Understanding hookworm in dogs
Hookworms are unpleasant parasites that can live inside your dog’s intestine. While they usually only cause mild symptoms in adult animals, they can be much more serious in younger dogs.
Once inside your dog they ‘hook’ themselves onto the wall of your pet’s digestive system and feed on its blood, leaving small ulcers where they’ve been attached with the potential to cause blood loss.
Infected dogs pass hookworm eggs out with their poo, which hatch into larvae (immature hookworms). Dogs become infected if they swallow these larvae which can happen when they’re rummaging around outside. Once a dog has swallowed hookworm larvae they grow into adult hookworms and latch onto your dog’s gut to feed and lay new eggs, starting the cycle all over again. Hookworm larvae can even burrow into your dog’s paws as it walks around, causing inflamed and sore skin between the toes.
Adult dogs can become infected with hookworms, but the parasite can be much more serious in puppies. In some parts of the world, hookworms can pass from pregnant females to their puppies, though this is not a problem with the most common hookworm found in the UK.
Symptoms of hookworm can include anaemia, fatigue, weight loss and diarrhoea. Your vet can make a diagnosis by looking for hookworm eggs from a faecal sample from your dog.
Cleaning up your dog’s faeces will help to reduce contamination in your garden or local park of not just hookworm larvae but also the larvae and eggs of other dog parasites.
Using a worming treatment such as Drontal will kill all types of intestinal worm found in UK dogs, including the common UK hookworm Uncinaria stenocephala. It’s recommended that adult dogs are wormed at least every three months.
Did you know…
Hookworm can also affect humans; the larvae in the soil can burrow into our skin if we’re barefoot, causing irritation in the soles of our feet.
For more information on effective worming treatments for dogs, click here.