Hookworms are tiny parasites that attach to an animal's intestinal walls and start ingesting their blood. They're transmitted between animals by contact with feces, and dogs can pick them up from kennels and dog parks. Hookworms can cause a significant amount of blood loss, and an infection can be fatal in newborn puppies, so it's important to treat it as soon as possible. To learn how dogs get hookworms and how a veterinarian can treat them, read on.

How Do Dogs Get Hookworms?

When an animal is infected with hookworms, female hookworms in their intestines will lay eggs that end up in the animal's feces. After a few days, the eggs will hatch, and the larval hookworms will crawl into the soil.

If your dog comes into contact with animal feces that have hookworm larva in it, they can get infected if they sniff it or ingest it. They can also get infected if the larval worms get on their paws since hookworms can burrow through the skin. When hookworms enter through a dog's skin, they'll circulate through their bloodstream until they reach the lungs, and the dog will swallow them after coughing them up.

Finally, hookworms can also be transmitted through milk. Newborn puppies can get hookworms by nursing from their mother if their mother is infected.

What Are Signs That Your Dog Has Hookworms?

When a hookworm attaches to a dog's intestinal lining, it will consume a substantial amount of blood despite its tiny size. Dogs who are infected with hookworms may show signs of anemia, such as weakness and pale gums. Dogs who are infected with hookworms may also have black, tarry stool, which is a sign of intestinal bleeding.

How Does a Veterinarian Treat Hookworms in Dogs?

When you take your dog to a veterinarian, they'll confirm that your dog has hookworm by examining their stool under a microscope to check for hookworm eggs. If hookworm eggs are present, the veterinarian will prescribe deworming medication for your dog.

Deworming medication for hookworm is highly effective, but it may take a few courses of medication before all of the hookworms are dead. They can lie dormant in a dog's muscle tissue, then wake up and cause another infection later. Your veterinarian will continue checking stool samples until there are no longer any hookworm eggs in your dog's stool, which is a sign that the infection has been successfully treated.

If you think that your dog has hookworm, especially if your dog is a puppy, take them to a veterinarian for treatment as soon as possible. The bleeding that hookworms cause can be fatal for puppies, so they need immediate treatment. Adult dogs are less at risk, but they need to be treated to prevent hookworms from spreading to other animals. A veterinarian will examine your dog to check for hookworms and prescribe deworming medication to get rid of the infection, keeping your dog healthy and preventing hookworms from spreading.

For more information, contact a veterinarian near you.