Hookworms are a small type of roundworm, and grow up to 16mm in length. Despite their small size, however, they can still cause problems in our dogs. Using sharp jaws, hookworms latch on to the inside of the wall of the small intestine, and feed off blood from the small vessels there.
There are two types of hookworm seen in the UK; the more common of the two is Uncinaria stenocephala, which rarely causes any signs of infection. The less common is the Ancylostoma species which are capable of causing more severe disease. Both can also infect foxes, and in fact in a study showed 68% of UK foxes had a hookworm infection.
Hookworms have a very similar lifecycle to the toxocara canis roundworm, moving about the body and into the lungs to mature before re-entering the intestine.
Differently from other types of worm, hookworms can also enter the body through the skin, usually in cases where a dog’s feet are often damp such as kennelled dogs. In these cases the larvae rarely make it deep into the body, and usually just show as skin inflammation.