How to Obtain Viral Fecal Test for Diarrhea in Dogs

How to Obtain Viral Fecal Test for Diarrhea in Dogs: Essential Diagnostic Steps


how to obtain viral fecal test for diarrhea in dogs

When your dog experiences diarrhea, it can be a cause for concern. Obtaining a fecal test is a crucial step to determine the cause of diarrhea and inform the appropriate treatment. A veterinarian will typically request a fresh stool sample to perform this test. By analyzing the sample, the vet can identify infections, parasites, or other health issues that may be affecting your dog’s digestive system.


Taking your dog to a vet for a fecal test should be a priority if you notice persistent diarrhea symptoms. The test involves a series of examinations that can detect a range of common pathogens responsible for gastrointestinal problems. Understanding the underlying cause is vital to treat your dog effectively and prevent future episodes. Consistent and open communication with your veterinarian will ensure that you’re well informed about the process and the care required for your dog’s recovery.

Key Takeaways

  • Diagnosing diarrhea in dogs requires a fecal test by a vet.
  • Identifying the cause of diarrhea is essential for effective treatment.
  • Regular communication with your vet supports your dog’s health.

Understanding Canine Diarrhea and Its Causes

Before investigating viral fecal tests, you need a solid understanding of canine diarrhea and its typical causes.

Significance of Diarrhea in Dogs

Diarrhea in dogs represents more than just an inconvenience; it often indicates underlying health issues. Ranging from acute, short-lived episodes to persistent chronic conditions, diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration and nutrient depletion.

Common Causes and Types of Diarrhea

Dietary indiscretion, such as eating inappropriate food or garbage, is a frequent culprit. It can unsettle your dog’s stomach and intestines, leading to acute diarrhea. Meanwhile, food allergies can trigger a more prolonged type of diarrhea as part of an inflammatory response.

Infectious agents play a significant role as well. Parasites like giardia, roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms can infest the gastrointestinal tract. Likewise, intestinal parasites can provoke diarrhea, sometimes with vomiting or bloody diarrhea.

Bacterial infections are another common cause, with symptoms including abdominal pain and diarrhea. Stressful situations may also lead to a transient upset stomach, manifesting as diarrhea.

Certain diseases like parvovirus, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), chronic diarrhea, and even cancer can manifest through gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea. Toxins and metabolic disturbances contribute to the complexity of potential causes, as does exposure to environmental and dietary allergens.

Diagnostic Procedures for Canine Diarrhea

When your dog shows signs of diarrhea, a thorough diagnostic approach is crucial for effective treatment. This section guides you through the critical steps.

Physical Examination and History Taking

Start with a detailed physical examination focusing on signs of dehydration, anemia, and weight loss. Assess the appearance of your dog’s coat and eyes, as dehydration can often manifest in these areas. Next, take a comprehensive history to understand the frequency and duration of diarrhea, noting any recent dietary changes or stressors that could influence your dog’s immune system. This step is vital in determining potential underlying causes, such as intestinal inflammation or systemic issues like liver disease or pancreatitis.

Laboratory Tests and Imaging

After the initial assessment, proceed with laboratory tests. A Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Serum Biochemistry Profile help determine the dog’s overall health and can highlight issues like anemia or electrolyte imbalances (e.g., sodium, potassium). Perform a urinalysis to evaluate kidney function and systemic health. A stool sample is critical; conduct fecal testing for dogs to check for parasites, bacteria, or viruses using methods like smear, ELISA, or fecal Dx antigen testing. If initial tests don’t yield enough information, imaging such as radiographs or ultrasound may be necessary to inspect the intestines for any signs of inflammation or abnormalities. These advanced diagnostics can clarify the presence of conditions like intestinal inflammation and provide a more detailed internal view.

Remember, accurate diagnosis hinges on a combination of clinical signs, history, thorough physical examination, and targeted lab tests.

Treatment Options and Management

When your dog exhibits clinical signs of diarrhea, prompt treatment and management are essential to ensure quality care and recovery. The treatment strategy will focus on medical interventions and dietary modifications to address both the underlying cause and the symptoms of the condition.

Medical Treatments

Your vet may prescribe medications to target the specific viral infections causing diarrhea in your dog. Antibiotics are not typically effective against viruses, but they can help if your dog has a secondary bacterial infection. In cases where other conditions like hypoadrenocorticism or kidney failure contribute to the symptoms, your vet will use medications appropriate to those specific issues.

For viral cases accompanied by severe fluid loss and electrolyte imbalance, treatment often includes subcutaneous or intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration. Dewormers such as fenbendazole and anti-parasitic medications like metronidazole may be necessary if parasites are also present.

Dietary Management and Supportive Care

Initial care might involve withholding food for a short period followed by a gradual reintroduction of a bland, highly digestible veterinary diet to manage dietary indiscretion. Ensure constant access to fresh water to avoid dehydration. Gradually change in diet to include more nutrients and probiotics can enhance intestinal health.

Administer any prescribed medications as directed and monitor your dog closely for improvement or worsening of symptoms such as weakness, fever, or poor appetite. Attention to the environment, especially if your dog has recently been in boarding or other stressful situations, is critical as these can affect recovery.

Regular follow-ups with your veterinarian are necessary to adjust the treatment plan as your dog’s condition evolves.

Preventing Diarrhea in Dogs

Preventative measures can greatly reduce the risk of diarrhea in your dog. Maintain proper hygiene by regularly cleaning food and water bowls, as well as your dog’s living environment. This eliminates potentially infectious agents that cause diarrhea.

Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date to protect against viral infections known to upset your dog’s digestive system. Provide access to fresh, clean water at all times to support your dog’s immune system and reduce the likelihood of consuming contaminated water that can harbor parasites like Giardia.

Feed a balanced diet suitable for your dog’s age, breed, and health status. Sudden changes in diet can cause stress to your dog’s digestive system. If you must switch foods, do so gradually. Monitor your dog’s stool regularly for changes in consistency, which can be early indicators of gastrointestinal issues.

For puppies with less developed immune systems, execute worming schedules diligently to prevent parasitic infestations by organisms like roundworms or hookworms, which produce eggs eliminated in the stool and can lead to diarrhea.

Limit environmental stressors that can affect your dog’s digestive health. Stress can weaken the immune system, making your dog more susceptible to infections. Dogs can contract illnesses such as coccidiosis, cryptosporidium, and tritrichomonas, so maintain a clean and stable environment to help prevent these issues.

Utilize proper techniques like the fecal loop or centrifugation to regularly test for parasitic eggs. These fecal tests are crucial for early detection and treatment, which can prevent the spread of zoonotic or viral agents that may cause diarrhea.

Remember, preventive care is the most effective strategy to keep your dog healthy and free from diarrhea.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find clear answers to common questions about diagnosing and managing canine diarrhea through fecal testing.

What is the procedure for collecting a stool sample from a dog with diarrhea?

You will need to collect a fresh stool sample from your dog using a glove and place it into a clean, sealable container. Your vet may provide specific instructions on the amount needed and how to store the sample until testing.

What types of fecal examinations are used to diagnose diarrhea in dogs?

Common fecal tests for diagnosing canine diarrhea include direct smears, fecal flotation, and fecal DNA testing to identify various viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections.

How does fecal flotation work in diagnosing canine gastrointestinal issues?

Fecal flotation separates parasites from stool by suspending the sample in a solution that causes parasite eggs or cysts to float to the top, where they’re collected for microscopic examination.

What does it mean when a dog’s fecal test results are positive, and what are the next steps?

A positive fecal test indicates the presence of parasites, bacteria, or viruses causing diarrhea. The next steps usually involve treatment plans, which may include medication, diet changes, or further diagnostics.

Can you explain the purpose and process of a PCR stool test for canines?

A PCR stool test for canines is a molecular test used to detect specific genetic material from pathogens. This highly sensitive method can identify even minute quantities of bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

What is the estimated cost range for a dog’s fecal diagnostic test?

The cost of fecal diagnostic tests for dogs varies, typically ranging from $25 to $150, depending on the complexity of the tests and your geographic location. Your veterinarian can provide a more precise estimate based on the type of tests required.


Related Articles in Causes of Dog Diarrhea Due to Viral Infections:

What Viruses Cause Dog Diarrhea?
Puppy Viral Diarrhea Symptoms
Treating Dog Viral Diarrhea
Can Dogs Catch a Diarrhea Causing Virus?
Do Antibiotics Help Viral Dog Diarrhea?
Best Dog Food for Viral Diarrhea
Viral Diarrhea Dog Dehydration Risk
Is Bloody Viral Dog Diarrhea Dangerous?
Viruses Causing Canine Hemorraghic Gastroenteritis Diarrhea

Dr. Jeff Kordell, DVM is a practicing veterinarian in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois Veterinary School. Dr. Kordell owns Animal Medical Center at Fort Sheridan and has had his own private practice for over 30 years. He is the co-founder of K&S Veterinary Labs LLC the maker of DiarRice.