Hookworms are one of the most dangerous parasitic worms. Even though the symptoms of worms in dogs are normally elusive, it needs to be understood that hookworm infestation can cause life threatening anemia to puppies even before the eggs can be noticed in the stools. Some species of hookworms attach themselves to the small intestines and bite off pieces of the intestinal wall which causes bleeding.
Controlling hookworms properly does not only involve basic de-worming drugs like antihelminthics. If the process has to be completed successfully, then a series of steps needs to be taken to ensure proper eradication. Understanding the characteristics of the hookworm is essential for proper removal.
Hookworm eggs differ from the eggs of other worms in dogs in at least two ways:
- Unlike roundworm eggs that can bear the vagaries of environmental hazards, hookworm eggs require a typical climate to survive.
- Whereas dog roundworms and dog tapeworms must necessarily be ingested for infection to occur, hookworms can penetrate through the skin tissue.
Hookworms can be transmitted through ingestion, penetration through the skin tissues and through the breast milk of a lactating mother to the puppies. Once inside the dog’s body, hookworms find their way to the small intestine where they "hook" themselves to the intestinal walls.
Some of the measures that you can take for prevention and treatment are discussed below.
Young puppies and bitches that have delivered should be de-wormed for hookworms at periodic, weekly intervals.
Veterinary medications for hookworms, however, are only a small part of the treatment of this menace. The major threat lies hidden in the environment – particularly in the yard, kennel or the playground where children play.
Canine and feline parasites are not totally destroyed on administration of de-worming drugs like antihelminthics. They have an inherent property of surviving for long periods in the environment. If you want to address the issue of hookworms, then a concentrated effort is required. The prevention of hookworm involves de-worming, cleaning the infected areas and training.
Hookworm eggs are deposited in the feces. Some species of hookworms have been observed to emerge out from feces after four weeks, even in inhospitable environments. It is this part of the lifecycle of hookworms that needs special attention. Feces should be removed daily so that the dormant hookworm eggs can be removed from the areas where humans and pets spend time.
Hookworm eggs or young hookworms thrive in moist soil and cannot survive in dry conditions and high temperatures. Usually the most commonly used lounging area for household pets is among foliage of turf grass and other plants. This is an ideal place for the hookworm eggs, and the environment is very conducive to hookworm development.
Training your puppy to defecate at a designated place is helpful in careful removal of the feces. Choose a place in the yard where there is at least two hours of sunlight every day. This will not only limit the area required for cleaning, but it will also inhibit maturation of hookworm eggs.
Other than trying to prevent hookworm in your pets, you also need to be careful about the possibility of a human infection. Hookworms can penetrate human skin. Typically this can happen if you walk barefoot on the grass or the outside areas. Be sure that you have your shoes on while walking in areas likely to be contaminated with pet feces.