Hookworms live in the intestines of your cat or dog. They can reach a lenght of 3-4 cm and are very thin, making them almost invisible to the human eye. One end of the hookworm has a mouth with small teeth, enabling the hookworm to pierce a bloodvessel in the intestines and have a continuous blood supply. Threehundred adults hookworms use up 10% of your pet’s blood per day. This can lead to the death of your pet.
Kittens and puppies can be born with hookworms. The hookworm larvae is very small and can easily penetrate the placenta. There they nest in the lungs. Soon after birth, the hookworms are being coughed up and swallowed. In the intestines they develop into adult hookworms, start to suck blood and lay eggs.
An adult cat or dog can be contaminated by swallowing a hookworm larvae. Larvae are present in the grass and in the soil. A hookworm lays eggs in your pet’s intestines. Through the faeces of your pet the eggs end up in nature. Under favourable circumstances (humidity and warmth) the eggs will hatch within 12 to 18 hours. The larvae can survive in the soil for a long time. Usually they are located in somewhat humid soil.
People can also be infected with hookworms. This occurs by means of the hookworm larvae, that enters the body. It also occurs in children. Especially when they put soil in their mouths , they enable the larvae to enter the body. But humans are an unnatural host to the larvae , thus preventing the larvae to develop to a grown, blood sucking hookworm. Because of this,after a short while, the larvae will die just underneath the skin. In that place a serious inflammatory reaction will occur that has to be treated.
Animals with a hookworm infection display the following symptoms:
Weight loss, loss of appetite, black tar-like diarrhoea, bloody diarrhoea, pale mucosa in mouth, intestinal bleeding, anaemia, abdominal pain, bad coat condition, lack of energy. A severe infection can lead to death.
It is advisable to worm your adult pets four times a year with a de-worming formula that kills eggs, larvae and hookworms in all stages of development. These are called broad spectrum de-worming medication. Young animals need to be wormed more often.
If certain beaches are known for the presence of hookworm larvae, is is advisable to not frequently walk your pet there.