Many dog owners are aware that there are parasites that their dog might get, but they are not usually familiar with which are the most dangerous to their dog’s health. Some areas of the US are more prone to certain parasites than others. In the case of hookworms, warm and humid weather can be a big determining factor in the presence of this parasite in your area.
You might not have realized that your dog could get hookworms and therefore might not have realized that you could protect your dog from this kind of parasitic infection. The more that you know about hookworms, the better off you and your dog will be. This is one of the most overlooked parasites, and hookworms can go undetected for longer than is ideal in some cases.
What Are Hookworms?
These are small nematodes that are found in the small intestines of dogs and cats. These parasites can survive for up to 24 months inside a host, and they cause damage to the intestine mucosa by injecting anticoagulants into the tissues to help foster their feeding. They can be 10 to 20 millimeters in length, and they attach to the intestine wall while they are feeding.
Dogs typically get these parasites when they ingest them from a host that is infected, like a rodent that might have them. The hookworm larvae in the host then attach to the dog’s muscle tissue and migrate when they are mature enough to start feeding and reproducing. Puppies are particularly vulnerable, but dogs of all ages can get hookworms.
Here’s Why You Will Want to Protect Your Dog from Hookworms
If you are ready to learn some more about the reasons that you want to protect your dog from hookworms, you need to keep reading!
1. Hookworms are Hard to Eradicate
Hookworms are one of the harder parasites to eradicate without damage to the health of the host. This is the case with heartworm as well, and most preventatives and most treatments for hookworms are also treatments for heartworm. This is one of the kinds of parasites that causes so much damage to the host that the health of the dog can be impacted before the process of removal of the parasites is begun.
On top of this, the large numbers of parasites in some hosts can lead to toxicity when the hookworms die. For dogs with a very heavy parasite load, the process of killing the hookworms might require that the animal be admitted to the vet hospital and watched for a couple of days to ensure that it will pull through.
2. Adult Dogs Might Not Show Symptoms
An additional concern related to this parasite is that adult dogs might not show any obvious symptoms of their parasitic load until they become sick or experience another health challenge. In this way, hookworms can be a silent killer of adult animals since owners are not often aware that their dog has this parasite. When your dog has a heavy hookworm parasite load, and they get sick with something else, the challenge to their immune system on two fronts could actually kill them.
This is one of the reasons that you need to consider hookworm preventatives critical to your dog’s overall well-being. Even if your dog is not sick with a very serious ailment, if there are hookworms taking up residence in their body, the combination of the parasites and a new health challenge can be deadly.
3. They are Very Communicable
These parasites are very easy for your pets to share with one another. If you have more than one animal in the home, as well as cats that share the house with your dogs, it is very easy for your pets to all become infected with hookworms. This can lead to a long-term eradication process that is just not that fun for anyone.
When you find hookworms in one animal in your home, you will need to assume that all the others need to be treated. You will want to ensure that you take the other pets in your house to be examined before there are given treatment just in case they are carrying a heavy load of these invaders. Hookworms are the kind of silent presence that can sweep through a family of pets without anyone knowing, that is until it is too late in some cases.
4. Puppies Can Get Hookworms from Their Mothers
One of the other significant risks associated with hookworms that are not treated is that adult dogs can share them with their puppies through their mammary glands. This is one of the instances of transmission that many people are not aware of, and hookworms can kill a litter of puppies in a matter of days. All female dogs that are going to have puppies need to be treated for hookworms and examined by the veterinarian before they are pregnant.
Your vet can advise about the best way to ensure that your pregnant female dog is not going to communicate these parasites to her puppies. Being certain that the litter will not be impacted requires diligent prevention processes before the puppies are born as well as an awareness of the risks to the litter that these parasites can pose.
Hookworms Must be Prevented for Animal Health
These parasites are hard to kill, and they can pose a huge health risk to puppies and adult dogs alike. Preventing this kind of parasite can be done at the same time as your regular heartworm prevention measures, so you will get a lot of value for your money when you put your pet onto a regular prevention protocol. This is one of the best ways to ensure that your dog is in ideal health and to prevent complications that could lead to their death if they contract another illness.
West Ashley Veterinary Clinic in Charleston, SC offers a full range of veterinary services to keep your pets happy and healthy through all stages of life!