Fecal flotation is a routine veterinary test used to diagnose internal parasites or “worms.” The test detects the eggs of mature parasites that live inside the body and pass their eggs to the outside by shedding them into the host’s stool. Some of these parasites are worm-like, while others are tiny single-celled organisms called protozoa. Most of the parasites live in the intestine, but a few live elsewhere in the body. A fresh fecal sample is collected, and mixed with a solution that causes the eggs to float to the surface where they are able to be transferred to a microscope slide. The slide is then examined under the microscope slide and identified. Often the number of eggs per slide can be helpful in treatment of certain internal parasites.
A yearly fecal flotation done as part of the annual check-up is usually sufficient to monitor the health of adult pet. A fecal flotation is only a basic screening test and may fail to detect parasites in some situations. This test can fail for a few different reasons, if the parasites are too young to produce eggs or they are simply not shedding eggs at the time of the fecal the test may come up negative. If the infection is mild there may not be enough parasites shedding eggs at one time to detect on floatation, resulting in a negative test. It’s for these reasons that you should submit a few samples of fecal matter for submission.