Q. How does a dog get hookworms? Are they contagious to the other dog in the house?

A. Hookworms can be transmitted a number of ways - either from ingestion of something infected with hookworm eggs such as a dead animal, or fecal matter, or through contact with hookworms/eggs in the ground or dirt.

The ingested form of hookworms is more common, and usually causes digestive upset such as diarrhea or changes in appetite. As the eggs are very small, they are usually found via fecal examination under a microscope.

The contact form of hookworms is more common in people who walk barefoot in areas where eggs have been deposited, but can also occur in pets. This is a cutaneous migrans form of the hookworm, and is usually self-limiting as the worm itself needs to be in the digestive system to thrive.

Treatment for both cases usually involves a systemic dewormer to remove the parasite. Hookworms are transmissible to other pets and people in the house, so treating all pets that have been infected or come in contact with infected materials is best. Hands should also be washed and care taken to not walk barefoot in areas where pets may defecate.

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