To continue my creepy blog post about worms today I will be talking all about Hookworms. Hookworms are a lot like roundworms that I did a post on a few days ago. Without further ado here is the down and dirty.
Hookworms can be fatal, especially in puppies. As such, pet owners need to be vigilant for signs of hookworms in their dogs. These blood-sucking parasites can invade, inhabit, and live in the dog’s small intestines. In their fourth-stage larvae, the hookworms can cause anemia and inflammation in the dog’s small intestine. Active worms leave bite sites and those sites continue to seep blood.
A dog with the parasite looks unhealthy and has a poor appetite; the linings of its nostrils, lips, and ears will be pale. If hookworm larvae get into the lungs, the dog will cough, as well as present several other symptoms, including dark and tarry stool, diarrhea, and constipation. Death can come suddenly if the dog is not immediately treated.
How does my pup get Hookworms?
Puppies usually acquire this worm through milk from their mothers. These infestations are always caused by ingestion or by larval penetration of the skin.
This means your dog isn’t going to get it from a mosquito bite like Heartworm, but more like Roundworms where it is in the environment and they eat it or it hitches a ride on their fur and digs its way into our dogs. Now with that being said if our dogs can get it through the environment so can we YES us humans can get them too!!!
Hookworms cannot be seen with the naked eye and must be therefore be microscopically examined by your veterinarian through a stool specimen. This examination will also help the veterinarian determine what course of treatment to prescribe. If some of the puppies in a litter have died, hookworms should be suspected.
To get rid of the worms, a medication that will kill them or expel them will be prescribed. Sometimes that is all that is required. However, nutritional and iron supplementation may be necessary also. Puppies should be put on the worm medication at two weeks of age and continue until weaned and treated monthly after weaning to be sure that all larvae are eliminated. Puppies are much more delicate than older dogs and I would not try to self or home treat hook worms. If you even suspect hook worms be sure to make a vet appointment right away and find out for sure.
With pregnant mommies, treatment should begin two weeks after breeding and continue for two to four weeks after the puppies are born to get rid of possible worms in the intestine, and to protect the puppies.
In severe cases, the dog (or puppy) will need to be hospitalized for fluid therapy, blood transfusion, and supplemental oxygen, depending on the severity of the anemia and the condition of the animal. Be aware, there is a possibility of sudden death even with treatment.
Like stated above hook worms are environmental. If your dog has a shallow pond or any sort of water in their roaming or playing area make sure it is clean. The water and surrounding areas is where these worms live and if it is not ingested by our pups drinking the water they are playing in then these little buggers can hitch a ride in their fur and dig their way through our dogs skin and start their new life in our dogs. The best thing for us parents is knowing what to look for and always looking for it. The quicker we can diagnose the faster they can get treatment and the less long term damage there will be.
The most important thing is to watch your dog!!! Are they acting normal? are they eating? do they look sick? how does their stool look?