Hookworm Information and Treatment
Tags: Worms, Dogs, Medicine, Treatment, Puppies, Prevention, Roundworm
A canine hookworm showing a close up of its pair of teeth used to affix itself to the intestinal wall.
Information on Hookworms in Dogs
Hookworms (A. caninum, A. braziliense) are one of the most prevalent worms found in dogs affecting upwards of 20% of adult dogs. Adult Dogs can become affected by ingesting the larvae from contaminated soil or water, by eating another host animal or by the larvae penetrating the skin. Similar to roundworms, these parasites can be transmitted to puppies by their mother through her placenta and from her breast milk.
Hookworms also affect cats and Humans. They have teeth which are used to grab hold of the intestinal wall and feed on the blood of the host animal. If the host is a puppy and infection is bad enough, the worms can suck enough blood to be lethal.
See also related worm information:
The infected flea is often caught feeding on a dog by getting licked and swallowed. As the flea is digested, the tapeworm then finds its way back to the intestine and the cycle continues. It’s important to recognize that the flea is needed to complete the tapeworms development cycle and without a flea infestation, the tapeworm eggs cannot mature and will die off. Fleas are not the only means of transmission however. Your dog can be infected by eating other infected animals.
Hobo at one year of age.
Lifecycle of the Hookworm
The lifecycle of a hookworm begins with a mating pair of parasites inside the host animal’s intestine. The eggs then get released and pass through with the feces. Once out of the animal, these feces will go through 3 stages of development, first as egg, then as hatchling, then as larvae, a process taking about 5 days. It’s at this larvae stage when the hookworm becomes infective once again. The larvae will lie in wait for the new host to come by and pick it up.
Once in the new host, some hookworms will burrow themselves back to the intestine to complete its development. Others follow a different path and travel from the intestine to the lung tissue where they mature to their 4th stage of development. From here, they break out of the tissue and ascend up the trachea causing the animal to cough the worm up. It is then swallowed where the worm will burrow back to the intestine to complete its maturity.
If the canine or host animal is pregnant, the larvae will not follow the path to the lungs to be coughed up, but instead the hormones in the female dog will redirect the larvae to move through the placenta infecting the unborn puppies or through the mammary glands to infecting the nursing puppies.
Signs of Hookworm
This parasite feeding on a host’s blood can quickly cause anemia (abnormally low red blood cells). Signs of anemia as a result of hookworm disease are emaciation (extreme weight loss), pale gums and weakness.
Prevention and Treatment for Hookworms
Regular deworming is recommended as the same medication that treats or kills the hookworms in its various stages is also nicely suited to ensure that when your canine companion gets contaminated, the parasites are killed on the spot. Popular treatments are listed below.
Preventing hookworms are also done through the use of plain old common sense. Maintain hygiene in and around your home by disposing of feces, washing hands regularly and keep your dog clean. Don’t take your dog to unsanitary dog parks and make sure any meat your dog eats is well cooked. Keep kennels clean and dry. Using bleach when mopping will kill the larvae.
Treatment is highly important as hookworm can also affect humans. Annual deworming and checkups are recommended for adult dogs. Puppies usually have already been treated for worms by the breeder or handler before finding their new homes. It is smart to obtain the deworming history before accepting a new pet.
Medicine for Hookworms
Some of the available dewormers to treat hookworm
Nemex ®, Drontal ®, or Strongid T ® contain Pyrantel pamoate , an effective ingredient for deworming hookworms. Mebendazole ® and Fenbendazole ® are also commonly used to treat hookworm and are effective treatements. These products are absorbed in the GI tract killing all the hookworms residing there. A second treatment is performed 30 days later, this time to kill those hookworms that were still in migration. Talk to your vet before deworming as these products also treat for other parasites that may have different treatment procedures.
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