Vet Tech Students Learn to Help Pets
Vet tech students learn every facet of animal anatomy during their time in the program.

Vet Tech Students Learn to Help Pets

Students in CNM’s Veterinary Technology program are currently studying parasites in animals that can potentially pose a danger to humans.
June 27, 2019

In their most recent lab class, CNM’s veterinary technology students were tasked with the job of examining animal fecal samples, all in the name of science. Some might think of the iconic Jurassic Park scene where Laura Dern and Sam Neill’s characters rummage through a pile of dinosaur excrement, but our students take a more sanitary approach.

 The vet tech lab at CNM’s South Valley Campus was filled with students in white lab coats peering through microscopes looking for parasites in different animal fecal samples.

“We always wear gloves and, on days like today, constantly wash our hands,” says Vet Tech Student Mariah Hirning. “A lot of the parasites that animals can contract will show up in the feces. By identifying the parasites, we can then make a decision on how to treat the animal and determine the severity of the infection.”

Pet owner education is very important when it comes to parasites and animal health in general. Mariah says that if owners aren’t aware of the cause of illness, it can pose a threat to other pets.

“A lot of the time, if an animal is sick, the owner might not assume the cause is a parasite,” she says. “Once we confirm that a parasite is the cause, through these kinds of fecal tests, we can then educate the owners on how to prevent and protect their animals from contracting the parasite again and keep it from spreading to other animals.”

Prepared samples of parasites that students can match in the fecal samples.

There are also some potential health hazards to humans when it comes to parasites infecting their pets.

“There are some parasites that are considered dangerous to humans as well, so the owners do have the potential to become infected via their animals,” says Mariah, “That’s why it’s very important to understand and identify exactly what parasite has infected the animal and if that parasite can transfer to a human, we would then recommend they see a doctor ASAP.”

According to Vet Tech Instructor Amanda Archuleta, studying parasites through examining fecal samples is vital to the students’ overall education.

“Parasitology is a key part of our curriculum,” says Amanda. “A decent number of cases of animals vomiting, not eating or drinking or having diarrhea are caused by parasites.”

Amanda says that she wants her students to be well-versed on this topic so that when they enter the workforce, they can accurately identify parasitical symptoms and help treat the animal accordingly.

“The students are learning what types of parasites the animals can have,” Amanda says. “I want my students going out into a clinical setting, having an in-depth scope of knowledge. I want our local veterinarians to know that they have a skilled team of technicians working with them.”

 Working with animals can be a challenging job, but for students like Mariah, it’s well worth it.

“I’ve always loved animals and had a deep compassion and respect for their lives,” she says. “Now, I am learning how to care for different animals. I want them to live happy and healthy lives, just like us.”

Amanda says that the need for veterinary technicians in New Mexico continues to grow and that graduates from CNM’s program get jobs.

“I constantly have veterinarians contacting me saying that they are hiring vet techs,” says Amanda. “They’re always asking if we can send our graduates their way. Our more senior students often get job offers prior to graduating.”

Learn more about CNM’s Veterinary Technology program.

Vet Tech student, Mariah Hirning, peers through a microscope to look for parasites in fecal samples.