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Name: Kelli
Status: Other
Grade: Other
Location: NH
Date: 8/2/2005 

My dog has been diagnosed with hookworm. What chemicals can I put on my lawn to kill the larvae so we can all be safe? I did ask my vet. He said to ask at Home Depot. They didn't know and said to ask my vet. I even called a local lawn care service, and they weren't sure either. Thanks for responding. Please let me know if you can think of anything.

Hi Kelli,

Interesting question! As veterinarians, we usually focus on how to treat worms in pets and then recommend to owners that they wear shoes in the yard, but we don't talk a lot about your questions, which are very relevant. From my search through references, I couldn't find a product to recommend. One difficulty is that there are a lot of soil nematodes in your yard that help in decomposition which you don't really want to kill.

Hookworm larvae have been known to survive at least 4 weeks in summer, and like sandy soil, but are sensitive to drying, sunlight and don't survive the winter in cold climates. Additionally, studies that have looked at parks, picnic areas, beaches and other public places have found hookworms and other worms to be quite common. Fortunately, we humans don't pick them up too often.

When human infection does occur with dog hookworms, it is usually an itchy skin rash on areas that were in contact with the soil. But, it is more bothersome than really dangerous.

So, the best advice is to do as you've done and be sure that your dog has been cleared of hookworms. Some of the heartworm preventatives will also help keep your dog from becoming reinfected with hookworms. Pick up and dispose of all the feces that you can find (wearing gloves). Wear shoes or sandals when outside and wash hands (and feet) after contact with soil. The risk of human infection is pretty small and will continue to decrease in your yard over time.

Laura Hungerford DVM, MPH, PhD
University of Maryland
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