There are four ways your dog can get hookworms and require treatment:
- Through the mouth by eating or smelling another dogs feces
- Through the skin
- In a puppy: via the mother through the placenta
- In a puppy: from the mother's milk
Since hookworms can enter through the skin, they can enter through a dog's feet if they are walking on an infected area.
Symptoms of Canine Hookworms
If your dog is listless or tired, it may be an indication of hookworms due to anemia (loss of red blood cells). The most common sign of anemia are gums that do not have a nice pink color.
Other symptoms include bloody diarrhea, weight loss and a dog that is not growing as expected. Because hookworm larvae burrow into the skin, your dog may also itch itself more often than normal.
Diagnosis of Hookworm in Dogs
Hookworms are diagnosed by examining stool samples using a microscope. One worm can produce as many as 20,000 eggs per day.
Hookworm treatments only kill adult worms. To remove all the hookworms, your dog may need several treatments. Treatments are given either via injection or orally, and are considered to be safe.
- Champion Worm Protector from Agrilabs
- RFD Liquid Wormer
- Nemix tablets from Pfizer
- Drontal Plus by Bayer
If your dog is anemic, they may also need a blood infusion.
Heartgard and Sentinal are good dewormers for the treatment of hookworms in dogs and work to prevent future outbreaks. If you live in a southeastern or Gulf Coast state, then using a preventative is a good idea. You can also purchase treatments for your lawn that are effective in removing hookworms from your dog's environment.
For the treatment of hookworms in pregnant dogs, daily treatment with fenbenddazole from the 40th day to the 14th day of breast feeding can prevent or reduce infection in puppies. An alternative treatment is to use the drugs invermectin or selamectin.
At minimum, puppies should be treated at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age.
Some owners supplement the dewormers with natural herbal supplements that are designed to help your dog resist parasites such as worms. A good source to explore is PetAlive Parasite Dr. Capsules to Naturally Expel Internal Parasites.
Removing Hookworm from Your Dog's Environment
A prevention program for treatment for hookworms in dogs includes removing the threat of worms from outdoor areas where your dog lives.
- Every day, or at least every week, remove feces from the outdoor area where it accumulates. Place feces in a bag and throw out in the trash or flush in a toilet.
- For hookworm larvae removal, metal or concrete surfaces will have to be decontaminated with bleach or ammonia. Use a a 1% bleach solution (sodium hypochlorite). This approach will cause the larvae to shed their protective sheath and become subject to dehydration and other environmental factors. Flaming surfaces also kills the larvae.
- Soil or gravel should kill larvae by using heat or sodium borate (at 10 lbs/100 sq ft) to kill larvae. Note that any plants that come in contact with the sodium borate will be killed as well.
According to the University of Florida, effective treatments for the control of hookworm include: the use of salt brine (1.5 lb common salt per gallon of water applied at 1 pt per sq ft) or borax, for bare ground, gravel, or concrete. There is no known product that is both effective for control of infective hookworm larvae on/in living turf or other plants, and safe for plants.
Following these steps should remove the threat of needing repeat treatment for hookworms in dogs.
Transmitting Hookworms from Dogs to Humans
It is rare for a human to get a hookworm infection since we are not their natural hosts. Humans contract hookworms when their skin touches hookworm larvae in warm, moist soil or sand (most common in sunbathers, children who play in sandboxes, plumbers, electricians, outdoor workers). Most common areas to be infected include bare feet, legs, buttocks and the back.
The condition is usually not harmful and will disappear on its own as the larvae die off.
The hookworm larvae enter the skin and create a narrow track which becomes red and itchy.
For children, the best way to prevent hookworm is to keep away from unprotected sandboxes. Once a sandbox or soil is contaminated it can remain that way for years.
Managing Hookworms in the Landscape
Robert A. Dunn and Ellis C. Greiner