Hookworms are common parasites of the small intestine of dogs and cats.
How Hookworms are Transmitted
Dogs can be infected through the ingestion of hookworms’ larvae from contaminated soil or from larvae actively boring through the dog’s skin.
Puppies can also be infected immediately after birth through their mother’s milk.
Understanding the Life Cycle of the Hookworm: The Key to Elimination
Adult hookworms live in the small intestine of dogs, where they lay eggs that are shed in the environment through the dog’s feces. Within weeks, larvae hatch from the eggs, ready to infect the dog. After the infection, larvae start migrating, until they reach their final site, the intestine of the dog, where they develop into adult, egg-laying worms. Some larvae do not reach the gut: they remain encysted in various organs until a stimulus such as pregnancy, reactivates them and leads them to restart migrating, reach the gut and develop to adult worms.
Larvae boring through the skin cause a strong, itchy inflammation; migration through the respiratory system may determine inflammation and cough.
Adult worms attach to the intestinal wall with hook-like teeth and feed on blood and tissues, causing malaise, bloody diarrhea and anemia, which is worsened by their strong inclination to migrate on the internal gut surface, leaving bleeding wounds that are particularly dangerous to puppies.
The presence of 500 worms can cause a 2 kg puppy to lose half its total blood volume in one day and leading it to death.
Treating Hookworm Infection
Since puppies are infected soon after birth, and are continuously reinfected through their mother’s milk or through the environment, it is important to initiate the anthelmintic treatment in their very first weeks of life and to treat them frequently afterwards (e.g. fortnightly or monthly from 2 to 8 weeks of age, then monthly until they are 6 months old). Female dogs should be treated concurrently. This will prevent puppies to develop the disease and to shed worm eggs through the feces, thus avoiding environmental contamination.
Because of the extreme diffusion of hookworms, and the facility in getting the infection, adult dogs should also be treated regularly (e.g. 2-4 times per year).
Many drugs are provided for treatment and prevention. Some of them are also effective against all other common dog worms thus ensuring a complete protection of your pet.
Be sure to give to your pet the one that best satisfy his and your needs, in terms of ease of use, efficacy and safety (especially if very young pups are to be treated).
Hookworm under the microscope.
Learn more about Worm Control in Dogs and Cats from independent Non-profit organisations.
Novartis Animal Health is dedicated to find solutions to the health problems that cats and dogs face.
Used for the prevention of heartworm disease and the control of roundworms, hookworms and whipworms in dogs.
Used for the treatment of mixed infections with roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms, reduction of infection of lungworms and the prevention of heartworm disease in dogs .