Rule #1

During veterinary school, my classmates and I came up with a list of ten veterinary-related rules. Some of these had to do with humorous events in school, but the #1 rule is as important now as it was then.

Rule #1 : Don’t Eat Poop

(No, really, it’s more complicated than you think. Many parasites are transmitted to other animals or humans through the GI tract and excretion of animals. Fecal contamination of the yard, beaches, and house doesn’t take much at all. If your dog’s feet are dirty when it comes in the house, it could be carrying in the eggs of various intestinal worms. They get on the carpet, or your bed, or play areas. It doesn’t take much to contaminate things that end up in our mouths. The potential is there, and I assure you that the risk is very real.)

The rule is phrased in such a disgusting way to make a specific impact. While stool isn’t appropriate for consumption — something I wish more dogs would realize — it can be extremely useful as a diagnostic tool. The article linked to below is a Q&A with a veterinarian about what we can learn from a stool sample. It’s worth checking out!

Veterinary Q&A: Poop as a diagnostic tool



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4 responses to “Rule #1

  1. Chris

    Amen, excellent rule! And it is way more complicated. Glad we are fastidious about twice-a-year poop checks.

  2. I guess you have had that rule in your mind way before you went to Vet school. I remember when , as a kid, you would have fit when your golden used to drag her bottom on the carpet !! I had to clean it up right away ! It didn’t stop you and your sister from have a lot of fun with that dog. Good memories. Even back then we did do once a year poop checks at Bay Animal.

  3. Parasites are, honestly, among the most disgusting things that we deal with as vets and pet owners. I wish there was a way to impress upon more of our clients how bad this can be, and how easy it is to prevent. Thanks for the comment!

  4. She was a good dog! 🙂 We’ve moved from annual fecal checks to twice-yearly. The CDC urges as many as 3-4 a year for puppies and then 2 per year for adult dogs. The big push now is to check stool on cats, even if they’re indoor. A study done showed a surprisingly high prevalence of parasite-infested cats. And given that my own cat occasionally waltzes on the kitchen cupboard when I’m not around, I’m heeding the recommendation to use parasite prevention.

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