Hookworms are the intestinal parasites that commonly affect cats, dogs, mammals, and human beings. Hookworms are about 2-3 mm in size and are barely visible from the naked eye. Despite their small size, they ingest suck a large amount of blood from the body of the host. They cause inflammation in the intestines and can cause anemia if left untreated. Anemia is very common in puppies, but can also occur in dogs as well.
Warm and moist environments are favorable for the growth of hookworms. Poor sanitary conditions and overcrowding contribute to the infection.
How do dogs catch the infection?
The parasite enters the body of the host animal via one of the following routes:
2. Intradermal (through the skin)
3. From mother to baby during pregnancy
4. Through breast milk
Female hookworms lay eggs within the intestines of the host animal. The eggs are passed in the feces and contaminate the environment. Larvae hatch from these eggs and can survive in the soil for several months. Ingested larvae move to the intestines to complete their life cycle. A few of them make their way to the trachea and are then removed by coughing or sneezing. The larvae may also burrow in the skin of dogs or cats.
Symptoms of hookworm infection in cats and dogs:
The carrier organism may appear healthy without any symptoms if the parasitic load is low. The symptoms usually appear when the parasitic loads become high and the parasite attacks neighboring organs. Common symptoms of the infection include:
· Abdominal pain and cramps
· Abdominal discomfort
· Excessive crying in infants
· Intestinal cramps
· Mild fever
· Blood in stool
· Loss of appetite
· Nostrils, lips, and ears become pale
· Dark and tarry stools
· Skin irritation especially of paws
It is very common for young puppies to die from hookworm infection.
hookworm infection is diagnosed in cats and dogs through a laboratory examination.
If you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms in your pet animal, you should immediately consult a Veterinary doctor. Hookworms are generally diagnosed by a microscopic examination of a stool sample by a technique called fecal flotation. The stool is mixed with a solution that causes the parasitic eggs to float on the surface of the solution or adhere to the glass slide. The eggs have a unique appearance and are easily detectable.
Hookworms are diagnosed by microscopic examination of the stool sample.
The larva takes 2-3 weeks to get mature and produce eggs. Therefore, a fecal examination is less reliable in very young puppies. Adult hookworms are small in size and adhere firmly to the walls of the intestinal mucosa, which is why they are rarely detected in stool.
Antigen test kit
Hookworms can also be diagnosed easily by using portable antigen test kits. These can easily be used at home and require little or no technical training.
What is the treatment of hookworm infection?
Several effective antihelmintic drugs are available in the market. Most are administered via the oral route and have little or no side effects. It is necessary to treat an infected dog within two to four weeks to kill the newly developed eggs.