Often a veterinarian will ask you to bring in a fecal sample (also known as poop, poopy, poopoo, doodoo, excrement, midden, brownie, colon cobra, dung, dookie, scat, lincoln logs, mud bunnies, or Hell's candy) from your dog. They will have many reasons for this, the primary one being to see if you'll actually do it. This can create a high level of anxiety for most clients. To help you not fall in it, smear it around, or otherwise mess up a pretty simple task, we have put together a guide to ease your burden.
1. There are various methods on how to obtain feces at home. Here are some ideas:
a. if you have a child, have them do it. Give them no instructions to add humor to the project, especially if they're home-schooled. This is called character-building.
b. use a container (preferably a hard plastic one with a child-proof cap; why a child would want to get into this is a mystery, but they do a lot of stupid things don't they?) to scoop feces or part of feces into it. A downside is that some fecal molecules may adhere to the outside rim, thus warranting cleaning of the outside of the container. You will then have many days of anxiety wondering if some might have gone unnoticed and be hiding somewhere in your house.
c. use another implement to scoop a piece of feces into the container. Challenge yourself to drop it perfectly into the opening without hitting the edges, thus preventing extra cleaning of the container. Need it be said that this now becomes an implement that you will no longer want to use? So, choose wisely.
d. alternatively, you can use an intermediary piece of plastic or small bag to put the feces in before the container. If you do this, make sure you squish it around a lot, because most veterinary staff members like a surprise when trying to get the sample they need out. You can make it even more of a surprise if you use something opaque, so they really don't know what they're getting into until they have to peel it apart.
e. do not use your hands, even if gloved, because that is just icky.
f. like bread, you want to pick the freshest feces of the day, preferably while still warm. If the feces is white, it is too old. And you need to clean your yard more often.
g. do not try to catch feces while still in mid-air. I don't know why this needs to be said, but I just know some of you out there will try to do this unless you're told not to. It's not like when you have to catch a urine sample, ok? If dirt or grass gets on the feces, it doesn't make it grosser.
h. as in "g" above, do not play in the feces. Shouldn't need to be said. But you never know.
Finally, once you have the fecal sample, follow these steps:
3. Seal container in continuous layer of clear plastic wrap. You want to use clear wrap so you can verify that the feces has not escaped.
4. Place in sandwich-sized sealable plastic bag and roll bag around container. Since this is also clear, verify that feces has still not escaped. No? Good.
5. Wrap in several layers of absorbent paper towels. While it is unlikely that fecal gas or oozy fluid will dissolve or otherwise cause, by expansion, hard plastic to explode, you can never be too careful.
6. Place in sealable, hard plastic container. Like the implement you may have used to get feces, this should be considered non-reusable. However, for fun, you can insist to the veterinary staff that you want it back, just so they can talk about you later. It's a great way to be remembered by them in the future.
7. Finally put everything into a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag. Alternatively you can place this in a festive bag or maybe put a bow on it to hide the otherwise disgusting nature of the contents.
8. It is now safe to drive your pet's fecal sample to the veterinary clinic. Drive slowly, avoid pot-holes, sudden stops, or unnecessary jostling. Make sure you obey all traffic laws. The transportation of feces outside of a body cavity is illegal in some states.
9. If you have any questions regarding the above steps, please feel free to call your nearest veterinary practice. They love answering these kinds of questions.