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Hookworms in Cats and Dogs: 5 Things to Know

How to Keep Your Safe from Hookworms

By Rebecca Kelley. August 20, 2012 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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Hookworms in Cats and Dogs: 5 Things to Know

Hookworms are intestinal parasites that feed off of your pet's blood. Learn these 5 things to help keep these worms away from your pet.

Hookworms are an intestinal parasite that can cause serious symptoms or no symptoms at all in your dog or cat. Keeping yourself educated on these 5 things can keep this nasty worm away from you, your family, and your furry best friend.

1. Prevention is the Best Treatment

There are some great treatments out there for hookworms, so if your dog or cat is already infected, you’ve got options. Still, prevention is incredibly easy. If you keep your pet on a once monthly preventative medication like Heartgard, you’re preventing more than just hookworms: this medication will keep heartworms and other gross parasites at bay.

2. Your Environment Might Pose the Greatest Threat

Cases of hookworms have been found all over the globe in all kinds of climates. Still, your pet is at greatest risk if you live in a warm, humid climate. Larvae thrives in the heat and humidity, so if it’s the summer or if you live in the southeastern United States, you’ll want to be extra careful about prevention.

3. Hookworms have crafty infection methods

Hookworms are doing their best to get into your pet’s intestines. Still, they can get into your dog’s body through their skin. Hookworms will most often crawl through the pads of your pet’s paws, where they travel through vessels and veins to get into your pet’s lungs. From there, your pet can swallow these little worms where they attach to your pet’s intestines.

4. Humans Can Get Hookworms Too

While there have only been a few cases of intestinal hookworms in humans, hookworms can travel through your skin and cause a skin infection called creeping eruption. This itchy skin disease generally clears up on its own, but it’s uncomfortable and a little unsightly for some. Human hookworms are just one more reason you’ll want to keep this parasite away from your pet.

5. It’s Not What They Take, It's How They Take

Most hookworm infections don’t show signs because of the blood they’re taking from your dog’s or cat’s system. Rather, these worms, which can grow as large as an inch in size, will reattach to a new part of your pet’s intestines every few hours, leaving behind ulcers in their wake. Additionally, these worms release an anticoagulant when they bite that keeps your pet’s blood from clotting. While some species of hookworms suck more blood than others, the real threat to your pet comes from the way these worms bite, not how much they suck.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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