Our kittens are very independent and curious animals, hunters by nature and very concerned about their hygiene and daily grooming. Their feline instincts will end up putting them in a defenseless situation and in contact with some undesirable parasites. In Europe, some studies suggest that up to 10% of the domestic feline population is, or will be, infested by the hookworm and will end up suffering from an intestinal parasitic infection.
Ancylostoma tubaeforme, known as the ganco worm, is a very harmful and common parasite in southern Europe. It acts like a real vampire, adhering to the intestine of our pet to feed on the blood and tissues that it steals.
Hookworm is the disease generated by this intestinal nematode. It is a sometimes serious disease that causes blood loss and can endanger the life of our furry. Being a critical parasitosis, it is easily diagnosed and treated, but it is also an important risk for humans, since it is a zoonosis and we can contract it through contagion through the skin or by direct ingestion derived from a bad hygienic practice by our part. Good preventive hygiene will be the best way to help our pet, controlling hookworm infections.
The life cycle of the hookworm is summarized as follows: the larvae begin their life after hatching the eggs. These larvae will be infective in a few days. Our cat can become infected by direct ingestion of them, from the soil or contaminated media. However, it is also produced by simple contact and penetration through the skin. A very specific situation occurs when an infected female may end up transmitting the parasite to her young through the milk with which she suckles them. Unlike the case of dogs, in cats the possibility of contagion through the placenta during pregnancy has not been established.
The larvae enter the cat and in the intestine we will have the adult worms. These worms are small, with a rounded silhouette and a characteristic hooked shape in their anterior part, where their mouth with sharp teeth is located. It is precisely these teeth that it uses to pierce the skin and reach the blood supply, and to attach itself to the intestinal walls of our pet from where they will suck the blood. These worms will produce the eggs. Thus, the infected cat will be the originator of the new life cycle that the worm needs, finally expelling the eggs within its feces.
The signs and severity of hookworm depend on the amount of parasites present in the animal, so if we detect any symptoms we must go to our veterinarian to perform a microscope examination in search of the parasite in the stool.
The most notable and common symptoms of this disease are:
- Dark colored stools and diarrhea from blood
- Signs of anemia with pale gums and mucous membranes
- Weight loss, malnutrition, and physical weakness
- Shaggy, dull hair
- Apathy and low mood
- Skin signs and respiratory signs when disease progresses
It is very convenient to monitor the hygiene of the cat’s environment – with regular disinfection of the areas it frequents and the litter tray – and to prevent pets from ingesting garbage or wallowing in land suspected of being contaminated with larvae, although very often this is going to be difficult to achieve. However, the best preventive measure will be to take our furry dog to the veterinarian periodically, to perform the analyzes and deworming that he prescribes, thus guaranteeing the protection of our pet inside and outside his body through a trustworthy Double Monthly Protection.