Hookworm

Image of a hookworm under a microscope.

Hookworms are small, thread-like parasites of the small intestine where they attach and suck large amounts of blood. These parasites are found in almost all parts of the world, being common in dogs, and occasionally seen in cats.

Symptoms are usually diarrhea and weight loss. The parasites can actually suck so much blood that they cause pale gums from anemia, and black and tarry stools. Young puppies can be so severely affected that they die. Infection can be by ingestion of breast milk from an infected mother, by ingestion of infected eggs, or by skin penetration of infected larvae.

Since the adult parasites are so small, they are rarely seen in the stool. Diagnosis of these parasites is by the veterinarian or laboratory finding the microscopic eggs in the stool.

There are a variety of medications that can kill hookworms. The important point to know is that there is no one medicine that will kill all the types of intestinal parasites that exist. Some of the monthly "heartworm preventatives" will also work to treat hookworms.

People exposed to hookworms can develop a rash called cutaneous larval migrans. Infected larvae, usually from contaminated yards, can penetrate human skin and cause red tracts.

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  • "This summer it became obvious that we needed to the large benign tumor on our 10-year-old miniature
    schnauzer Wolfgang's chest removed: it was nearly the
    size of a baseball! Because of Wolf's age and nervous
    temperament, we were extremely worried about the
    surgery. But Dr. Evans and his staff did a wonderful job:
    no complications, great follow-up care, and Wolfgang
    acts like a puppy again!
    Thank you, West Mountain Veterinary Hospital!"
    Joe and Deborah