Hookworms are intestinal parasites that live in the digestive system of your dog. This occurrence is not strictly reserved for your canine only. This is a common occurrence in felines as well. The hookworm attaches to the lining of the intestinal wall and simply feeds on dog’s blood. Hookworms eggs are ejected into the digestive tract and pass into the environment through dog’s feces.
What Are Hookworms?
Hookworms are, as mentioned, intestinal parasites that literally hook themselves into the lining of dog’s intestines. They got their name due to their hook-like mouthpieces, which they use to attach themselves to the intestinal wall.
Once they are ‘hooked’ into the lining, they start feeding off the tiny blood vessels within the intestinal lining. Regardless of their small size, hookworms are about 3 millimeters long, their feeding can lead to severe anemia. So, the life of a hookworm has three different stages:
- Egg stage
- Larvae stage
- Adult hookwarm stage
Basically, eggs pass through the feces, where they hatch into larvae (young hookworm) and contaminate the environment. Each larva can survive for weeks or even months before infects the dog. Once your dog is infected, the larvae migrate through the dog’s body until they come to the intestine. That’s where they mature into adult hookworms and lay eggs.
Young hookworms or larvae that hatch from hookworm eggs live in the soil. These larvae can infect dog simply through contact and penetration of the skin. In addition, your dog can be affected by eating the larvae when they ingest dirt or simply by their routine licking.
That being said, you need to take extra caution if your dog is a breed that’s feline-like when it comes to cleaning, such as Basenji.
Hookworms Explained In A Nutshell
- Hookworms are extremely serious threat to dogs, especially puppies.
- Hookworms can cause weight loss, diarrhea, blood loss, bloody diarrhea, and even death.
- Hookworms live in your dog’s digestive system.
- Hookworms can be diagnosed only by professional, meaning veterinarian.
- Have regular check-ups.
- Keep dog’s area clean, as hookworms live in the soil.
- Humans can be infected by hookworm from dogs.
- Other kind of worms that you should be informed about are: whipworms, tapeworms, heartworms, and roundworms.
What Causes Hookworms In Dogs?
There are three different and most common ways on how your dog can get this parasite. The most common way, for adult dogs, is by oral ingestion and direct contact with the skin. Don’t forget, as a parasite living in the soil hookworms can easily stick in your dog’s paws.
Avoiding these parasites is just one of many reasons why you should keep your dog’s paw clean after every walk, even after one-minute-long walk. In most cases, dogs ingest the larvae bu accident, simply by sniffing or even eating feces or contaminated soil.
In addition, they ingest these parasites by drinking contaminated water. And last but not least way of getting larvae into the dog’s system is through the mother’s milk.
Symptoms Of Hookworms In Dogs
With any other disease, catching hookworms early can save your dog from a lot of suffering and discomfort. There are several symptoms of hookworms in dogs that owners should be aware of. By learning to recognize these symptoms you will be able to spot the infection before it becomes a real issue. Therefore, the most common symptoms include:
Bear in mind that these symptoms are often indicators of other diseases, so make sure to contact your vet as soon as you notice any or all symptoms in your dog. An infected dog will look unhealthy and have a poor appetite. In addition, his lips, ears, and even nostrils will be pale.
However, if larvae enter the lungs, the dog will cough often and show symptoms, including diarrhea, constipation, tarry and dark stool, and other symptoms. If the dog is not immediately treated, death can come suddenly. Also, skin irritation could be one of the symptoms. Also, the symptoms may vary depending on the breed, age, general health of the infected dog, as well as a number of worms.
Hookworms eggs can be detected only using the microscope in a routine check of a stool sample. Also, it takes some time for infected puppies to shed eggs, so routine deworming of puppies is highly recommended. This should be a practice even when there are no visible signs of hookworms.
Diagnosing Hookworms In Dogs
If your veterinarian confirms your fears about your canine having hookworms he will most likely perform a diagnostic test known as ‘fecal float‘. This test is one of the most reliable methods when it comes to searching for hookworms in your dog. After all, these parasites produce large numbers of eggs on a daily basis.
The test is sometimes less reliable in very young puppies, and it takes two to three weeks for the larvae to mature and produce eggs. So, one of the best thing that you can do for your puppy is to talk to your veterinarian about deworming protocols that can help prevent a hookworm infection in litters. This test will also help the veterinarian determine what course of treatment to prescribe. If some of the puppies in a litter have died, the first suspicion is hookworms.
So, for sure a stool sample will be taken to search for hookworm eggs, and blood samples to check for the presence of anemia or a lack of any of important minerals, or any mineral whatsoever. Long story short, if you notice that your puppy is losing weight, contact veterinarian immediately.
However, if the dog is older, symptoms may be mild or intermittent. Furthermore, if there is any doubt, a stool sample can be taken to your veterinarian’s office for evaluation. This is a fast and safe way for your veterinarian to set the diagnose.
How To Prevent Hookworms In Dogs?
Just like with any other intestinal parasites, there are few steps that can help you with prevention. Before you start creating your action-steps list on how to prevent your dog from getting hookworms, you can talk with your veterinarian and about safe and effective prevention measures, and treatment options as well. Your dog’s area should be clean all the time and dry.
Hookworms are known for thriving in moist, so in warm environments, they will be present. In addition, avoid taking your dog to areas where a large amount of dog feces can be found. Also, don’t take your dog to facilities that don’t follow standard kennel protocols. Interestingly, but hookworms in puppies are preventable. Make sure that you have deworming schedule, especially if your dog is pregnant. Also, make sure that water in the container is fresh all the time.
The most common preventive measures are:
- Wearing shoes inside the home, because you can transmit parasites to your dog or his area.
- If your canine spends time in the backyard, make sure that he has a blanket or something similar to lay on.
- Always wash fruit and vegetable.
- Don’t use fertilizer made from human feces.
- Have children’s sandbox covered all the time.
- If you are passionate about gardening make sure to always wear shoes and gloves.
- Treat your dog, and cat if you one, regularly for hookworms.
Also, if you are a frequent traveler make sure to follow these rules when abroad. The risk of hookworm is low in the States, but you should still be careful when it comes to any new holiday destination, within or outside of the States. Simply said, make sure to keep your dog outside of the contaminated areas.
When it comes to the puppies, they should be treated for hookworms at 2,4,6, and 8 weeks of age with a deworming medication you can get from your veterinarian. Due to this very frequent treatment schedule, it is recommended due to the very high rate of hookworm infection in newborn puppies.
Additional deworming is usually not needed when a dog is regularly treated with a hookworm preventive. Most monthly deworming includes a drug to prevent treat and infections and that’s the main reason why additional deworming is not needed. Also, fecal examinations should be conducted 2 to 4 times during the first year or life and 1 to 2 times per year in adult dogs. Also, nursing mothers should be treated along with puppies.
With this type of parasites, there is always possible reinfection. And preventing reinfection is the key when it comes to treating hookworms. Since the eggs are pass through the feces, it is crucial to clean poop immediately, before the larvae have a chance to infect the environment. Also, there is no – still, approved product that can remove larvae from yards, so make sure that you talk with your vet about adding a hookworm preventive.
Treatment Of Hookworms In Dogs
The primary treatment for hookworms is an antiparasitic. In most cases, its pyrantel, moxidectin, and fenbendazole. This treatment should be administrated orally for around 2-3 weeks. Other common treatments include electrolytes if the dog is weak together with IV fluids, and iron supplements for anemia.
So, dogs treatment of this condition requires the intervention of a veterinarian who can prescribe adequate medicine to your dog. These drugs are mostly oral and they may come with few side effects, and they can only kill adult hookworms. This basically means that your veterinarian will treat your canine for a period of two to four weeks, in order to eliminate any newly formed larvae. In a few rare cases, your canine might require a blood transfusion to help combat severe anemia.
Also, in most cases, iron and nutritional supplementation may be necessary as well. And when it comes to pregnant females, treatment should begin two weeks after breeding and continue for two to four weeks after the puppies are born to get rid of any possible worms in the intestine and to protect the puppies as well.
In addition to severe cases, your puppy or your dog will need to be hospitalized for fluid therapy or supplemental oxygen, all depending on the severity of the anemia and of course, the general health of your dog. Be aware, there is always a possibility of sudden death even with treatment.
Can Humans Be Harmed By Hookworms?
Some hookworms of dogs can infect humans. It is usually done like with the dogs, by penetrating the skin. In most cases, this happens in most unexpected places, like walking barefoot on the beach, working in the garden or any other area where you may come in contact with feces. Infection usually results in an itching sensation together with the visible tracks on the skin.
Luckily, the condition is easily treated, although it can cause mild to extreme discomfort in the affected person. There are specific species of hookworm that infects dogs and it’s known to develop in the human intestine, too, where it may cause disease.
Preventing parasites is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. Therefore, knowing the symptoms of hookworms in dogs and how to prevent them will help your dog be happy, healthy, and hookworm-free. Also, bathing and washing your hands regularly can be a huge help when it comes to preventing hookworms.
Hookworms In Dogs – Key Takeaways
Hookworms are common intestinal parasites common in dogs, and luckily most infections are not life-threatening. Hookworms in dogs are easily treated, but the best thing that you could do for your dog when it comes to hookworms is to have regular veterinarian checkups and keep your dog’s area clean and dry.
Moreover, you should make sure to wear gloves and not to be barefoot if you are doing gardening. But, if you notice that your dog is experiencing some breathing or eating troubles, you should contact your veterinarian.