According to the website Pets and Parasites, hookworm is an internal parasite that live inside of a dog’s intestinal tract. They survive by attaching themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall and consuming your pet’s blood. When it reproduces, the eggs of a hookworm travel to the digestive tract of your dog and he eliminates them through feces.
Young hookworm, called larvae, hatch from eggs found in fresh soil. Your dog or cat acquires this parasite by digging in the soil or eating them. It is small enough to penetrate through your pet’s skin without her even realizing it is there. A dog can also acquire this parasite by licking her skin and accidentally ingesting the larvae. Although cats can get hookworm as well, it’s much less common since they typically don’t spend as much time outdoors.
How the Hookworm Parasite Affects Your Dog’s Health
Hookworm present a serious threat to a dog’s health since they can cause internal blood loss. The risk is especially great for puppies. In fact, it’s difficult for puppies with hookworm to survive without receiving a blood transfusion. Pregnant or nursing mothers can easily transmit to their puppies.
Adult dogs may have sudden weight loss or diarrhea that you can’t attribute to any other cause. This typically happens when the hookworms have been present for quite some time. Other common symptoms of infestation include:
· Poor appetite
· Pale color to ears, lips, and nostrils
· Persistent cough
· Alternating constipation and diarrhea
If you notice any of these symptoms, please contact Chaska Valley Veterinary Clinic right away for a prompt evaluation.
One important thing you can do to prevent your dog from picking up hookworm is to prevent him from roaming in potentially contaminated areas and keep his immediate surroundings clean. Since hookworm and other worms are common in newborn puppies, Pets and Parasites recommends treatment with de-worming medication at two, four, six, and eight weeks of age. We can provide you with the medication to give to your puppy at home.
Most heartworm prevention products already contain a drug that prevents hookworm from lodging in your dog’s intestinal lining. We recommend bringing your puppy in for regular preventive care several times during the first year. This gives our veterinarians the opportunity to conduct a fecal examination to rule out hookworm infestation. If the puppy’s nursing mother lives with you as well, she should receive treatment at the same time.
Humans can also pick up hookworm from their dog when the parasite falls off the dog and penetrates the skin of a person. This is all the more reason to ensure that your dog has consistent year-round protection from this internal parasite. Please contact us at Chaska Valley Veterinary Clinic if you have additional questions.