Analysing dog poo might seem like a stink job. But somebody’s got to do it – and that somebody it Te Are Manu clinic vet Claire Stuhlmann.
Claire loves every minute of it. She can see the types of worms in an animal just from looking at their poo under a microscope.
She has been looking at poo samples from different dogs around the island to figure out what intestinal parasites exists on the island.
Claire has found fresh poo from orphaned dogs at the SPCA, from wandering strays at the Punanga Nui Market, and from the furry companions that come into the clinic for a check-up.
“I ask their owners and say hey I’m from America doing this research study do you mind if I take a sample of your dog’s poop?”
She says everyone’s been so friendly and willing to offer their dogs’ poo up for testing. “But they kind of look at me like I’m crazy,” she laughs.
While looking at these dog faeces, Claire has been able to identify what species of worms the dogs have.
Out of 25 dogs whose poo was examined, 70 per cent of the animals have hook worm.
Dogs with hookworm will look unhealthy and have a low appetite, and they may also have diarrhoea and constipation.
Claire says people can also get a hookworm infection by touching contaminated dirt with their bare hands or feet.
It’s rare but she explains, “the hookworm eggs are in a dog’s poo and hatch into larvae and the larvae are found in the dirt especially around moist soil like under the coconut trees.”
Even barefoot walks on the beach may mean contracting a hookworm infection.
She says because these worms live in the environment, she recommends people deworm their animals every three month.
Claire, who is here for a month, is a veterinarian student and her research is part of her veterinarian degree.
The Te Are Manu vet clinic has been happy to have Claire but they are in need of a full time vet – and so they’re appealing for public support.
This Friday the clinic is hosting a Golf Ambrose fundraiser at the Rarotonga Golf Club at 2pm and 4pm with food sales and entertainment.
There are still spots available for teams of 6 at $150 per team.
• Contact Te Are Manu vet clinic on 27719.