Yesterday, you learned about how roundworm can infect both people and pets. Today, you will learn about another parasite that can be a real problem for children and pets.
Hookworm is another common parasite found in dogs. Dogs at all stages of life could face a hookworm infection.
Hookworms are intestinal parasites of the dog. These tiny vampires live in the intestines where they use their teeth, or “hooks”, to attach themselves to the small intestine. Because they are blood-sucking parasites, infected animals may become lethargic and anemic. Puppies can become pale and weak and could possibly die.
Life Cycle of the Hookworm
- An infected animal like a dog, cat, or human sheds hookworm eggs in its stool.
- The eggs hatch in the natural environment to 2nd stage larvae and mature in the environment into 3rd stage (infectious) larvae.
- A dog, cat, or human picks up hookworms by walking barefoot in contaminated soil.
- The hookworms migrate to the intestines, feed, and produce new eggs.
Monthly heartworm treatment is often effective at controlling hookworm infection.
Infection in Humans
Running barefoot on the beach or in your backyard could put you at risk of contracting hookworm infection. Hookworms could also infect you if you consume vegetables that have not been properly washed. Human infection could result in skin lesions. The lesions are red and inflamed and often very itchy. It’s important to note that these blood-sucking parasites can cause iron deficiency and anemia in infected people and pets.
How you can be proactive
- Put your pet on a monthly treatment regimen for heartworm.
- Keep on top of cleaning up poop from your yard. If you don’t have time for this necessary chore, hire a professional to do the dirty work for you.
- Refrain from running barefoot in your backyard (if you have dogs) and always wash vegetables thoroughly before eating them.