SUGGESTIONS for ERADICATING HOOKWORMS
Hookworm infestation is a very common condition in Greyhounds, whether the dog is newly retired or an active racer. Back when Greyhound tracks operated in New England, we saw the ailment from time to time, but generally the parasites could be eliminated with a dose or two of de-wormer. Now that those tracks are closed, our dogs come primarily from Florida where Hookworm infestation is widespread. It is rare that a Greyhound from there is not affected.
There are several reasons for this, the main one being that in the south, the ground is never frozen deeply enough to kill the worms. Hookworms thrive in warm, moist conditions. Added to that is the fact that it only takes one uncollected stool containing Hookworms to allow them to burrow into the soil. Those parasites can then infect all of the dogs in the pen– either if the dog ingests them (eating feces or licking their paws), or if the Hookworm larvae penetrate the pads of the paws.
The only way to clear a pen (or yard) of Hookworms is to remove all soil to a depth of at least one foot; treat the area with lime or bleach; and replace with new, sterilized soil. Of course the animals must be removed beforehand, must stay out for several days, and must not return until they have a negative fecal test. For a kennel housing dozens of racing Greyhounds, this is a logistical nightmare. Adding to the problem is that if any new dogs coming into a kennel have Hookworms, the whole process starts again.
At Make Peace With Animals, we administer Drontal Plus to every incoming Greyhound. Drontal Plus is the most expensive de-wormer on the market and is considered the gold standard. We continue dosing for as long as they are in foster care and test Hookworm positive. Yet even with our best efforts, we, too struggle with eradicating Hookworms.
Some veterinarians think that standard de-wormers are no longer effective against Florida Hookworms, that the parasites have developed an immunity to the medication. After all, they reason, if a dose or two of a de-wormer can get rid of Hookworms in the typical family pet, it should work for Greyhounds coming off the track. Our experience is that they are still effective—but only if they are administered frequently enough. Often, we hear that veterinarians are recommending de-worming every three weeks. This is not often enough. Two weeks should be the maximum time between de-wormings. If an infestation is severe, ten days may be more appropriate. The particular type of Hookworm that comes from Florida is exceptionally aggressive and burrows deep into a dog’s intestines.
It is also hypothesized that the difficulty in eradicating Hookworms in Greyhounds may be physiological (the unique shape or size of Greyhound intestines), which allows the larvae to hide in the folds of the intestine. Again, de-wormings spaced no more than two weeks apart will be effective eventually.
Finally, the heavier the load of parasites, and the longer a dog has been carrying them, the harder it is to eradicate them. When you get your Greyhound’s fecal test result, do not settle for a simple ‘positive” or ‘negative’. Always ask to what extent the dog is affected. Positive results are rated from 1+ to 4+. This will give you a good idea of what you will be up against.
We suggest that adopters take a three-pronged approach to eradicating Hookworms in Greyhounds that have tested positive:
1/ continue regular de-worming (not longer than every two weeks), until the dog gets a negative fecal test result.
2/ if a Hookworm-positive dog uses a yard regularly, clean it faithfully after each elimination. You may also try treating the yard with a dog-safe, de-worming product such as borax, bleach, or even hot water. Bear in mind that this might well kill your lawn, too.
3/ use Advantage Multi as it has at least some preventative qualities. In the typical non-Greyhound family pet, Advantage Multi might be enough to kill Heartworm, plus any intestinal parasites; but with the heavy infestations of Hookworm that we see in some Greyhounds just off the track, the de-wormer in Advantage Multi is not strong enough and must be combined with concurrent de-worming. Once a Greyhound is Hookworm-free, Advantage-multi can prevent further problems.
Even at this, achieving a clean fecal result can easily be a months-long process.
Another approach is one used by a Greyhound breeder with 40+ years of experience. It is rare that a Greyhound coming directly from his farm has Hookworms. As he says of his protocol, “If this doesn’t get them, nothing will.”
To start, make sure that, apart from Hookworms, your Greyhound is healthy. Ask your veterinarian to administer a subcutaneous injection of liquid Ivermectin between the shoulder blades. If your vet doesn’t carry it, they can certainly order it. Dosage: 1/10th cc per 10 pounds of body weight, or 1 1/4cc for most males, ¾ cc for most females. Ten days later, begin a five-day course of Panacur, 1cc per 5 pounds of body weight. After that, have the stool examined.
Of course you should check with your veterinarian before trying any of the above approaches, but whatever you choose to do, it is important to persevere. This condition is not something that can be left untreated. A severe infestation can cause lethargy, diarrhea, lack of appetite, or worse.