Hookworms are a common internal parasite in dogs and just one five common dog worms (roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworm and heartworm). There are three species of hookworms that affect dogs: Ancyclostoma caninum, A. braziliense and Uncinaria stenocephala. These dog worms are thin and small and are less than an inch long.
Hookworms are most common in warm, humid climates and thrive in warm, damp and sandy soil. Microscopically small hookworm larvae penetrate the skin, usually through the feet, or are transmitted to pups through their mother’s milk. They can also be ingested from the environment, off a blade of grass for instance. Dogs also can get hookworm by eating infected animals.
Once inside the dog, hookworms migrate through the body to the small intestine. Hookwarms latch onto the intestinal wall with their goblet-shaped mouths (lined with three sets of teeth) and suck blood from it, causing anemia in severe cases.
Symptoms of hookworms in dogs include:
• Weight loss
• Iron deficiency
• Pale gums
• Tarry stools
If you suspect your dog has hookworms, immediately take him to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will do a fecal exam to confirm the presence of hookworms. You veterinarian will give your dog medication to kill the dog worms. Your vet may also recommend supportive treatment, such as blood transfusions (in severe cases), iron supplements, a high-protein diet, electrolyte and fluid therapy.
Veterinarians recommend routinely de-worming puppies and annual fecal exams. Keeping dog feces picked up will help prevent re-infection. Hookworms can be passed to people (infecting their skin and/or intestines). Two hookworm species can affect cats: A. braziliense and A.tubaeforme.
Excerpt from the book The Original Dog Bible, edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, with permission from its publisher, BowTie Press. Purchase The Original Dog Bible here.