There is a parasite lurking in our area that the public should be aware of, and that all dog owners can help to control. That parasite is called hookworm. Hookworm is found throughout the world, however, in Minnesota, we see two different species: Ancylostoma caninum and Uncinaria stenocephala which are both carried by dogs.
Hookworm disease is a terrible disease for both dogs and humans. It is zoonotic, meaning that it can be spread from dogs to humans (although indirectly as will be explained later).
Early in the disease, dogs may have no symptoms, but they can be spreading hookworm eggs in the stool and contaminating the environment. Later in the disease, patients will develop diarrhea and weight loss. Hookworms are voracious blood suckers. They attach to the intestinal lining and release an anti-coagulant to stimulating bleeding. Hookworm disease can cause anemia, and puppies that are exposed to hookworm as neonates can become so anemic that they die. Humans that are exposed to dog hookworm typically develop a skin rash. The migrating larvae leave red, itchy tracks under the surface of the skin.
History of the breed: Germany is credited with refining the breed, although it was seen in various parts of Europe in the 1700’s. Great Dane enthusiasts will tell you that there are 2 types of Danes, Danes that were bred to be estate Guard Dogs, and Danes that were bred to be hunting dogs.
A Dane that is meant to guard large estates has the job of being an imposing presence on the property. The Dane’s ears traditionally are cropped to give them an alert look, but at Westgate Pet Clinic we love the natural long ear. Because Danes were bred to relax around their owner’s property, they can make very good house dogs, even in apartments. They tend to sleep throughout the day, thus earning them the nickname, the “Gentle Giant”.
Danes were also bred to be used as boar hunters. Some Dane’s show more of this predatory drive and will sometimes tackle and pin smaller dogs. It is very important that your Dane be well trained and obedient because of its large size.
Health Concerns: As with many large breed dogs, Danes tend to have a shorter life expectancy. Problems known to arise in this breed are: