How Hookworms Affect Dogs
Hookworms live most of their lives inside of a dog’s small intestine, where they latch onto the intestinal lining and feed on the dog’s blood. They leave raw, weeping sores at the sites of their bites. Dogs with a heavy hookworm load suffer abdominal pain. In other words, they have bad belly-aches. They also have digestive problems, develop diarrhea, become weak and generally feel lousy. When hookworms penetrate a dog’s skin (usually through its paws), they leave raw wounds at their points of entry.
Symptoms of Hookworms
Young dogs tend to be more severely affected by hookworms than older dogs. When a dog of any age becomes infected with these intestinal parasites, its owner may notice one or more of the following signs:
- Pale mucous membranes (especially, pale gums)
- Dark, tarry stools (from digested blood; known as “melena”)
- Poor hair coat
- Poor body condition
- Ill thrift
- Loss of appetite (inappetence; anorexia)
- Weight loss
- Cough (dry, hacking)
- Sores on the paws, especially between the toes (red; infected; presence of pus; caused by the parasites directly penetrating the skin)
- Sudden death
Dogs at Increased Risk
Young dogs, and those with compromised or suppressed immune system function, are more likely to become affected by hookworms than are mature, healthy animals. There is no breed or gender predisposition to infection with these parasites.