102This lab serves as an introduction to common laboratory procedures which may be conducted to assess the functional capabilities of the gastrointestinal system. Because the gastrointestinal system depends on many organs, such testing may be useful in assessing not only the common parts of the alimentary canal which extends from the mouth to the anus, but also the pancreas, gallbladder and to some extent the liver.

For species that have a cloaca, as with some exotic animals, fecal testing can provide insight into the status of the reproductive and urinary systems in addition to the gastrointestinal tract. A cloaca is a common collecting organ and end point for the gastrointestinal, reproductive and urinary tracts. As a result, matter from all three systems may be partially mixed together creating a ‘dropping’ that contains more than feces alone (Figure 11-1). The individual components may be grossly distinguishable with normal samples but are greatly mixed with diarrhea and other abnormal conditions (Figure 11-2). Birds, amphibians and some reptiles and mammals possess a cloaca.

Normal dropping from a budgerigar <italic>(Melopsittacus undulatus).</italic> The brown feces (digestive tract) and white urates (urinary tract) are readily visible. While common in droppings from other species, those that originate from arid land and/or eat dry foods may have little urine present. Sperm and other reproductive tract components may also be visible in normal droppings of some animals that possess a cloaca. https://s3-euw1-ap-pe-df-pch-content-public-p.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/9781003330967/0a526a93-8289-4400-95dd-4302804af1d5/content/fig11_1_C.jpg" xmlns:xlink="https://www.w3.org/1999/xlink"/> Droppings from a cockatiel <italic>(Nymphicus hollandicus)</italic> with hematuria (blood in the urine). It can be difficult to determine the source of the blood in the dropping as it is a collection of digestive, urinary and reproductive tract waste and/or secretions. The blood tinged urine and laboratory support of kidney disease helps identify the blood as coming from the urinary tract. https://s3-euw1-ap-pe-df-pch-content-public-p.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/9781003330967/0a526a93-8289-4400-95dd-4302804af1d5/content/fig11_2_C.jpg" xmlns:xlink="https://www.w3.org/1999/xlink"/>

This lab addresses the following Veterinary Technician Student Essential and Recommended Skills List as set forth by the AVMA-CVTEA in Appendix I, Section 6 – Laboratory Procedures to include:

Perform coprophologic testing