Hookworms are defined as parasitic organisms that feed off a host in order to survive. Hookworms are internal parasites, which mean they grow, mature, and live inside a dog’s body.
What are Hookworms?
We all love our pet dogs, and want the best for them.
However, it is not possible to watch them 24 hours a day, and we definitely can’t keep an eye on what every is doing.
So occasionally our beloved pet may pick up a parasite.
Parasites in dogs can be picked up from many places, so it is no use keeping the dog locked up all of the time.
The best way to treat your dog is to groom it on a regular basis, and keep an eye on its overall health.
If you notice any changes in its behavior or stools, then seek advice with a vet.
Hookworms can grow in number incredibly fast, since a female hookworm usually lays at least 20,00 eggs per day.
Hookworms have a round mouth, which includes several teeth.
These teeth are used to attach to the inside of a dog’s body, which is most likely located in the intestines.
The intestinal wall usually harbors the adult hookworms, which lay their eggs in order to pass them on into the fecal material.
What Types of Dogs Can Become Infected with Hookworms?
Hookworms can infest any type of dog, and are not breed-specific.
However, it has been noticed by veterinarians that puppies are much more likely to become infected with hookworms, usually before they are one year of age.
This could possibly be because puppies have an underdeveloped immune system.
Adult dogs may become infected with hookworms as well, usually by direct contact with hookworm eggs (through ingestion) or larvae (which enter through a dog’s skin).
Hookworms are more commonly seen in dogs that are in close contact with other dogs on a regular basis.
This is why dogs in kennels are more prone to developing hookworms, since there is a greater likelyhood that they will come in contact with another infected dog.
Do Hookworms Only Infect Dogs?
There are some species of hookworms that are more likely to infect certain types of animals.
Some of the hookworms that infect dogs may also infect cats, birds, cows, chickens, or other animals.
However, some hookworms may also infect humans.
Even though it is rare for a dog to transfer hookworms to a human, it is very important to exercise extreme caution.
If your dog is infected with hookworms, try to keep them from coming into contact with other dogs, to lessen the risk of infection.
It may also be wise to prevent your dog from coming into contact with any other household pets you may have, since some hookworms may infect other animals as well.
What Can I Do to Prevent a Hookworm Infection in My Dog?
The best way to prevent a hookworm infection in your dog is to keep your dog from coming into contact with infected animals.
Try to avoid leaving your dog in a dog kennel that does not have good hygienic standards, since this could possibly lead to hookworm infection from other infected dogs.
Types, Life Cycle and Method of Infection for Hookworms in Dogs
The medical condition caused by a dog being infested with hookworms, is actually caused by a parasitic infection.
Parasites are organisms that thrive by feeding off a “host”, from which they steal nutrients, food, blood, or other substances.
Some parasites are external (such as ticks and lice), while some parasites are internal ( such as hookworms and tapeworms).
Since hookworms are an internal parasite, they habitat inside a host’s body in order to obtain nutrition.
Internal parasites are more difficult to treat than external parasites, since it’s harder to discern when the parasitic infection has been completely eradicated.
There are three species of hookworms that can possibly infect dogs:
- Ancylostoma caninum
- Ancylostoma braziliense
- Uncinaria stenocephala
Out of these three species, Ancylostoma caninum is by far the most common hookworm to infect dogs.
All of these species of hookworm undergo a similar life cycle, which is defined by the method by which a dog becomes infected with hookworms.
How Dogs Get Infected With Hookworms?
First, an adult hookworm in a host organism begins to lay eggs.
Since adult hookworms usually reside in the small intestine, these eggs are passed into the fecal matter of the host.
Once the egg-infested feces exit the host, the eggs hatch into larvae.
These larvae then seek to infect new hosts, usually by either penetrating the skin of a host, or by being ingested by a potential host.
In most dogs, hookworms penetrate a dog’s body through the feet, when a dog passes by their location.
Once the larvae enter a dog’s body, they then seek to find a place to mature.
Some larvae migrate directly to the intestinal area, while some larvae seek to reside in a dog’s lungs (in which case, a dog will develop symptoms such as severe coughing).
Any larvae in the lungs are usually swallowed by a dog, in which case they mature into adults in the intestines.
It is possible for a hookworm larvae to lie dormant prior to maturation, and only mature after a long period of time.
In most cases, the time from a hookworm infection in a dog to the maturation of adult worms, is fourteen days.
If a dog comes into contact with another dog that is infected with hookworms, this is not necessarily enough for direct transmission of hookworm larvae to occur.
However, it is very possible that dogs in close contact will transmit parasitic organisms, especially in closed-quarter environments.
This is most commonly seen in animal shelters, kennels, and other areas where many dogs are in close contact with one another.
Symptoms of Hookworms in Dogs
Most dogs with Hookworms will display several key symptoms.
However, most of the symptoms of hookworms are relatively general, and are not specifically unique to a hookworm infestation.
As a result, it is important to schedule a veterinary checkup as soon as your dog begins to display any adverse health-related symptoms, so that a proper diagnosis can be obtained.
Though this is not always the case, it is possible for a dog with hookworms to begin coughing incessantly.
The reason for this symptom is that hookworms will occasionally travel into a dog’s lungs (instead of remaining attached to the intestinal area).
It is possible for a dog with hookworms to have serious complications, if the hookworms migrate into the lungs.
In any case, severe coughing is an indication that something is wrong, so it’s advised to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
Hookworms get their primary source of sustenance from a dog’s blood.
As a result, a dog with a serious hookworm infestation will most likely develop anemia.
A dog with anemia will most likely display several secondary symptoms, including lethargy, depression, and a pale, yellowish tint to the mucous membranes.
There are other medical conditions that will also cause a dog to display anemic symptoms, so it’s always important to seek the advice of a veterinarian immediately.
Most dogs with a hookworm infestation will display gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting.
This is because hookworms, like many other parasites, have negative effects on a dog’s gastrointestinal tract.
Since gastrointestinal symptoms are seen in dogs with other medical conditions, this symptom is not unique to a hookworm infection.
However, it is possible that constant diarrhea and vomiting will have potentially serious effects on your dog’s heath, if not attended to immediately.
Hookworms are commonly seen in puppies, where the effects of malnutrition are much more noticeable.
In puppies, stunted, slow growth is a sure sign that they are suffering from malnutrition, possibly from a hookworm infestation.
In adult dogs, the effects of malnutrition may take slightly longer to be displayed.
Malnutrition can cause other secondary symptoms, such as weight loss, lethargy, hair loss, dull fur and distended abdomen.
Malnutrition, in severe cases, can cause other serious complications.
If your dog seems to be displaying any of the symptoms of malnutrition, it is very important that you seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
Diagnosis of Hookworms in Dogs
When a dog is infected with hookworms, it is not always obvious to a veterinarian or pet owner that this is the cause of the displayed symptoms.
Since the symptoms of a hookworm infection are relatively general, they may also be indicative of other unrelated medical condition.
In addition to this, many other parasitic infections may cause similar symptoms to those of a hookworm infection.
To obtain a positive diagnosis for a hookworm infection, a veterinarian will have to perform several different diagnostic procedures in order to ascertain if a dog is infested with hookworms.
This is an integral part of every veterinary appointment, but it is still very important for helping a veterinarian to discern the nature of a dog’s health problem.
This general examination usually includes a temperature reading, facial-area inspection (eyes, ears, nose, mouth), reflex test, examination of the fur, paws, genitals and any other area that a veterinarian wishes to examine.
This may seem like a general procedure, but it may help a veterinarian to better understand the general impact of a medical condition on a dog’s overall health.
In the instance of a hookworm infection, the patient history becomes extremely important.
A veterinarian will attempt to obtain information about a dog’s habits, experiences, frequently visited areas, behavioral changes, and other related topics.
Since hookworms are primarily transmitted by exposure, it is very important to tell your veterinarian if your dog has recently been in contact with other animals that may have been infected with hookworms.
It is very important to be honest, since your veterinarian will be using this information to help them obtain a positive diagnosis.
If a veterinarian suspects that your dog has been infected with hookworms, a fecal flotation test will most likely be performed.
This test is very important for helping a veterinarian to identify any hookworm eggs that may be present in your dog’s feces.
It’s essential to obtain a fresh stool sample for this test, as this will provide more definitive results.
A female hookworm may lay around 20,000 eggs in a single day, so the fecal flotation test will usually produce positive results if a dog has been infected.
However, in dogs with advanced hookworm infections, female hookworms may not be producing as many eggs in order to maintain the current population.
In this case, more than one fecal flotation test may need to be performed.
Treatment for Hookworms in Dogs
Most of the current treatment options for hookworms in dogs that are available today, are only effective in killing adult hookworms.
Because of this, it is very important that treatment be continued for a set period of time, depending on the veterinary instructions.
In some severe cases, supplemental treatment must be performed in order to treat the symptoms of a hookworm infection, before measures are taken to eradicate the adult hookworms.
In some severe cases of hookworm infestations, especially in puppies, a blood transfusion must be performed before anti-worming treatment is initiated.
A hookworm infection may cause moderate to severe anemia, which is more likely to negatively impact puppies and younger dogs at early stages.
To treat the anemic condition of a dog infected with hookworms, it may be necessary for a veterinarian to perform a blood transfusion.
However, this treatment is only used in very severe cases, or if a dog’s life is in immediate danger.
The drug known as Fenbendazole is also marketed under the brand-name Panacur.
This drug is used in many different parasitic infections, such as hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and whipworms.
In some cases, this medication may also be used to treat medical conditions such as giardia, or “flukes”.
Like all anti-hookworm medications, Fenbendazole must be repeated more than once (as a treatment), in order to ensure that all of the adult worms present in a dog’s system are eradicated.
Side effects are relatively rare, but may be seen in some dogs.
This drug is commonly used to treat both hookworms (all of the species) and roundworms in domesticated animals.
This deworming agent is made with a combination of pamoic acid and pyrantel.
It is sometimes combined with other anti-worming medications, in order to ensure maximum effectiveness.
It is usually administered orally, and is marketed by some companies as a flavored, chewable tablet.
Like other anti-worming medications, Pyrantel Pamoate must be repeated at least twice, in order to completely eradicate all adult worms.
This medication acts as a paralyzing agent, though only affects the hookworms in a dog’s intestines.
Since the drug is not absorbed by a dog’s system, it does not commonly have adverse paralyzing effects on a dog’s internal organs.
Once the worms are paralyzed, they are no longer to remain attached to a dog’s intestinal wall.
When this occurs, the worms are passed through the intestines, and expelled with fecal material.
If this process is repeated as all adult worms mature, it is very effective in treating a hookworm infection.
Hookworms in dogs is a serious problem as it can be fatal particularly in the puppies.
Hookworms seem like small and thin worms which can be up to one inch in length.
So the people having pets must be aware of the symptoms for the healthy life of their dogs.
However, as we say that the prevention is better than the cure. So there are some steps which must be taken to help the eradication of the hookworms from the bodies of the dogs or the puppies.
The environment of the puppies must be neat and clean with regard to the hygienic conditions.
Puppies or dogs must be fed with the clean drinking water as water is the major source for the contamination.
You must immediately consult a veterinarian if you notice some symptom as in early stages it can be easily cured.