Hookworm infection can have a negative impact on dog health. There is also the risk of pet owners becoming infected through contact with their dogs or their droppings. In order to prevent health problems in animals and humans, the regular deworming of dogs or the examination of feces samples is recommended. Find out here how to get rid of hookworms in dogs.
How Common are Hookworms in Dogs?
Hookworms are commonly found in dogs of all ages.
Puppies can be infected with hookworms from their mother while they are still in their womb or through breast milk. Later, a dog becomes infected with hookworms by ingesting worm eggs from the environment that have been excreted by other animals in the feces.
The reason for this: every dog that has hookworms excretes worm eggs with its feces. These “mature” into infectious eggs within a few days. After this maturity, the hookworm eggs are very resistant and can be contagious for months, sometimes even years, and can be carried on almost anywhere by animals, people, earth and water – regardless of visible traces of excrement – and can be ingested there unnoticed by your dog.
Due to the different routes of infection, the risk of worm infection varies depending on the age, husbandry and diet of an animal. So dogs with unattended exercise, which are used for hunting or are kept together with other animals or in kennels, breeding or animal shelters, have a higher risk than animals that are kept individually in the house and have controlled exercise.
How to Tell If Your Dog Has Hookworms
It is often difficult to tell whether a dog has hookworms. Because often adult, otherwise healthy dogs show no or only very subtle symptoms. However, dogs that do not show any symptoms can excrete infectious worm stages and thus represent a source of infection for their surroundings. It is all the more important to take preventive measures.
Possible symptoms of hookworm infection
- Itching around the anus (“scooting“)
- Diarrhea and / or vomiting
- Deficiency symptoms due to nutrient deprivation
- Appetite and weight loss
- Dull fur
- Inflated “worm belly” (with massive infection)
Puppies and immunocompromised dogs often suffer much more severely from hookworm infection.
How to Get Rid of Hookworms in Dogs
If your dog is found to be infected with hookworms, you must treat it against the worms, i.e. carry out deworming.
It is important to choose a worming treatment that works against the existing worm species. You can find out which worms your dog has and which worming treatment is effective in your veterinary practice.
If you have given the wormer, it works for around 24 hours. The hookworms in your dog’s intestines are killed and excreted. Usually a single treatment is enough to stop worm infection. In the event of a severe infection or if you want to be on the safe side, you can have a check-up (fecal examination) in the veterinary practice around 4 weeks after the treatment and / or, if necessary, a second treatment can follow.
How to get rid of hookworms in dogs naturally at home
In order to get rid of worm infection in dogs in a natural way, some dog owners resort to so-called ‘home remedies”. Again and again you come across ‘home remedies’ such as coconut oil, onions or garlic. However, what is well-intentioned can harm dogs and lead to allergies or poisoning. In addition, no scientific findings are yet available for the effectiveness of such ‘home remedies’.
The best and safest protection is therefore offered by preparations specially approved for dogs. Let your veterinarian advise you which product is best for your dog.
However, your veterinarian will likely recommend a chemical dewormer. Powerful pesticides can result in a range of negative side effects on your pet, especially if used repetitively. Since veterinary deworming rarely results in the worms being gone for good, it is likely that your pet will need to be dewormed multiple times using multiple pesticides in order for you to be confident the worms, and symptoms of dog worms, are truly gone.
Thankfully, there is a natural solution to eliminate the symptoms of dog worms and cat worms and stop their return. A number of legendary, natural herbs have been used for millennia to kill worms and internal parasites without harming humans or animals. The proper combination of these herbs proves lethal to parasites but harmless to our pets. One example of this is the FourGuard Herbal Parasite Formula:
Made of Gentian Root, Black Walnut Hulls, Cloves, and Papaya Leaf that have been used for millennia to kill and flush out worms and internal parasites safely and gently. These herbs can be used over the entire course if your pet’s life to control worms continuously without damage to your pet and without causing negative side effects.
How to treat hookworms in puppies
Puppies generally have a high risk of getting infected with hookworms very early on. Infection can occur before birth in the uterus or after birth through ingestion of breast milk. The hookworms can damage the dog’s stomach and intestines and lead to problems such as diarrhea, vomiting or impaired utilization of nutrients, especially in puppies and young dogs. The consequences can be stunted growth, dull fur, flaky skin and other deficiency diseases. If the infestation is very severe, the affected puppies can even die.
For this reason, puppies should be treated for the first time against hookworms at the age of two weeks using a suitable preparation. This treatment should be repeated every two weeks to about two weeks after the puppies have been weaned from breast milk. Because hookworms can cause anemia (decreased numbers of red blood cells), puppies with severe infections may need electrolyte fluids, iron supplements, and blood transfusions.
Following treatment, you should take preventative measures to prevent hookworms from reoccurring. Read further to learn how to prevent hookworms in dogs.
How to Prevent Hookworms in Dogs
Unfortunately, there is no way you can safely prevent your dog from contracting hookworms. However, there are effective measures to reduce the risk, to protect your dog from damage by the parasites and to contain the risk of infection for yourself and other people.
Remove pet feces from yard quickly and dispose of properly. If you have a sandbox for your children’s recreation, keep it covered when the children are not playing in it. If possible, keep dogs on a leash to prevent hunting prey that may be infected with hookworm larvae.
Regular fecal examinations and / or deworming are also important. Which methods and distances make sense for your animal depends on its individual requirements, e.g. the form of exercise, the diet or the contact with other dogs.
Most dogs are well advised to do one of the following:
- Dogs that have exercise and contact with other dogs under supervision, are not used for hunting and do not eat prey: fecal examination or deworming every three months (4 times a year)
- Dogs that have free exercise and contact with other dogs without supervision, are used for hunting or eat prey: fecal examination or deworming every 4 weeks (once a month)
Whether fecal examinations or deworming are carried out is an individual decision. Fecal examinations are a good alternative to wormer treatments in most cases. However, this does not reliably prevent infectious worm eggs from being excreted over several weeks between the examinations.
It is also important that the fecal examinations are carried out regularly (as often as the recommended deworming). If worm eggs are found in a sample of feces, it is certain that the dog has worms. If, on the other hand, the result of the investigation is negative, i.e. no worm eggs are found, this may be a coincidence and is due to the fact that this individual sample did not contain any eggs. The dog can therefore have worms despite a negative test result.
Important: This article is for informational purposes only. We always recommend that you go to a trusted vet with your pet first.