Many people ask their veterinarian, “Can humans get worms from dogs?” The answer is yes — we can certainly get intestinal parasites from our dogs or cats.
In this article, we’ll look at 3 common parasites: roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms.
Roundworm eggs are shed constantly by the infected dog (or, most commonly, puppy). If he licks his butt and then licks you, the contamination begins.
When you touch your mouth, you allow the eggs (unseen by your eyes) to enter your body. You or your children can also pick them up from infected dog poop in the backyard. Once they get in, they make their way into your intestines and grow — big time.
Occasionally, the worms will form a ball within the body and cause an intestinal blockage. This is when roundworms (Toxocara canis) stop being a minor issue and become a major problem. Usually, the person will notice the long, spaghetti-like parasites in their stools. (Yech!)
They’re pretty nasty, gross and definitely scary. Your doctor will prescribe roundworm medicine that will clear up the problem. If the worms ball up and create a blockage, surgery is often required to “unblock and remove” the worms. Oral treatment will need to follow that operation.
Next we’ll talk about hookworms and tapeworms, but first, here’s a veterinarian who will explain the basics of how dogs can transmit worms to people. Watch this, then we’ll tell you more of what you need to know:
These worms enter the human host usually through the skin. More often than not, the infestation occurs from the person walking through contaminated soil with bare feet.
A rash with incredible itching will be noticed at the site of entry. The person can experience diarrhea, weight loss and anemia.
Hookworms are not to be taken lightly. People have actually died from untreated hookworm infections. If you suspect an internal parasite infection, please seek medical help regardless of how embarrassed you feel.
It’s very rare, but transmission of the Dipylidium caninum tapeworm can occur if you were to swallow an infected flea (which is exactly how pets get tapeworms).
Proper sanitation will help decrease your risk of getting parasites from dogs. Do not walk barefoot where your dog poops. Wash your hands after petting a pet that has been diagnosed with parasites. Never let a puppy with worms sleep with you! The eggs can get into the bedding and invade your body. In a nutshell, be smart.
Can humans get worms from dogs? You bet.
Can it be cured? Indeed, treatment is usually simple.
Can a worm infection from a dog be fatal? Yes. If you suspect that you have parasites, seek medical advice pronto.
- PetEducation: Can people get worms from their pets?
- UGA College of Veterinary Medicine: How do dogs get worms?
- WebMD: Heartworms in dogs: facts and myths