It's easier to practice preventing hookworms than have to treat them. But if your pet is already infected, there are ways to get them back to tip top shape. Learn more here.
Hookworms are unsavory intestinal parasites that feed off of the blood from your pet’s intestinal wall. Like most other diseases, prevention is much easier and more comfortable than treatment, but if your cat or dog already has hookworms, there are medications that will help them get back to feeling 100%.
There are two ways to prevent hookworms. First, good sanitation practices can keep contaminated soil away from your pet’s skin and mouth. Hookworm larvae live in feces from another contaminated animal. If you keep your cat’s litter box clean and keep your dog away from the spot where they eliminate, you can keep them safer from hookworm prevention.
Still, controlling your cat’s or dog’s movement 24/7 can be tough, and this method isn’t 100% effective. Instead, you can put your cat or dog on a worm-preventative medicine, often containing ivermectin, that keeps them from ever developing a problem. The same medications that prevent heartworm will also prevent hookworms. These medicines come in spot-on form, or more commonly, in a once-monthly flavored pill, like Trifexis, that will keep your pet happy and healthy.
Treatment for Hookworms
If you suspect that your pet has hookworms, your vet will want to check your pet’s stool for eggs to make sure that hookworms are the true cause. Because it takes a few weeks for hookworms to start shedding eggs, diagnosis in puppies and kittens can be a bit more difficult, and your vet may recommend having your puppy on deworming medication without a confirmed diagnosis, as the effects can be much more severe in young animals. Some veterinarians treat puppies and kittens for hookworms every three weeks just as a preventative.
After proper diagnosis, there are medications your pet can take to kill adult worms currently living in the intestines. Appropriate medication will depend on your dog’s age. Drontal is often prescribed for young pets, whereas older pets might take Interceptor, Tri-Heart Plus chews, or Iverhart Plus chewable tablets. Because the treatment does not kill migrating larvae moving through the skin, you may have to keep your pet on medication after symptoms subside to ensure that the infection doesn’t resurface. Your pet’s feces will have hookworm eggs and larvae if they’re already infected, so keeping them away from their own waste can help ensure successful treatment.
Your veterinarian will then retest your pet's stool for eggs to make sure the treatment has worked or determine that more treatment is necessary.
If the case is particularly serious, your vet may want you to put your pet on iron therapy and blood transfusions, to make sure that they are able to continue normal function as the hookworms die.
Pregnant dogs and cats can be on hookworm medication, although you and your vet will want to adjust the medication and keep your pet on closer watch if this is the case. Hookworms can be much more dangerous to puppies and kittens, so pregnant pets should definitely seek close treatment.
No one wants to see their best friend get infected with hookworms. Worse, once your pet has hookworms, the infective larvae will be in your yard and environment. This increases the chances that you, your children, or someone else in the area might get this parasite. If your pet does have hookworms, you can help prevent an itchy human infection called creeping eruption by keeping feces out of the area and away from your skin. If you do develop a skin infection from hookworms, it should clear up on its own, since most hookworms can’t make it through the human body into the intestines.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you treat hookworms in cats at home?
Hookworms can be difficult to detect and diagnose, and it is important to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Over-the-counter medications may not be effective or safe for your cat, and using home remedies may delay appropriate treatment and potentially worsen the infection. A veterinarian can perform a fecal exam to identify the presence of hookworm eggs and prescribe a suitable dewormer medication to eliminate the infection. Additionally, your veterinarian may recommend additional treatment to address any symptoms or complications associated with the infection.
What is the medicine for hookworms in cats?
There are several types of medications that can be used to treat hookworms in cats. Fenbendazole is commonly used to treat hookworms and other intestinal parasites in cats. It works by interfering with the parasite's ability to absorb nutrients, leading to its eventual death. Praziquantel is often used to treat tapeworms, but it can also be effective against hookworms in cats. It works by causing muscle spasms in the parasites, which leads to their paralysis and eventual elimination from the cat's system. Pyrantel pamoate is often used to treat roundworms and hookworms in cats. It works by paralyzing the parasites, making them easier to eliminate from the cat's system. Your veterinarian will determine the most appropriate medication and dosage based on your cat's age, weight, and overall health.
What is the best treatment for hookworms in dogs?
The best treatment for hookworms in dogs depends on several factors, including the severity of the infection, the age and health status of the dog, and the presence of any other medical conditions. Your veterinarian will determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on these factors. There are several types of deworming medications that can be used to treat hookworms in dogs, including fenbendazole, pyrantel pamoate, and milbemycin oxime. These medications work by killing the adult worms in the dog's digestive tract and, in some cases, the larval stages of the parasite. In severe cases of hookworm infection, dogs may require intravenous (IV) fluids to help correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances caused by the parasite. In rare cases, dogs with severe hookworm infections may require a blood transfusion to replace the red blood cells lost due to the parasite's blood-feeding behavior.
Can coconut oil get rid of worms in cats?
While there is limited scientific evidence to support the use of coconut oil as a treatment for intestinal parasites in cats, some people believe that it may have anti-parasitic properties that can be beneficial. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which, when converted to monolaurin in the body, has been shown to have antimicrobial properties. Some pet owners and holistic practitioners believe that feeding small amounts of coconut oil to cats may help support their immune systems and reduce the risk of parasite infections. Additionally, coconut oil is high in medium-chain fatty acids, which are easily digestible and can provide a source of energy for cats. While coconut oil is generally considered safe for cats in small amounts, always consult with a veterinarian before giving any new supplements or remedies to your cat. Overfeeding coconut oil can lead to weight gain, digestive upset, or other health issues.
Does garlic get rid of hookworms in dogs?
There is no scientific evidence to support the use of garlic as a treatment for hookworms in dogs. While some people believe that garlic has anti-parasitic properties that may help eliminate intestinal worms, there is no reliable research to confirm this. In fact, garlic can be toxic to dogs in large amounts and can cause a range of symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anemia, and even death. Some studies have also suggested that garlic can interfere with blood clotting and may increase the risk of bleeding in dogs. If you suspect that your dog has intestinal worms, consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Your veterinarian can recommend safe and effective medications to eliminate the worms, as well as provide guidance on preventing future infections.