Help! My Dog Ate A Worm

Help! My Dog Ate A Worm

Last Updated: August 18, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

In and of themselves, worms aren’t toxic or poisonous to your dog. Dogs will not die from eating worms in the same way that they will die from eating too many cherry stones or eating peanut butter with xylitol. The danger from earthworms comes from parasites that they might carry in them or on them.

The purpose of this article is to explain “Help! My Dog Ate A Worm“.

The strangest and most disgusting things do dogs and puppies eat do not they?

Thus if your dog eats a worm what should you do?

Help! My Dog Ate A Worm

Could you please refrain from vomiting with disgust?

I personally cannot handle the sight of an earthworm so on the few occasions where my dogs have eaten them I have become very angry very quickly.

The chances of your dog becoming ill as a result of eating earthworms are very slim if they eat them occasionally.

In the end an earthworm is just a muscle. There is no skeleton (as we have) or exoskeleton (as most insects do).

Muscle is just another form of protein isnot it?

The worm itself has nothing to fear for your dog but I will talk later about some of the unpleasant company worms keep.

For now I want to examine why a dog might want to eat a worm in the first place?

Why do dogs eat earthworms?

There are many dogs that are opportunistic scavengers.

Whenever they get the chance they will eat various food items and edible objects. 

It is known that some dogs suffer from a medical condition known as Pica which occurs when dogs routinely eat non-food items such as their owners underwear or socks.

The reason some dogs with pica eat these items is that they are so malnourished that they will eat anything to make up for their lack of nutrition. 

Another dog with pica eats boxer shorts because it can not stand being left alone by its owners.

Pica does not necessarily mean that your dog is eating earthworms although it could be a good indicator of how well they are eating.

After I have explained why dogs might eat earthworms in more detail it is time to find out whether occasionally eating a side of worms is completely safe. 

Why might worms be toxic/ poisonous for dogs to eat?

In and of themselves worms are not toxic or poisonous to your dog.

Dogs will not die from eating worms in the same way that they will die from eating too many cherry stones or eating peanut butter with xylitol. 

The danger from earthworms comes from parasites that they might carry in them or on them. 

There are three parasites that are particularly dangerous.

The first is the giant kidney worm the eggs of which are eaten by earthworms.

The embryos in the worm will grow into worms that can be up to 40 cm in length and are extremely dangerous to your dog because they could stop his kidney from working. 

The second is Capillaria plica and this worm eventually ends up in your dogs kidneys or bladder. 

These worms are not life-threatening and only cause minor symptoms although your dog may have blood in its urine or have difficulty controlling its bladder. 

Roundworm is the third type. Puppies are particularly vulnerable to it because their mothers carry it. 

Any dog that is infested with one of these worms will require a trip to the vet for a course of oral deworming tablets.

How can I stop my dog from eating worms?

We know all there is to know about worms so keeping your dog from eating seems a very wise decision.

There are two ways to deal with this in my opinion.

Make sure that your dogs diet is adequate and provides him with all the nutrients he needs.

You need to implement worm training once you have done that. 

The best type of training is to praise the behavior you want (which is for your dog to not eat worms) and use a stern verbal command if they decide to eat worms!

Due to the fact that it involves eating it can be quite challenging.

This means that you must always be close to your dog ready to jump in at any moment.

When your dog starts to eat worms they should stop when they hear a short sharp “No!” from you.

In the early stages however this is unlikely to work since it is food and so delicious to them. 

If they refuse to respond to a “no” command you can just grab their collar if you are close to them. 

Distraction is another technique that can be used.

You can distract them with their favorite chew toy or throw a ball for them when they duck their heads down to start eating worms. 

Any training must be repeated countless times in order to be effective. This requires a lot of practice. 

Why does my dog roll on worms?

I have never come across something like this before.

Dogs roll on and in all kinds of unpleasant things but scientists are not quite sure why.

They believe it goes back to a time when they were hunting for food and needed to mask their own scents.

Some researchers believe that it is because dogs are attracted to strong smells much like humans are to perfume or aftershave.

All of this does not explain why dogs roll on worms.

I allow one of my dogs to roll on any stick that I throw for her and she does this to claim the stick as her own.

Can this explain why a dog might roll over a worm? To claim it as food?

Maybe they rolled them to flatten them out so they would be easier to eat?

Could it be that they are not intentionally rolling on the worm at all?

Those worms just happened to be next to a pile of horse poop or fox poop.

It was for this reason that the dog rolled!

Are our wax worms or slow worms poisonous for dogs?

Europe and Africa are the native habitats of the slow worm. The US does not appear to have such an organism. 

Although slow worms are not toxic to dogs they do carry internal parasites two of which are neoxysomatium brevicaudatum and entomelas entomelas. But I cannot find any information about these parasites let alone if they are harmful to a dog who eats a slow worm.

It is interesting to note that slow worms shed their tails when threatened by predators.

Therefore if you see your dog with a twitching tail he might not have eaten the slow worm at all. 

However wax worms are slightly different in that many people who fish keep them as bait and many reptile owners keep them as food.

Even though wax worms are not ideal snacks for your dog worms that have been bought as food or bait might be cleaner and have fewer parasites than worms that have been crawling around in the soil!

Can a dog poop out a worm?

To conclude let me clear up a misunderstanding.

Dogs that eat worms do not poop out those worms that they ate.

In the dogs stomach an earthworm is broken down and digested.

Your dog is probably pooping out parasitic worms not earthworms.

A bit confusing since your dog could have been infected with parasitic worms from an earthworm or they might have been infected with parasitic worms for a different reason entirely such as by eating cat poop or dog poop. 

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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