When hookworms sink their tiny teeth into the wall of your pet's intestine and start feeding, these parasites can lead to serious gastrointestinal distress, including severe diarrhea and vomiting, as well as anemia. Some animals can even die from a hookworm infection.
Your pet can pick up hookworms from eating food, drinking water or nosing around in soil that contains hookworm larvae. Once inside your pet's intestines, hookworms will feed on its blood. They lay eggs that pass out of the animal in its feces. If you come in contact with those larvae, you can get infected, too.
Certain kinds of hookworms can burrow their way into human skin as well, causing a skin disease called cutaneous larval migrans or "creeping eruption." This infection appears as a red, itchy rash on the skin. If you get a more severe infection, you may develop symptoms similar to those of your pet, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and anemia.
In dogs, hookworm is treated with many of the same de-worming medications used to kill roundworms. Typically, these are taken monthly as a preventive measure. These medications contain ingredients like ivermectin and pyrantel pamoate.
Humans rarely get hookworm in the U.S. It's more common in poorer countries. Just in case, it's a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water if you have any contact with your pet's feces. If you do get hookworm, your doctor can prescribe a drug like albendazole or pyrantel pamoate to treat it.