Hookworms are intestinal parasite that can infect both cats and dogs. Some species of these worms occur only in one pet or the other, but other species of hookworm can pass between your furry companions. To prevent such a scenario, have both of your furkids examined by a vet.
Ancylostoma caninum is a species of hookworm that usually infects dogs, while Ancylostoma tubaeforme typically infects cats. These pet-specific hookworms aren't usually passed among your kitty and pup; if one becomes infected, the worms won't affect the other. There may be some exceptions, though, according to an article published in the December 1976 issue of "The Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health," in which the authors found some kitties infected by A. caninum. Other species of hookworms -- Ancylostoma braziliense, Uncinaria stenocephala, Ancylostoma ceylanicum and Ancylostoma ceylanicum -- infect both cats and dogs.
Transmission Between Pets
If infected, your kitty or pup passes the eggs of the hookworms in his stool. These eggs later hatch in the soil outdoors, ready to infect another animal. The troublesome pests enter your pet through the skin of his feet when he steps on the infected soil for five to 10 minutes, according to the Center for Food Security & Public Health. Your furry buddy can also become infected if he ingests the worm when grooming his fur or when sniffing around the infested soil. Pups and kitties that frequently hang out in the common outdoor areas can pass the worms to each other. If your furry friend encounters an infected rodent and ingests it, he could contract hookworms.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Hookworms feed on your kitty or pup's blood, causing anemia, tarry diarrhea, weakness and in severe cases death, according to the VetInfo website. To properly diagnose your furry buddy's condition, bring him to the vet for a physical exam and a sample of his stool. A vet or vet tech will check the stool under a microscope for the presence of hookworm eggs. Once diagnosed, your little one will likely receive a deworming medication to rid him of the hookworms. Dewormers are usually in tablet or liquid form that you administer directly to your furry friend or mix into his food. Your pet's medication will vary depending on whether he's a pup or a kitty and other factors.
Bring all of the four-legged members of your household for an exam if one of them has been diagnosed with hookworms. A vet may suggest treating all of them, both canine and feline, for the parasites in case your other pets have become infected as well. Since puppies and kittens can get hookworms from their mother's milk or while in the womb, it's crucial to give the little cuties worming medications at the ages your vet recommends. Hookworms can pass to humans, entering through the skin and causing localized infections; if you swallow the larvae, they can travel to the intestines, according to Petfinder.com.
Keep your kitties' and pups' outdoor environment clean of feces, and stay away from areas where neighborhood pets usually go potty. A clean environment for your furry friends also keeps intermediate hosts like rats and mice away. Using heartworm preventative medication regularly can help prevent hookworms, as can deworming your furry friends one to two times per year or as recommended by your vet.
To prevent any issues with hookworms affecting you, always wash your hands after spending time outdoors, especially after gardening or yard work. Remember to wear shoes when you walk around outside, to protect the skin on the bottom of your feet from any hookworm larvae in the soil.
- WebMD: Hookworms (Ancylostoma) in Dogs
- Pet MD: Hookworms in Dogs
- PetWave: Causes & Preventing Hookworm Infection in Dogs
- Novartis Animal Health: Hookworms
- Bayer HealthCare: Hookworms
- The Center for Food Security & Public Health: Hookworms
- Helping Hands Veterinary Clinic: Internal Parasites of Dogs and Cats
- VetInfo: Parasitic Worms -- Ringworm, Roundworms and Tapeworms
- Upstate Animal Medical Center: Ancylostoma Caninum, Ancylostoma Tubaeforme, Ancylostoma Braziliense, Uncinaria Stenocephala
- Pet MD: Hookworms in Cats
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Parasites -- Zoonotic Hookworm
- The Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health: Prevalence and Zoonotic Potential of Ancylostoma Ceylanicum in Cats in Thailand
- The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene: Ancylostoma Ceylanicum Infection in Dogs, Cats, and Man in Taiwan
- Newman Veterinary Medical Services: Hookworms in Dogs and Cats
- Petfiner: Intestinal Parasites
- Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images