Hookworms (Ancylostoma) are relatively common intestinal parasites of dogs, cats, and other animals. Adult worms live in the small intestine, and their eggs pass out with the stool. Diagnosis is by identifying the eggs during a microscopic examination of the stool.
Animals become infected with hookworms by eating infective eggs or larvae, penetration of the skin or footpads by larvae, or transmission of larvae from the mother while still in the uterus or through the milk during nursing. The time from consumption of infective larvae to the appearance of eggs in the stool is 15 to 26 days.
Hookworms are one of the most serious intestinal parasites, as they feed on the blood of their host animal and can cause severe anemia. In young, weak or malnourished animals, hookworms can cause sudden collapse and death. Older, more resistant dogs may suffer a slow, progressive, wasting disease. Weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and tarry or bloody stools frequently occur in animals with hookworms.
Public Health Significance
Hookworm larvae can penetrate human skin and cause a skin disorder known as cutaneous larval migrans or creeping eruption. This infection is not common, but anyone who develops a skin rash after being in contact with a pet with hookworms should consult a physician.
How Common Are They?
- Hookworms in Cats
- 1 in 56 cats tested positive for hookworms
- 22.35% of all positive cases of hookworms in Ohio were in Cuyahoga County.
- Hookworms in Dogs
- 1 in 43 dogs tested positive for hookworms
- 2.5% of all positive cases of hookworms in Ohio were in Cuyahoga County.
Important Points in Treatment
1. Treatment consists of eliminating the worms and correcting any anemia and malnutrition. Hospital treatment may be required in severe infections.
2. Medication must be given as directed. Call the doctor if you cannot give the medication as directed.
1. Good sanitation is essential. Promptly remove all stools from the area where your pet is confined.
2. Regular microscopic stool examinations are the best means of early detection of hookworm problems. Your pet's stool should be checked every 6 months.
3. Products are available for treating contaminated dog pens, runs, and tie-out areas.
My pet has worms. Can my family and I also get worms? What should I do?