Hookworms can pose a big risk to puppies. Although they are small in size (3mm long), a large number of hookworms can lead to a puppy having severe anaemia, as a result of the worms feeding on its intestines.
There are four main ways that dogs can pick up these small, blood-sucking parasites:
- Direct contact with the skin, through licking other dogs or grooming themselves
- Oral ingestion, from digging or sniffing in soil or feaces containing hookworm larvae
- In utero, passed from their mother via the placenta
- Through their mother’s milk after birth
Signs that a puppy has a hookworm infection include:
- Pale gums
- Weight loss
- Bloody diarrhoea
- Itchy paws
- Poor growth
An infected dog will be given medication to eliminate the hookworms. In severe cases of anaemia, dogs may also need a blood transfusion and admission to hospital.
Puppies should be given their first hookworm treatment at two weeks of age and they will then require ongoing medication until they are fully grown. We recommend seeing your regular vet as soon as you get your new puppy, as they will be able to tailor treatment specifically to your dog’s current vaccination status.