There are many different types of internal parasites your puppy or dog can and probably will acquire during their lifetime. Even every pampered pooches that never roam around outdoors, riffle through the trash for snacks or chew on old bones they find out in the park are still at risk for developing internal parasite problems. Some parasites are actually passed from mother to the puppies, while others can be transported by unsuspecting people that pet one dog and then have contact with another dog. This is especially true with puppies that tend to mouth and lick, however some adult dogs are known for those bad habits as well, so eggs and even microscopic parasites can easy pass from dog to dog or dog to dog via humans.
There are the very well known worms such as the roundworms or tapeworms, which may be the easiest to detect since they are commonly seen around the animals anus or in the feces. Unlike these two larger parasite varieties, whipworms and hookworms are rarely seen in any waste materials from the dog's body, plus they are so tiny that even if they were present most people wouldn't realize they were a concern.
Understanding how whipworms and hookworms are introduced into the dog as well as following a good, routine worming program are the best options for preventing any serious conditions. It is rare that whipworms or hookworms alone can cause life-threatening illnesses, however if the dog already has an illness, blood related disease or digestive disorder or disease worms can often push that condition to the fatal point.
Whipworms can only enter your dog's digestive system through one possible mode, and that is if the dog or puppy actually eats the eggs of the whipworm. Keep in mind that these eggs are too small to be seen with the naked eye and are found all over the ground, at least wherever an infected dog has left fecal material. The eggs are extremely resilient to temperature changes and can live for weeks, months or even years within their protective shell out on the ground.
Puppies and dogs walk through public parks, dog trails or just on the sidewalk and the eggs catch in the rough pads of their feet or in the hairs around the feet. When the dog or puppy licks their feet, a routine cleaning exercise for most dogs, the worms are unknowingly ingested. Dogs and puppies can also consume the worms when they play with a toy that has been dropped on an infected piece of grass or soil, or even by drinking water or eating out of a bowl that an infected dog has used.
Dogs or puppies won't immediately have whipworms after eating the eggs. The eggs will remain in the digestive tract for up to three months before they hatch as larvae that will immediately attach themselves to the lining of the digestive tract. At this time they can really cause problems as they literally live off the dog's blood. Since there is a huge blood system to carry nutrients from the digestive tract to the body, there is abundant food for the whipworms to grow, multiple and thrive in the digestive system.
The most common signs of a whipworm problem often take a fairly significant time period to develop and by this time the dog is usually anemic, has chronic diarrhea and will have lost considerable amounts of weight. The anemia combined with diarrhea is the most serious health concern as dehydration, poor coat condition, failure to thrive and even neurological problems can all occur in conjunction with extreme cases of whipworm infestations. Typically dogs that have whipworms will also have other types of worms, which only complicates matters. Whipworms can be seen in the fecal material but only under close examination. They appear like short pieces of thread, about the same thickness, but one end is slightly rounded or club-like in shape.
The good news is that the vet prescribed worming treatments that are extremely effective in eliminating whipworms from the dog's intestinal tract. Worming on a routine basis prevents large numbers of worms from ever gaining a stronghold in the intestines. Whipworms are rarely if ever transferred to humans, however it can occur.
Hookworms are similar to whipworms in that they can enter into the dog's system through ingestion of the eggs. Unlike whipworms, hookworms can also enter through the skin. If the dog walks through soil that is contaminated with hookworm larvae, they can latch onto the pads of the feet and the soft tissue between the toes and burrow into the skin. Dogs may then lick their feet and ingest eggs and larvae or they can simply burrow through the flesh until they reach the intestines.
Puppies can also get hookworms from the mother dog, either when they are in the uterus or through the milk from the mother. In both cases the migrating larvae is what the puppy will end up being contaminated with, which means they are ready to start feasting on the puppy's intestinal system. Hookworms, like whipworms, attach themselves to the digestive system lining and draw blood from the rich supply on the other side of the intestines.
In puppies a significant hookworm infestation is often fatal in a very short period of time. Good breeders will treat the mother dogs during pregnancy to prevent her from passing worms to the puppies before birth or during nursing. Older dogs will not typically be seriously affected however they will have similar symptoms to whipworms. This can include lack of energy, poor stamina and physical ability, bloody diarrhea, anemia and very poor coat conditions. These dogs will often eat huge amounts of food but continue to lose weight or do poorly.
Humans need to be very careful to control hookworms in dogs since these worms will burrow into human flesh as well. While they will not migrate to the intestines, they burrow around under the skin, resulting in an extremely uncomfortable condition known as cutaneous larval migrans. The burrowing under the skin is reported to cause a crawling or wiggling sensation and is often referred to as creeping eruptions. Besides just being annoying, this condition can lead to scaring of the skin and serious infections, especially in smaller children. The larvae will eventually die in the skin, often leading to further infections.
Immediate removal of fecal material and ensuring that dogs are routinely wormed for these small but serious parasites is the best possible general preventative treatment.