6 Symptoms of Hookworm in Dogs

Have you ever heard of hookworm? What is hookworm, anyway? Is it really a worm? Hookworm is a parasite that is also a type of worm, and it can infest dogs’ bodies easily under the right conditions. As a dog owner, it’s very important for you to know the common symptoms of hookworm in dogs so that you can quickly identify when your pet needs treatment for this.

Symptoms of hookworm in dogs

Chief Veterinary Officer of Heart + Paw, George Melillo, says the following about hookworms: “An important thing to note is that hookworms can also infect people, so this parasite has a public health significance.”

Common Symptoms of Hookworm in Dogs

When a dog has hookworms, those worms latch onto the intestinal wall with their hook-like mouths. Dogs can contract this parasite from sniffing soil and feces that are contaminated or from drinking water with hookworms in it. 

The signs that your dog may be suffering from a hookworm infestation can range from being mild to severe. You’ll need to know the severity of all of these symptoms so that you can know how immediate your pet will need veterinary care. However, it’s always good to have your dog treated for this as quickly as possible so that their discomfort can be eased.

Below, we’ll break down the severity of some of the most common signs of hookworm in dogs.

Mild to Moderate Symptoms

The symptoms of hookworm in dogs that are considered to be mild to moderate include:

Weakness

Since the hookworms feed off of your dog’s blood supply while attached to the intestinal wall, they quickly lead to weakness as a result of this blood loss. Dogs who are sick with hookworms may be too weak to stand up, especially if the condition persists for a long time.

Lethargy

Dogs who are sick with hookworms may feel lethargic. They may not want to get up and play, and their activity levels may drop suddenly. Lethargy may also appear as a lack of interest in their favorite toys, people, or food.

Itching Paws

Itching paws are a unique symptom of hookworms. If your dog’s paws are itching and they don’t show any of the other symptoms on this list, the problem may not be hookworms; however, itchy paws along with any of these other symptoms may indicate a hookworm infestation.

Stomach Pain

Dogs with a serious case of hookworms may have stomach pain. They may have tenderness and may be guarded when their abdomens are touched. They may also become uninterested in food or water because eating and drinking cause more stomach pain.

Moderate to Severe Symptoms

Below are moderate to severe symptoms of hookworm in dogs:

Vomiting

Vomiting is one of the more common symptoms of hookworms, especially when the infection has gotten worse. Dogs who are vomiting a lot may be at risk of dehydration and should be taken to the vet for IV fluids if the vomiting does not stop in a day.

Bloody Diarrhea

Bloody diarrhea is another symptom that comes with a moderate to severe hookworm infection. Bloody diarrhea is a very dangerous symptom that can lead to both anemia and dehydration without quick treatment, so the emergency vet is the best choice in this situation. Other illnesses may also have bloody diarrhea as a symptom, and the vet will need to find out what’s going on to provide the right treatment.

Sudden Extreme Weight Loss

When a dog has hookworms, he is not very interested in eating. An infected dog may also not have the strength to stand up long enough to eat a complete meal, and you may notice a lot of vomiting and diarrhea as well. All of these symptoms combine to create a sudden, extreme loss of weight.

Sudden extreme weight loss can be a sign of a wide variety of health problems in dogs, including cancer. If this is the only symptom you’ve noticed, you’ll need to take your pet to the vet for a complete diagnosis.

Stunted Growth

Puppies who have hookworms may show signs of stunted growth from an early age. They may not gain enough weight and may also not get as tall or long as they should. Milestones will not be met, and these puppies will be at a severe risk of becoming very sick if the hookworm infection is allowed to continue without treatment.

Mother dogs can, unfortunately, pass hookworms to puppies through their milk. For this reason, it is extremely important for mother dogs to be up to date on their shots and deworming medication, and to go for vet checkups often while expecting and nursing puppies.

Can Hookworms be Fatal for Dogs?

Sometimes. Hookworms are usually fatal to young puppies who contract them through their mothers’ milk. Hookworms can cause anemia (a lack of red blood cells in the body) which can, in turn, quickly become fatal to a small puppy.

Healthy adult dogs can usually survive hookworm infections with the help of medication. Senior dogs or dogs with serious health conditions may be more at risk of death from hookworms, especially if left untreated.

Take Your Pet to the Vet for Any and All Symptoms of Hookworm in Dogs

The symptoms that are associated with hookworms in dogs can also be found in many other illnesses and conditions. Therefore, if you suspect your dog has worms but you aren’t sure, it’s a good idea to take him to the vet to be checked out.

The vet will perform thorough tests, including a fecal exam, to find out for sure what’s going on with your dog. If your dog is diagnosed with hookworms, he will need a couple of rounds of a deworming medication to clear up the problem and help him get back to good health in no time.

If you notice any of the symptoms of hookworm in dogs mentioned above in your pet, don’t wait to make an appointment for them to see a veterinarian (or take them straight to the emergency vet, if needed). When it comes to your pet’s health, it’s always better to seek care sooner rather than later. Book an appointment at any of our Heart + Paw locations today, and our team will always make sure your pet gets the treatment they need.

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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