pet does not have parasites (false negative), a positive float definitively indicates exactly what parasites are present. We can easily identify parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, or whipworms, and even protozoans like giardia and coccidia.
Many of these parasites infect a pet when the pet consumes contaminated feces, potting soil, and dirt, or even by eating cockroaches or mice! A fecal float is performed regularly on young puppies and kittens, who often inherit parasites from their mothers.
An intestinal parasite fecal float is typically performed at your pet’s annual exam, which is why it is always helpful if you can bring in a fresh stool sample! In fact, the CDC recommends testing your pet’s stool twice yearly. Stool samples can always be dropped off for testing separately from a physical exam or appointment.
Many common intestinal parasites can be prevented by placing your pet on monthly, broad-spectrum parasite control like a monthly heartworm tablet and by minimizing exposure to common sources of parasites in the environment.