What are hookworms?
Hookworms are a common intestinal parasite found in dogs. This tiny parasite sucks large amounts of blood from the pet. Dogs may become infected in one of the following ways:
- Dogs can ingest immature parasites (called larvae) in contaminated soil or water
- Dogs eat tissues from an infected animal
- Larvae can penetrate a dog’s skin
- Larvae can infect young pups via their mother’s milk
How do I know if my dog has hookworms?
Checking a pet’s stool for parasites is an important part of veterinary care. Diagnosis is made by finding the eggs in feces. Microscopic examination of the stool will identify the species of hookworm present.
Are hookworm infections serious?
Because hookworms feed on blood, they may cause anemia, stunted growth in young animals, dull and dry haircoat, diarrhea, or weakness.
How is hookworm infection treated?
Safe and effective dewormers are available to treat your dog for hookworms. Treatment will need to be repeated in 2 to 4 weeks since these drugs kill only adult hookworms and not any migrating larvae. Any feces in the yard should be picked up daily to help prevent reinfection.
Can hookworms affect people?
Hookworm larvae can penetrate a person’s skin (usually bare feet) and migrate. This disease is called “cutaneous larva migrans.” Lesions appear as a red line beneath the skin and may cause severe itching. Occasionally, larvae may make their way through the skin and enter deeper tissues, causing lung disease or muscle pain and inflammation.
Your veterinarian can discuss the risks of hookworms to your dog and preventive measures to help avoid it. Regular examination of your dog’s feces and treatment with a dewormer will help protect your dog’s health and help prevent the spread of hookworm.
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