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Hookworms in Dogs and Puppies

08/30/2018 by Colleen Williams
August 30th, 2018 by Colleen Williams

hookworms in dogs

Hookworms are parasites that invade your dog’s small intestines and ingest their blood. They are highly dangerous, and can be fatal.

Hookworms are transmitted through ingestion of larvae, or even larvae penetration of the skin. The ingestion usually happens from drinking contaminated water, or living in a contaminated environment (especially one that is permanently damp). Hookworms can quickly spread from dog to dog when coming in contact with infected stools, while puppies can become infected in the womb or from drinking their infected mother’s milk.

Hookworms work fast, causing anemia and inflammation, and if not immediately treated they can be fatal in a short amount of time. Puppies are the most at risk. It’s very important that if you suspect hookworms in your dog or puppy, to get to an emergency clinic as soon as possible.


  • First signs: Surprisingly, itchy feet, due to coming in contact with larvae while walking around in an infected environment. The larvae can penetrate the paws.
  • Lethargy and fatigued disposition
  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Pale linings in nostrils, lips, and ears
  • Coughing, should the hookworms have penetrated the lungs
  • Black or dark red stool
  • Diarrhea with blood or constipation


Only a veterinarian can treat hookworms and it is very important to take your dog to a vet as soon as you suspect hookworms. Diagnosis is usually made from a stool sample, so you should bring one with you if possible.

After diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe medication that will kill the hookworms, as well as a nutritional and supplement plan for during and after treatment. Puppies who are born with or contract hookworms will be put on medication for at least two weeks, and remain on them for a few months, or as needed. Treatment for pregnant dogs will take place two weeks after breeding and continue up to four weeks after puppies are born to make sure the infection has been killed and unable to spread to the litter.

In severe cases, dogs and puppies will be hospitalized and given fluid therapy. They may need a blood transfusion and supplemental oxygen.

Unfortunately, there is still a possibility of sudden death even during treatment. It cannot be stressed enough to get your dog or puppy medical care as soon as possible if hookworms are suspected.


The best way to keep your dog or puppy hookworm free is to keep a clean environment – especially water. Change your dog’s water regularly and do not let them drink from puddles or ponds that look unclean, or where water has been sitting for a long time. It’s also important to clean up after your dog, and keep them away from possibly contaminated fecal matter.

Talk to your veterinarian about a heartworm medication plan. Many heartworm preventatives also prevent hookworms. Puppies should be given hookworm preventative medication multiple times in their first few months. This is extremely important, as hookworms are common in puppies.

Can I Get Hookworms from My Dog?

Yes. Hookworms can penetrate your skin. This can happen if you come in contact with a dog’s infected poop. Seek medical attention if you suspect you have contracted hookworms.

By enrolling your dog early, conditions and illnesses like parasite infection treatments will be covered up to 90% by your Healthy Paws dog insurance. Find out more by getting a free quote.