Hookworms are one of the most common infestations in dogs. The worm is resilient, living in an environment for weeks without food, and can pass quickly into a dog's bloodstream unnoticed. They are especially dangerous to puppies and can lead to anemia, and death.
Hookworms are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Looking for the worm itself on your dog is not an accurate way of diagnosing hookworms. A vet can visually verify a case of hookworms by microscopically analyzing a dog's stool.
Look for symptoms if you feel your dog is infected. An early sign is coughing. If hookworms have gotten into your dog's lungs, it will have a cough. If your dog exhibits strange behavior and has a lack of appetite, or if the lining of its ears, nostrils or lips are pale, take your dog to the vet.
Hookworms are especially bad for puppies, and can be passed from a parent to a puppy. If you have recently had a litter, and puppies begin to die, you probably have a hookworm problem. Visit a vet immediately.
Hookworms migrate from the excrement of an infected dog to the surrounding environment. Once in the environment, worms can penetrate a dog's skin very easily, passing through the blood stream and into the heart.
Medication will either kill the hookworms, or expel them from the dog's body. Puppies older than two weeks can be put on medication. Often the medication is all that is needed, but sometimes the dog will need extra supplements to account for the loss of iron from the blood-sucking parasites