By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 6 December 2011)
Hookworms are short and thin. They attach to the intestinal wall where they consume blood and tissue, putting the host animal at risk for anemia. Cats and dogs may acquire hookworms by:
- Direct ingestion of larvae while grooming or licking contaminated surfaces
- Having larvae borrow through their skin, usually via the feet (or the belly when the pet lies down)
- Eating infected prey (such as rodents or cockroaches)
- Nursing from an infected mother
Kittens and puppies can even be born with hookworms if their mothers are infected.
Can People Catch Hookworms from Animals?
Hookworms love warm, damp material, so beaches are particularly hospitable for larvae. When people walk barefoot or lie on spots where infected dogs have lain, the larvae may penetrate their skin.
When hookworm larvae infect humans, they usually just burrow into the skin and die, causing itchy red lesions that look like insect bites or red lines. These lesions typically disappear within a few weeks. However, in some cases hookworms make it further into the body causing muscle pain, lung disease, or eosinophilic enteritis (a disease of the intestines).
Symptoms and Treatment of Worms in Cats and Dogs
For symptoms of intestinal worms, as well as treatments and ways to protect your pets and human family members against infestation, see Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention of Intestinal Worms.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for veterinary consultation and care.
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- Nash, H., DVM. (2011). “Hookworm Infection, Prevention and Treatment in Dogs.” PetEducation.com.