THE HOOKED WORM: WHEN CURIOSITY BETRAYS THEM

Children, wash your hands before eating! Kids, don’t play with dirty dirt! They are hygienic-sanitary measures that surely sound familiar to us, for having incorporated them into early childhood education and the list of healthy habits that we instill in our children, and that we also practice – or should – adults.

Another pet on my property? What an appetizing aroma! A stranger sniffing? It is easy that your pet has ever thought something like this during his walk on the street, in the park or in the mountains. Curiosity is innate in our little friends, and without being able to avoid it, it leads them to sniff out excrements of other animals, lick abandoned food scraps or nibble on stones.

It is then when that curiosity betrays them and exposes them to our potential enemy – the hookworm, from the family of gastrointestinal nematodes (Ancylostoma caninum) – that manages to enter your body and fixate mainly on your small intestine.

What disease is hookworm?

The hookworm, the disease caused by this nematode, is a serious disease that causes bloody stools and can endanger the lives of our dog. Being a very common parasitosis (up to 30% of dogs carry it), it is also an important risk for humans that we can contract it; through contagion through the skin and by direct ingestion derived from bad practice or hygienic habits. An adequate preventive deworming will be the best way to help our beloved pet and avoid putting ourselves in danger, us too!

What is the life cycle of the hookworm?

The hookworm has a direct but complex life cycle. The larvae begin their life after hatching the eggs inside the feces deposited on the ground by a contaminated animal. The larvae take advantage of the humidity of the vegetation to move and wait, for even weeks, for the passage of a host animal. These infective larvae penetrate our dog by direct ingestion of water, garbage or by licking contaminated surfaces, but also by simple contact and penetration into the skin. It is a small worm, between 5 and 15 millimeters, with a rounded silhouette and a characteristic hook or hook shape in its anterior part, where a large mouth capsule with sharp teeth is located. It is precisely these teeth, those used to pierce the skin (requires a contact of at least 5 to 10 minutes) and reach the blood supply, and to attach to the intestinal walls of our pet from where they will suck blood (hematophagous) and produce eggs. The infected dog will not only suffer from the disease, but will also act as the originator of the life cycle that the worm needs, eventually excreting the eggs with its feces.

How can I suspect that the disease is present?

The infection caused by the hookworm can be especially serious since it produces an anticoagulant in the saliva to be able to suck blood without clotting the wound. Even when they leave a wound, to change location, the wound they have left continues to bleed.

The signs and severity of hookworm depend on the number of parasites present in the animal. Therefore, if we detect any symptoms, we must go to our veterinarian to perform a microscope examination in search of the parasite in the stool.

What are the symptoms of hookworm in dogs?

  • Vomiting and diarrhea, which may be bloody.
  • Pale gums and mucous membranes, showing signs of anemia.
  • Weight loss, malnutrition, and physical weakness (cachexia).
  • Shaggy and dry hair.
  • Apathy and low mood.
  • Disturbance of development and growth in puppies under 12 months.
  • When the worm penetrates the skin, it leaves raised and reddened lines.

How to prevent hookworm?

It is very convenient to take hygienic precautions and avoid that pets ingest garbage or soil suspected of being contaminated with larvae, avoiding potentially infected environments, but very often this will be difficult to achieve. For this reason, and especially in homes with children, it is highly recommended that pets learn not to defecate where minors play. However, the best preventive measure will be to periodically take our animal to the veterinarian, to carry out the analyzes and deworming that he prescribes, thus guaranteeing the protection of our pet inside and outside its organism through a Double Monthly Protection. Find out from your vet and if you show him the coupon that you can get here, you will get a gift.