Hookworms are a common parasitic worm (nemotode). Various species infect many mammals including dogs, cats and humans. The four main hook worm species that affect dogs are Ancylostoma caninum, Ancylostoma braziliense, Ancylostoma tubaeforme, and Uncinaria stenocephala. As its name suggests A. caninum is the most prevalent and causes the most serious symptoms in dogs.
Much smaller than many other worm species, hookworms are only about 10 mm (3/8 inch) in length tapering at both ends. As a result of their small size they don't cause the intestinal obstructions that we see with larger worm species.
They are transmitted through ingestion of larvae from contaminated areas. The larvae can also burrow into the skin.
Puppies can be infected via their mothers milk. Some vets believe it can be passed from mother to fetal puppy during pregnancy, however, there is some controversy regarding this route of transmission.
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Even though they are small, hookworms in large enough numbers can pose a serious threat to your Aussie.
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Regardless of how hookworm larvae enter the body, once there they make their way into the intestines they mature into adults. In the intestines they cling to the walls and, in true parasitic form, gorge themselves on blood that they suck from their host.
This loss of blood, and iron, results in anemia. Symptoms include pale skin colour, weakness, black tarry stools, bloody diarrhea and weight loss. This can lead to death, especially in puppies.
Where humans come into contact with hookworm larvae skin sores and inflammation occur as they penetrate the skin and migrate until they eventually die.
Preventative treatments are available for hookworm. Fecal samples can be tested for the presence of eggs. See your vet if you see signs of hook worm infection.
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