Uncinaria spp

From Dog
Light microscopy view of U. stenocephala egg
Adult U. stenocephala under light microscopy[1]

Uncinaria spp are a relatively small parasitic small-intestinal nematode hookworm of dogs found primarily in the northern hemisphere and commonly reported in Europe[2].

Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:

  • Uncinaria stenocephala

Uncinaria are a common intestinal helminth routine found in epidemiological surveys and in adult dogs are commonly found in co-infections with other intestinal nematodes such as Toxocara canis[3], Toxascaris leonina and Anyclostoma caninum[4].

This parasite has a direct life cycle with dogs becoming infected through ingestion of eggs in soil and coat hair, or through skin penetration by infective larvae[5]. Sharp rostral teeth are used for attachment and anticoagulant peptides are used by this nematode to feed on their host[6]. Eggs are activated through gastric proteolytic enzymes and larvae penetrate the mucosa of the intestine and undergo extensive tissue migration throughout the body before residing in the distal ileum[7], where they reproduce and shed eggs[8]. The eggs pass in the feces and hatch in the soil as first-stage larvae, surviving over winter feeding on bacteria and molt twice to form the non-feeding, infective third stage[9].

Infections in young dogs normally result in characteristic underweight, pot-bellied puppies, which are often anemic. Deaths associated with heavy infestations in young dogs is relatively rare.

Adult dogs are usually asymptomatically infected, although poor coat, unthriftiness[10], polyphagia, pedal dermatitis[11] and anemia can also occur[12].

Diagnosis is usually based on coprological examinations using fecal floatation devices[13]. Supportive diagnosis can be made with ELISA assays of feces and blood samples, and PCR assays can be used for accurate speciation of the parasite[14].

Treatment is usually effective with milbemycin oxime[15], emodepside[16], moxidectin[17], ivermectin[18] and most proprietary benzimidazoles[19] or thiophenes (e.g. febantel).


  1. Pennsylvania Vet Medicine
  2. Górski P et al (1996) Occurrence of the nematode Uncinaria stenocephala in dogs from the Warsaw region. Wiad Parazytol 42(2):221-227
  3. Gholami I et al (2011) Seroepidemiological survey of helminthic parasites of stray dogs in Sari City, northern Iran. Pak J Biol Sci 14(2):133-137
  4. Xhaxhiu D et al (2011) Principal intestinal parasites of dogs in Tirana, Albania. Parasitol Res 108(2):341-353
  5. Rep BH (1979) Uncinaria stenocephala infections in dogs in the Netherlands. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd 104(11):475-478
  6. Kotomski G & Wedrychowicz H (2001) Preliminary analysis of the proteolytic enzymes in the excretory-secretory products of the adult stages of the dog hookworm Uncinaria stenocephala. Parasite 8(1):67-70
  7. Rep BH & Bos R (1979) Epidemiological aspects of Uncinaria stenocephala infections in the Netherlands. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd 104(19):747-758
  8. Bowman, DD (2009) Georgis' parasitology for veterinarians. 9th edn. Elsevier Saunders, Missouri. pp:179-181
  9. Jacobs DE (1976) Studies on the epidemiology of Uncinaria stenocephala infections in British greyhounds: seasonal availability of larvae on grass runs. Res Vet Sci 21(2):238-239
  10. Pearson GR et al (1982) Uncinariasis in kennelled foxhounds. Vet Rec 110(14):328-331
  11. Smith BL & Elliott DC (1969) Canine pedal dermatitis due to percutaneous Uncinaria stenocephala infection. N Z Vet J 17(12):235-239
  12. Walker MJ & Jacobs DE (1983) Epidemiology of Uncinaria stenocephala infections in greyhound breeding kennels. Vet Parasitol 10(4):317-321
  13. Walker MJ & Jacobs DE (1981) Studies on the epidemiology of Uncinaria stenocephala infections in British greyhounds: development and persistence of larvae on herbage. Res Vet Sci 31(2):264-265
  14. Postigo I et al (2003) Uncinaria stenocephala: antigenic characterization of larvae and adults worms using sera from naturally infected dogs. Exp Parasitol 103(3-4):171-173
  15. Shoop WL et al (1993) Anthelmintic activity of milbemycin oxime against adult and immature Uncinaria stenocephala in dogs. Aust Vet J 70(5):187-188
  16. Altreuther G et al (2009) Field evaluation of the efficacy and safety of emodepside plus praziquantel tablets (Profender tablets for dogs) against naturally acquired nematode and cestode infections in dogs. Parasitol Res 105(1):S23-S29
  17. Bowman DD et al (2003) Persistent efficacy of moxidectin canine sustained-release injectable against experimental infections of Ancylostoma caninum and Uncinaria stenocephala in dogs. Vet Ther 4(3):228-233
  18. Daurio CP et al (1993) Efficacy of ivermectin in a beef-based chewable formulation against Ancylostoma caninum and Uncinaria stenocephala in dogs. J Parasitol 79(5):768-770
  19. Alcaíno H (1970) Tetramizole and thiabendazole in the treatment of dogs experimentally infected with Uncinaria stenocephala (Railliet, 1884) (Nematoda: Ancylostomidae). Bol Chil Parasitol 25(3):110-113