Hookworms in Puppies: Symptoms and Prevention

Shar-Pei Pitbull Puppy Laying on Couch

Puppy hookworms are a common intestinal parasite. They suck blood or take bites out of the dog's small intestinal wall, which can result in serious bleeding, depending on the species.

Hookworms may affect any dog, but pups are more vulnerable since they lack the worm immunity that older dogs possess. Veterinary treatment is still necessary since hookworms are toxic to dogs and may quickly spread in the environment and even to people. Immunity does not eliminate all parasites, but it does assist to reduce their effects.

Incidence of Hookworms

Hookworms impact dogs in a variety of ways. The most common is Ancylostoma caninum, which grows in warm areas with Ancylostoma braziliense. Uncinaria stenocephala, which is widespread in cold areas, may also afflict dogs. The illness is more common in southern areas, where increased humidity and temperatures offer an excellent habitat for the parasite to thrive.

Lifecycle of Hookworms

Hookworms are roughly a half-inch long as adults. Females deposit eggs that are passed in the feces after they mate within the pup's gut. In approximately a week, the eggs hatch, and infectious larvae develop in the environment. Larvae may survive for two months in warm, humid environments. They prefer sandy soil, but will occasionally crawl into grass in search of a host.

How Puppies Catch Hookworms

Dogs can become infected in a variety of ways. Puppies may eat larvae off the ground or dung. Swallowing the parasite after smelling or licking it is the most usual way. Larvae can also penetrate the dog's skin directly, generally through the footpads. Infectious hookworm larvae can penetrate human skin, creating cutaneous larval migrans, which are tiny, red irritating trails left by migrating larvae in the skin. Eating an infested mouse or cockroach can potentially infect dogs.

The juvenile worms travel into the circulation, via the lungs, and into the gut where they develop in approximately two weeks after being ingested or entering the skin. The larvae may never reach the lungs as the dog ages and develops immunity to the parasite, instead remaining in numerous tissues throughout the body in an arrested state.

When a dog becomes pregnant, the worms travel to the mammary glands and infect puppies shortly after delivery. Tissue-infesting larvae may "leak" back into circulation, develop, and reproduce in males and non-pregnant females.

Signs of Hookworms

Hookworms induce by causing blood loss. Pale gums, weakness, poor development, and weight loss are all symptoms of anemia. When pups are initially exposed to hookworms, they have no natural defenses and can be swiftly overwhelmed by a vast infestation. Acute hookworm illness appears abruptly, and these pups may have crimson to black tar-like diarrhea in addition to indicators of significant anemia. A strong infestation might result in death or collapse.

Chronic or persistent illnesses are more common in adult dogs. Chronic hookworm infections are common in some breeds, such as greyhounds, and can go undetected. Dogs who are anxious, hungry, or live in an area where hookworm is prevalent are the most vulnerable. Chronic infection is usually accompanied by moderate diarrhea or vomiting, but it can be fatal in dogs with compromised immunity. Animals who are critically unwell or anemic will require hospitalization.

Diagnosing Hookworms

Hookworms are identified by discovering eggs in the feces under a microscope. If the worms are too immature to reproduce, young puppies may get acute illness even if no eggs are present.

Treatment and Complications

Hookworm infections can be treated with a variety of medicines and pharmacological combinations. Adult worms and mature larvae are killed by medications, however larvae in halted development in other tissues may not be cleared. It's critical to treat your puppy according to your veterinarian's recommendations to ensure that all worms are removed.

Hookworm dermatitis can occur at the site of skin penetration in elderly dogs that have been exposed to the parasite for a long period. Hookworm pododermatitis is a condition that most usually affects the footpads. The feet of the dog become uncomfortable, swollen, heated, and mushy and spongy. The footpads may separate, the may grow malformed, and the pads may become dry, thick, and cracked if not treated. Treatment is similar to that for intestinal infection, with a few additional stages.

Preventing Hookworms

Hookworm illness can only be prevented by avoiding allowing children to catch hookworms in the first place, which might be challenging in some cases. You can help manage hookworms by taking monthly prevention as prescribed by your veterinarian. Otherwise, female dogs who are to be bred should be treated with worm treatment as advised by their veterinarian to assist prevent the transmission of larvae to puppies.

All pups should be taken to the veterinarian as soon as possible and dewormed at the veterinarian's discretion. It's also crucial to check pups' feces samples on a regular basis. Deworming is typically necessary in pups even if a fecal sample does not indicate hookworms since not every fecal sample will show worm eggs.

The importance of excellent cleanliness in avoiding hookworm infection cannot be overstated. To assist limit larval transfer to the environment, clean up feces from the yard as soon as possible. Keep kennel spaces dry and tidy since outside exposure is most dangerous in wet, shady places.

Direct sunlight will assist to reduce the number of worms in the environment. Application of rock salt or borax to gravel or sandy streams may help to kill the larvae, but these compounds also damage vegetation.


"Gastrointestinal Parasites of Dogs. Merck Veterinary Manual" ;