Dogs can be curious creatures. Sometimes, that curiosity can get them into trouble.
One example of this is when they eat earthworms or other insects.
Here are some tips on what to do if your dog ate an earthworm.
- Is Earthworm Deadly To Dogs?
- How Do I Know If My Dog Has Eaten An Earthworm?
- What Happens If A Dog Eats Earthworm?
- My Dog Ate A Earthworm – What Should I Do?
- What Are The Treatments For Earthworm Poisoning?
- What You Can Do To Protect Your Pet
Is Earthworm Deadly To Dogs?
Dogs can eat as many earthworms in a day that they would like and nothing bad will happen.
However, if dogs eat too many earthworms or earthworms that contain certain chemicals, it could be deadly to them.
The reason is that worms have tiny tubes along their bodies filled with compounds called nematodes. These nematodes are the larvae of Ascaris worms.
Your dog’s stomach acids will kill the worm but not before some of the nematodes have been released into their digestive tract where they can then infect your pet’s internal organs, such as the liver and kidneys.
This is what causes so many problems for dogs after eating earthworms – hence why it is important to monitor how many worms your dog eats and to seek veterinary assistance if you are concerned your dog has eaten too many.
If your dog’s stools smell bad – like ammonia, or if they begin vomiting up worms in addition to their normal stools or develop a potbelly and cannot pass stool normally, these are all signs that the worm population in your pet have exploded – and it is time to call the vet immediately.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has Eaten An Earthworm?
This is actually quite simple. The best way to tell if your dog ate an earthworm is by watching them eat them.
Dogs will dig holes under lawns after eating worms so be sure to check out any fresh holes when they first appear and keep an eye on where your dog likes to snack on earthworms.
If you are not sure your dog ate a worm after watching them do so, there are other ways to tell that they may have done so:
Their breath will smell like ammonia and will probably be quite bad; their stool and vomit will be full of worms or worm remnants in addition to the normal contents; your pet dog’s skin and coat may become oily looking as well.
These all indicate that something is wrong with your pet and will require immediate veterinary assistance to deal with it.
What Happens If A Dog Eats Earthworm?
If your dog has eaten an earthworm, it is important to see a vet immediately. Earthworms can make dogs seriously ill.
Here are some of the problems that can occur if your dog eats an earthworm:
1) Ascaridol poisoning
Earthworms contain a chemical called ascaridole which is poisonous to dogs and cats.
If your dog has eaten more than one worm, he or she may become ill with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, fever, and distress in their abdominal area will be present.
Seizures can also occur if the animal ingested enough worms. Some symptoms seen in poisoned animals include confusion, lack of appetite, and drooling.
2) Worm infestation
Not all worms are bad for pets, and some are even good for your dog.
However, dogs that eat earthworms or worms from the ground may also ingest parasites like roundworms which can cause serious problems in a dog.
Roundworm eggs need to be eaten by the host animal to infect them. Some of these symptoms from worm infestation include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss.
3) Pinworm infection
if your pet eats an earthworm that is infected with pinworms, he or she will become ill with anal itching and excessive scratching around the rectal area.
In very rare cases where multiple worms have been ingested, they can migrate to other parts of the body causing illness in various locations such as in the esophagus or mouth leading to difficulty swallowing or breathing.
4) Tapeworm infection
This type of worm is the most common intestinal parasite found in both humans and dogs.
They are known to infect dogs that eat earthworms. This condition is identified by segments of the worms being passed through your dog’s feces or vomit.
The location where they attach themselves, such as the stomach wall or small intestines, can become irritated and swollen causing symptoms like diarrhea, weight loss and malnutrition, anemia (low red blood cell count), vomiting, and appetite loss.
5) Various other illnesses
If your dog eats enough earthworms he or she may be at risk for poisoning from ingesting toxic plants (when you take your pup outside beware of poisonous plants), getting into harmful substances that could cause illness or death, and even getting hit by vehicles.
My Dog Ate A Earthworm – What Should I Do?
If you suspect your dog ate an earthworm (or more than one), contact your veterinarian immediately.
Because ascaridole poisoning does not occur right away, it is possible that your dog will seem fine after eating the worms but then become ill a few hours later.
Having the doctor examine your pet as soon as possible will enable treatment to start sooner and reduce the amount of toxin in his or her system.
The following steps should be taken if your dog eats an earthworm:
1) Contact a vet
even if you don’t see any symptoms just yet, call a vet immediately to get advice on what you should do next.
Your veterinarian will advise you depending on the circumstances such as whether or not there is time before symptoms develop, how many earthworms were eaten, etc.
He or she will also let you know if there are any other treatments that should be considered while waiting for their evaluation so that they can effectively help your dog get well again.
2) Prepare for an examination
Take note of your pet’s health history before you take him or her to the vet.
Bring along any medications they are currently taking, their medical records, and a fecal sample in case it is needed as part of an examination or testing.
3) Be prepared for treatment
If your dog ate an earthworm you will need to be prepared for treatment that may include flushing out your pet’s digestive tract by administering fluids either under the skin (subcutaneously) or into the mouth/body cavity (intravenously).
Your pet may also require medication such as anti-parasitic drugs. He or she may also need antibiotics if other illnesses arise from eating the worm.
4) Keep watch over symptoms
Watch for symptoms of illness and have your dog re-examined as directed by the vet.
5) Look out for worms
Watch your pet’s feces to see if any worms are present and bring them along when you take him or her back to the veterinarian.
If worm segments are seen, this will help your veterinarian determine what type of parasite could be causing illness in your pet.
There is a wide range of parasites that can be potentially acquired through eating earthworms so it is very important that you contact a veterinarian right away if you notice your dog has eaten an earthworm and treatment begins as recommended.
Be careful not to let this happen again! Some ways you can keep this from happening include keeping all pets indoors, making sure to check with a before letting your pet outside, and keeping them away from local sites where earthworms are attracted to.
5) Look for any other signs of illness
Keep an eye out for vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, or gain (if he or she is losing weight it could be a sign that ascaridole is being absorbed in the digestive tract), anemia, lethargy, malaise, tremors (especially involving the jaw muscle), difficulty breathing (especially at night when sleeping), seizures, behavior changes such as aggression or depression/lethargy atypical of their usual personality.
It may also be helpful to take notice if your pet has been scratching excessively as there are toxic plants that can cause irritation which leads to itching.
What Are The Treatments For Earthworm Poisoning?
If your dog has ingested earthworms, it is important to take him or her to the vet right away.
Depending on how many worms were eaten, time of ingestion (how long ago), and the number of worms that were not vomited up, some treatment options may include:
- Throwing up the worm out through induced vomiting.
- The administration of activated charcoal prevents poisons from being absorbed into body tissues; this can help to eliminate ascaridole poisoning in dogs.
- Intravenous fluids for several days to flush out any remaining worm components in your dog’s stomach.
- Anti-emetic and anti-vomiting medications may be prescribed to animals that have consumed too many worms or if they are experiencing signs of vomiting and ascaridole poisoning.
- Anti-parasitic medication is given to kill any worms being carried by your dog. This will include both internal (worm eggs in the intestines) and external (skin parasites such as fleas) parasites that were ingested when he or she ate earthworms. Some of these medications cause abdominal pain, problems with appetite, nausea, diarrhea, itching, weight loss, and even death in some dogs. Make sure you speak with your vet prior to using for the first time since there can be side effects from using these medications.
- For any animal that has ingested earthworms or worms, it is important to watch for symptoms of illness and bring your pet in right away to treat them. If an animal’s health is being affected by eating an earthworm, immediate medical attention will be needed. The veterinarian may need to perform blood tests, run X-rays, or make a physical examination of the stomach area to check for parasites and other problems caused by the ingestion of worms.
- Contact your veterinarian if you see any signs of illness in your dog, like decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea (more than normal), lethargy or depression, increased thirst or urination (more frequent), bloody stools (with inflammation) due to worm infestation in your dog’s intestines, or any other unusual symptoms.
What You Can Do To Protect Your Pet
There are steps you can take to help decrease the number of worms and other parasites in your yard which will help protect pets from accidentally eating them:
1) Avoid using an insecticide on the lawn – insecticides kill both good and bad insects, so avoiding them will leave less harmful bugs for pets to eat.
2) Be aware of what dogs like to snack on – once you know which parts of the garden are the most popular for your pet, you can snip some of those flowers and plants off before they go inside the house.
3) Put some deterrents in place – a few inexpensive options to keep pets away from the plants you don’t want them eating include using chicken wire, placing wire mesh on top of raised planters, or installing an electric fence. For other ideas on how to deter or train your dog read here.
4) Make sure you have proper fencing – dogs are curious so make sure there is no way they can get out of your yard or garden. This includes adding extra fencing around raised beds if needed. Dogs can also dig under fences so you may need to take additional steps to prevent them from getting out including putting a tarp or extra fence on the ground.
5) Plant flowers for your pet – you can plant some dog and cat-friendly flowers that will also help keep your lawn and garden free of weeds and bugs.
6) Keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date – regular vaccinations prevent dogs from contracting diseases like parvo, distemper, and hepatitis which are spread through contact with other animals’ feces. These diseases cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs so keeping them vaccinated helps protect them against illness caused by worms too.
7) Pick up poop – a single worm egg needs at least 9 days to mature into an adult parasite but only 5 days for roundworm eggs to mature. By removing worm eggs from the yard, you are cutting down the number of eggs that can mature and cause illness in pets.
8) Wash your hands after gardening – you may not have come into contact with worms but there are other nasty critters lurking in the yard like fleas, ticks, mites, and mosquitoes which can spread disease. Make sure to wash your hands when you finish working outside so you don’t accidentally pass on any of those harmful bugs to yourself or someone else.
Dogs should NEVER eat earthworms!
They can become very ill and even die if they ingest enough earthworms because they contain a chemical called ascaridole.
If your dog ingests an earthworm or more than one worm, contact your veterinarian immediately for treatment recommendations.