Hookworms (Ancylostoma and Uncinaria) live in the small intestines and can be fatal to dogs. They are especially dangerous to puppies and smaller breeds. Unlike Canine Roundworm which feed of partially digested food, hookworms are blood sucking parasites which attach themselves to the intestine wall and feed directly off their host.
Hookworms can affect humans and animals and are common in areas with poor sanitation. However, due to the ease in which they can spread every owner should be aware of infection.
The worms and larvae live in everyday surroundings such as soil, water and faeces and do not even have to be ingested to contaminate as they can attach themselves to hair and body parts. They can also be passed on from other dogs.
How infection can occur:
Like most worm infections, hookworms show very few early symptoms. The longer your dog goes untreated the more discomfort they will suffer and the chances of serious complications increase.
Some signs you should be wary of include:
If you suspect your dog has hookworms then you should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
Although contraction is easy and symptoms are difficult to spot, hookworms are easily preventable. Regular use of de-worming medicine will ensure that both roundworms and hookworms won’t be able to thrive.
De-wormer is commonly given to dogs and puppies at the following times:
If your dog has contracted hookworms then a simple course of medication should be enough to kill off the infection. In more advanced cases, nutritional and iron supplements may also be prescribed to help regain the dog’s strength.
In rarer situations, such as a serve infection in a puppy, fluid therapy or even a blood transfusion maybe needed.
The most common de-wormers in the UK are tablets, liquids and spot-on treatments. You should always read the instructions before administering any treatment, even if you are familiar with one particular type, as they often have specific requirements.
Tablets: Some tablets are flavoured, but it is common for owners to hide them in food or coat them in peanut butter.
Liquids: These can be dripped straight into the mouth.
Spot On treatments: These can be directly applied to the skin, usually on the back of the neck, and are slowly absorbed into the bloodstream.
It is important to keep in mind that de-wormers come in different classes based on the weight, age and breed of your dog. If you are unsure which treatment class is suitable then check with your vet. They can also recommend specific brands which can save a lot of confusion.
Humans can contract hookworms from dogs. This can happen by directly ingesting them from a contaminated source, such as drinking an infected water supply, or not washing hands thoroughly after handling soil or faeces.
The more likely way a dog can pass hookworms onto a human is via the larvae burrowing under the skin. Walking barefoot over contaminated soil is also common cause of infection. Symptoms can include a rash and itching.
Although this larva does not mature into adult hookworms, once in the body it can be attach itself to organs and eyes and cause great discomfort, internal organ damage and blindness.
If you are worried that you may have contracted hookworm form your pet or elsewhere, then you should see a doctor right away. Treatment is straightforward and short course of prescribed medication is all that is needed in most cases.