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How do dogs get hookworms?

Hookworms are a small type of roundworm, and grow up to 16mm in length. Despite their small size, however, they can still cause problems in our dogs. Using sharp jaws, hookworms latch on to the inside of the wall of the small intestine, and feed off blood from the small vessels there. There are two types of hookworm seen in the UK; the more common of the two is Uncinaria stenocephala, which rarely causes any signs of infection. The less common is the Ancylostoma species which are capable of causing more severe disease.


Both can also infect foxes, and in fact in a study showed 68% of UK foxes had a hookworm infection.


Dogs can pick up hookworms from several sources:

  • From their mother. Hookworms can be passed from mother to puppies either via the placenta before birth, or through the milk.

  • Swallowing hookworm larvae in the soil. These larvae are usually present due to faecal contamination, from other dogs or from foxes.

  • Through the skin, usually around the feet.

Symptoms of intestinal infection may include:

  • Diarrhoea, possibly with dark faeces

  • Pale gums

  • Going off food

  • Tiredness

  • In young puppies, a large infestation can lead to death.

Hookworms can cause intestinal signs via infection through the skin:

  • Swollen pads

  • Itchiness

  • Red spots on the skin

  • Hair-loss in the area

  • Skin thickening

If your dog is experiencing any of these signs then you should make an appointment with your vet.


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