Can You Get Worms From Dogs? What Science Says

Written by Susan Olayode
Published: August 17, 2022
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Many people sleep with their dogs. But where do we draw the line? Can cohabiting dogs be a health risk?

For the most part, no. You aren’t directly posing yourself at any health risk by living with a dog. Think of it as having a new roommate, except this one has four legs.

You can, however, get worms from dogs. Zoonotic infections are diseases that humans can get from animals. Worms attack humans and dogs, so if you’re not careful, you may contract one from your pet.

Catching worms from dogs is just like getting your daughter’s cough. If you know how it’s transmitted, you can stop it.

What Worms Can I Get From My Dog?

Roundworm 

Roundworms lay their eggs in the soil. If your dog has worms, it will pass some of their eggs in his feces. These eggs survive in the ground and continue to develop. Then, they wait until a host picks them up. You can become infected with roundworms by picking up objects from the floor and then putting your hands in your mouth. This may sound very unsanitary, but a lot of people do not wash their hands before digging into a bag of chips.

Dogs can also get roundworms when they eat uncooked food or food that hasn’t been adequately processed. Also, if you let your dog chase rats and squirrels, you may need to watch for roundworm infestation.  

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Hookworm

Hookworms are a bit easier to contract than roundworms. They have a mouth shaped like a hook, which they use to attach themselves to a human’s or dog’s stomach. Hookworm eggs hatch from feces, and they grow into filariform larva.

Hookworms can burrow into your blood through the skin. You may get hookworms by walking barefoot on the grass, especially when you walk close to your pooch’s favorite poo spot. Children are exposed to hookworms when they dig up a patch of soil or play in the sand.

Hydatid Tapeworm

Hydatid tapeworms prefer dogs to humans, but they’ll infect a human anyways, even temporarily. A hydatid infestation can be life-threatening. In some cases, humans show no symptoms for months, even years. Humans get hydatid tapeworms when they contact eggs in their infective stages. These eggs are excreted along with the dog’s poop.

Dogs get these tapeworms when they eat the intestines of sheep or cattle, called offal or variety meat. Oddly, the hydatid tapeworm causes no harm to dogs. In humans, they may cause abnormal organ function, organ pressure, and spontaneous bone fracture.

Hydatid tapeworms may form cystic echinococcosis, which we call Hydatid disease.

Whipworm

Whipworms are transmitted just like roundworms and hookworms. However, they are much harder to get rid of. 

The adult whipworm lives in the large intestine of a dog or human. The female whipworm lays un-embryonated eggs in the feces. These eggs are hardened and can last up to five years, waiting to be picked up by an appropriate host. 

The female whipworm lays hundreds of eggs every day. A single whipworm may only live for about a year, but they replicate at an alarming rate. 

You may notice a relapse three months after treating a whipworm infection. The best way to get rid of stubborn worms like whipworms is to take a second dose of deworming medicine two weeks after the first one. The second dose targets leftover worms and their eggs. 

Heartworm

Dogs get heartworms when an infected mosquito bites them. The larva migrates to your pet’s heart and occupies the pulmonary vessels. Heartworms are pretty lethal and can cause severe damage to a dog’s organs, especially the lung. Symptoms of a heartworm infection only show when the worm must have found a spot in your dog’s arteries and veins. 

Fortunately, heartworms can’t feed off humans for long. They rarely ever make it to the heart before dying off. In humans, heartworms remain close to the skin, unable to develop into adult worms. They may cause pain and discomfort. 

How Do Dogs Get Worms?

Dogs with lots of outdoor activities are more prone to infection than indoor pups. Nonetheless, your dogs may pick up something wiggly when you take them on a walk. You should be aware of these sources of contamination:

  1. Rolling in contaminated soil: If your dog gets excrement containing worms stuck on their fur, they may lick it off while grooming. This will introduce the larva to their system. 
  2. Consuming infected prey: Dogs love to chase rats, but if they catch one, they may get sick. If your dog kills rodents, don’t let them eat their game. 
  3. Sniffing poop and vomit: Even though poop itself won’t hurt your dog’s bowels, it’s still a nasty and inappropriate snack. Your dog picks up worms most easily from poking its nose into poop or vomit. 
  4. Mosquito, ticks, and flea bites 
  5. Licking an infected dog
  6. Drinking contaminated milk from its mother

How Do I Know if My Dog Has Worms?

Early detection is key. These signs may tell you that your dog has worms

  1. Weight loss, especially if your pet’s diet remains the same and its appetite is as usual 
  2. A shabby coat and dull appearance 
  3. Scooting and licking its butt
  4. Bloody stools that sometimes contain mucus
  5. Vomiting, which may include blood or worm segments
  6. Weakness
  7. Bloated belly
  8. Lethargy 

How Do You Get Rid of Worms in Dogs?

Worms are a serious health threat. Make an appointment with your vet immediately. If the infection is left to fester, the worms may damage organs like the heart or lungs. 

When you contact your vet, he may ask for a stool sample. Even if you can’t see any worms in your dog’s poo, your vet may be able to do so when they examine the specimen under their microscope. 

Your vet will then recommend therapy based on the type of worm, its stage of development, and the degree of infestation. He may prescribe an oral dewormer or an injection. 

While undergoing therapy (and sometimes after), you may notice more worms in your dog’s feces. Don’t worry! This means that the worms have detached from the walls of your pet’s intestines, and they’re exiting his bowels. 

Can My Dog Get Worms From Me?

When humans get tapeworms, they’re usually not the hydatid variety. Regular human tapeworms cannot infect a dog. 

However, if you get a worm from your dog, it is possible to pass it back to your dog, even after it has been treated. 

So yes, you may be responsible for your dog’s relapse. 

If you’d like to know more about how dogs get worms, click here

Conclusion

In a nutshell, you can get worms from your dog. You can also give your dog worms. However, most worms are transmitted through unsanitary pet habits like leaving poop lying around or letting your dog play in contaminated soil. 

You can protect yourself and your dog by cleaning up frequently and deworming your entire family. Pets included. 

Up Next

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Gonzalo Jara/Shutterstock.com

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can I touch my puppy if he has worms?

Yes, you can. Your dogs don’t have to be quarantined, but you would do well to avoid contact with their feces and saliva until they’ve been treated.

What are the symptoms of roundworm infestation in humans?

The most common symptoms are diarrhea and fever. Roundworms also cause cough, restlessness, abdominal pain, and malnutrition.

How do I clean my house if my dog has worms?

There are chances that your furniture and surfaces carry worm eggs. You can disinfect your house by making a solution of one part bleach and thirty parts clean water. This solution effectively disinfects everything, including your dog’s space and food bowls.

Can you feel worms in your bum?

Your anus may get really itchy at night because this is when the worm lays her eggs. Don’t satisfy the itch, though; it’s all a tactic to spread her eggs far and wide.

Your anus may get really itchy at night because this is when the worm lays her eggs. Don’t satisfy the itch, though; it’s all a tactic to spread her eggs far and wide.

Some worms may get uncomfortable and leave, but only if you have a healthy diet and lifestyle. The immune system may also attack them and make them look for greener pastures. However, some worms, such as pinworms, do not budge. You need an antihelminthic medication to get rid of them.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Pet Basics, Available here: https://www.petbasics.com/parasites/intestinal-worms/questions-you-should-ask-your-vet-about-dog-worms/&usg=AOvVaw3K_w0-WOxUQC7QgLN0ZDIR
  2. Advantage Pet Care, Available here: https://www.advantagepetcare.com.au/au/parasites/can-i-catch-worms-my-pet/
  3. Nexgard, Available here: https://nexgard.com.au/parasite/intestinal-worms/can-you-get-worms-your-dog
  4. Pet Basics, Available here: https://www.petbasics.com/parasites/intestinal-worms/can-i-catch-worms-from-my-dog-or-cat/