Hookworms (Ancylostomiasis) in Dogs

If you are a dog owner, you need to be on the lookout for hookworms. These can be fatal for your dog, especially puppies. The hookworm parasites make their way into the small intestines, sucking blood and causing pain as they go. The problems get worse as the larvae reach the fourth stage, causing anemia and inflammation in the intestine of your dog. Blood will continually seep from the areas where the worms have been active and biting.

SYMPTOMS

The first thing you will notice in your dog is that he is loses his appetite and appears unhealthy. Also the ears, lips and nostril linings will look pale. Hookworms will often make their way into the lungs, which will result in your dog developing a cough. Other symptoms to look for include tarry, dark stool, diarrhea, and constipation. Failure to treat these symptoms can mean a quick death for your pet.

CAUSES

It is mother’s milk that often leads to puppies getting hookworms. The worms often come from contaminated water sources and enter via larval penetration of the skin or ingestion.

DIAGNOSIS

You will not be able to see the hookworms with the naked eye, which means a veterinarian will have to diagnose them microscopically via a stool sample. Once the diagnosis has been made, the vet can then decide the best course of treatment. If you find that one or more puppies in the litter have already died, it may be hookworms that were the cause.

TREATMENT

Vets will prescribe medication that will either kill or expel the worms. Oftentimes that is enough to take care of the issue, but iron and nutritional supplements may also need to be added to the treatment process. Worm medication should be administered to puppies when they are two weeks old and should continue until they have been weaned. Even then, monthly treatments should continue until all the larvae have been expelled.

Pregnant dogs should be administered treatment two weeks after breeding, with treatment continuing for 2-4 weeks after the puppies are born. This is usually enough to protect the puppies and get rid of any larvae in the intestine.

Depending on the condition of the dog and the severity of the issue, they may have to be hospitalized to receive further treatment. That could be anything from fluid therapy to a blood transfusion and/or supplemental oxygen. Even with the best treatment, sudden death can still occur.

PREVENTION

Keeping all areas clean that your dog inhabits is essential. Pay special attention to their drinking bowls and other areas where water accumulates. If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms in your dog, make sure that he sees a vet ASAP.

Inoculations for hookworms are not available, which means you really need to be vigilant at all times and act quickly when you spot potential symptoms. While hookworm cases in humans are rare, the parasites can get in through the skin, which means you need to be careful when treating your pet.