Understanding Hookworm in Dogs and Puppies
Hookworms are insidious parasites that can live inside a dog’s intestine. While they typically cause mild symptoms in adult animals, they can be much more serious in puppies.
Learn how dogs get hookworms, the signs and symptoms of an infection, the risk these intestinal parasites can pose to humans and how to treat and prevent hookworm in dogs.
How Does Your Dog Get Hookworms?
Hookworms thrive in moist, warm environments. When infected animals leave waste in soil or sand, hookworm eggs can spread and hatch into larvae.
Your dog can become infected if they swallow these larvae while digging around and playing outside, or while eating dirt, stool, grass or infected prey like rodents and insects. Hookworm larvae can even burrow into your dog’s paws as they walk, causing inflamed and sore skin between their toes. Your dog could also eat the larvae as they groom their paws.
DID YOU KNOW?
Puppies are particularly at risk for hookworms. They often contract the parasites soon after birth by drinking their infected mother’s milk.
Once swallowed, hookworm larvae grow into adult hookworms and latch onto your dog’s gut to feed and lay new eggs, starting the cycle all over again.
What are the Symptoms of Hookworms in Dogs?
Symptoms of hookworm can include:
- Poor appetite
- Unexplained weight loss or stunted growth
- Diarrhea, potentially bloody
- Dark or tar-like poop
- Difficulty breathing
- Itchy paws
Hookworms are white or reddish-brown, very thin — like a strand of hair — and short, sometimes less than an inch long. Although they may be present in your pet’s stool, they can be difficult to see with the naked eye. Your vet can make a diagnosis by looking for hookworm eggs from a fecal sample from your dog.
Can Humans Get Hookworms from their Dogs?
Yes, humans can contract hookworms from infected dog waste. You may accidentally ingest the larvae or they can burrow into your skin when your bare feet or hands have extended contact with contaminated soil, such as when gardening or walking around barefoot. Make sure to always wash your hands after touching dirt, and avoid walking outside while barefoot in places where pets often congregate.
How to Treat Hookworm in Your Dog
You can help reduce the risk of hookworm infection by keeping your pet’s areas clean, and regularly removing pet waste from your yard or local park.
To help get rid of worms already living inside your dog, you can use a deworming treatment to kill many common intestinal worms found in dogs. Be sure to read the worming product label to learn how often to deworm your dog.
Keep in mind that intestinal worms like hookworms are very common, especially in puppies. If your dog has worms, don’t panic! Giving a deworming treatment is a quick and easy way to help eliminate these pests so your dog can get back to making memories with your family.