How to Collect a Dog Stool Sample

Shortly after we adopted our foxhound, Bella, she had bloody diarrhea, lost her appetite and started to lose weight. We took a stool sample to our veterinarian, and Bella was diagnosed with hookworm.

Why Fecal Exams are Important

According to Kansas State University Pet Health Center, 34 percent of dogs in the U.S. are infected with gastrointestinal parasites. This statistic increases to 54 percent for dogs living in the southeastern states. Roundworms and hookworms are present in almost all areas of the U.S., and younger animals have much higher infection rates.

Intestinal parasites live in a dog’s gastrointestinal tract and are usually hidden from view, according to the Pet Health Network. Most intestinal parasites are never seen, and the only way a veterinarian can determine if a dog has a parasite is by examining a stool sample from your dog. A fecal exam helps veterinarians determine if a dog has intestinal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, coccidia and giardia.

Experts at the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) say that fecal exams don’t just protect your dog’s health. Some parasites can infect and transmit diseases to people.

Keeping dogs free of parasites is especially important in households that include young children, an elderly person, or someone with a weakened immune system—for example, transplant patients, HIV-positive people, or anyone undergoing chemo treatments.

Dogs usually pick up worm eggs when sniffing the ground. These eggs can be passed from mother to puppies at birth or when the pups are nursing through the mother’s milk.

Veterinary experts recommend a combination of annual fecal exams and monthly, year-round parasite preventatives as the best way to ensure dogs are safe from intestinal parasites. More frequent fecal exams may be needed for puppies and dogs with gastrointestinal disturbances, according to the CAPC.

Tips for Collecting a Stool Sample from Your Dog

What You’ll Need

  • Wear plastic gloves to make sure your skin doesn’t come in contact with feces.
  • Some veterinarians provide pet owners with sterile containers and plastic sticks for collecting stool samples. Otherwise, owners can use a plastic or glass container with a sealable cap. Old pill bottles work well. The container needs to be clean and free of any food residue or rust to avoid contaminating the feces.
  • Use a clean plastic spoon to collect the sample. A spoon— or syringe—will be especially helpful if the feces is liquid.
  • Create a label with your dog’s name and the date and time when the sample was collected. This should be attached to the container.
  • Use a plastic sealable bag for the container, once you’ve collected the sample.

How to Collect a Dog Stool Sample

Many dog owners wonder how fresh a dog stool sample needs to be. A dog’s poop that has been laying around for more than a day won’t work for the fecal exam, because the eggs have hatched and are no longer present in the stool. The fresher the sample you bring to your veterinary office, the better but definitely no more than 24 hours old.

Dogs typically eliminate at the same times every day, which makes it easier to get a sample. Just make sure that your dog doesn’t feel like you’re stalking him, or you may put him off his schedule.

When dogs’ defecate in the yard, you can put the sample directly into the container. If he needs to go for a walk to poop, take along a clean sealable bag to collect the poop and transfer a sample to the container when you get home.

A sample about the size of a walnut or two sugar cubes will be sufficient for the fecal exam.

Put the container inside a sealed bag. Keep the poop sample in a cool place such as in the refrigerator until you can get it to the veterinarian.

And remember: always wash your hands after picking up poop.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

27 comments

Leo C
Leo C2 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Danii P
Past Member 2 months ago

Thank you.

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Danii P
Past Member 2 months ago

Thank you.

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Sandra V
Sandra V2 months ago

Thanks

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Sandra V
Sandra V2 months ago

Thanks

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Carole R
Carole R2 months ago

Thanks ...I think.

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Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer2 months ago

I hope never have to do this.

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Winn A
Winn A2 months ago

I have cats.

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Winn A
Winn A2 months ago

Noted

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Danuta W
Danuta W2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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