Hookworms in Pets

The hookworm is a common intestinal parasite of dogs. Incidence of infection varies by region. Hookworms attach to the intestinal lining and feed by sucking significant amounts of blood from their host. Adult worms live in a pet's small intestine and deposit eggs that are passed in the stool to develop into larvae.

Infection occurs by ingestion of larvae from contaminated environments or larval entry though skin. Hookworms in a female dog can infect her puppies before they are born. Human infection is possible - larvae enter through skin, usually on the feet, causing skin disease and irritation. See your physician if you have questions about hookworms in humans.

Signs of hookworm infection include:

  • diarrhea or tarry stools
  • weight loss
  • poor coat
  • slow growth
  • dehydration
  • pale mucous membranes

In young, weak or malnourished dogs, hookworms can cause sudden collapse and death. Older, more resistant dogs may suffer a slow, progressive wasting disease.

Microscopic examination of the stool for parasite eggs is the only reliable means of diagnosis.

Several deworming medications are available to treat the disease. If significant blood loss or dehydration has occurred, hospitalization, fluid therapy, additional medications and even blood transfusions may be necessary. Following treatment, an additional stool examination should be conducted to confirm the parasites are no longer present in your pet.

 

IMPORTANT POINTS


Use all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Monitor your pet carefully and have him or her rechecked as directed by your veterinarian.
  • Another stool examination 2-4 weeks after treatment is highly recommended.
  • Clean up stools promptly.

If you have questions about this or any medical topic, please contact your Banfield hospital today.