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Most of us can live with worms in our yard and even the odd one making its way onto the sidewalk, but inside of us? No thank you!
There are a number of parasitic worms that get inside you as larvae or eggs, hatch into thousands of worms and for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, eat your intestines and insides. Although not usually too serious, worms can cause serious discomfort, pain, and if left there could cause serious complications. Unfortunately, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms can also plague your dog’s insides in a similar fashion. But where does your dog contract the worms from? Could they actually pick up worms from your cat’s poop?
Can Dogs Get Worms From Cat Poop?
People may think worms could not survive in cat feces so they couldn’t infect your dog, but they absolutely can. The shell of worms eggs can be particularly hard and survive for a serious length of time on the ground in cat feces!
Does My Dog Have Worms?
If you are concerned your dog may have come into direct contact with your infected cat or other cats feces then you would be wise to keep an eye out for the following symptoms: Has your dog lost its appetite or a substantial amount of weight? Is your dog persistently vomiting or have diarrhea? Most importantly though, can you see worms in your dog’s vomit or stool? All of these can be serious indicators that you dog is harboring a worm infestation.
But what causes your dog to catch worms from cat feces? If your dog comes into direct contact with the eggs or larvae then they run the risk of infection. All your dog has to do is eat an infected cat’s feces and then the egg will hatch inside your dog and develop from there. Worms can lay thousands of eggs a day, so they can quickly wreak havoc on your dog’s insides!
Fortunately, diagnosing worms is relatively straightforward. Your vet will simply to take a fecal float and analyze the feces under a microscope. That will allow them to precisely identify what type of worm your dog has.
For more details on various worm conditions, check out our guide to Worm Infestations in Dogs.
How Do I Treat My Dog’s Worms?
The good news is, treating worms in your dog is a relatively hassle-free procedure. Treatment will focus on killing all the worms inside your dog and preventing a re-infection. To kill the worms, oral deworming medication will be prescribed. Medication often only kills adult worms though, so after a period of time another deworming dose is usually given to kill any more worms that have hatched and developed in that time.
The other task you will have as an owner is to keep your dog away from contaminated objects, such as your cat’s poop! This is not always as easy as it sounds...You will need to disinfect the dog’s and cat’s beds and living areas, plus clear up any cat feces as quickly as possible.
Recovering from worms usually takes at least several weeks, as multiple treatments are often needed. Your dog will need to rest in that time and try and keep its weight consistent. Unfortunately, there is no instant fix for worms, so be patient. Even when the worm infestation has been defeated though, it will not prevent another infection taking place.
For first-hand accounts from other owners and frequently answered questions from our trained in-house vets, read our guide to Deworming in Dogs.
How Are Worms Similar in Dogs, Humans and Other Animals?
There is a surprising number of similarities between the symptoms of worms in dogs, humans, cats and other animals. Some of the most striking similarities are as follows:
In dogs, humans, and cats you will usually be able to see the worms in the stools and vomit of those harboring wriggly guests.
Dogs, cats, and humans can all lose a significant amount of weight when hosting thousands of worms.
Worms eggs can survive in the intestines of dogs, cats, and other humans even if they have been giving worming tablets.
How Are Worms Different in Dogs, Humans and Other Animals?
There are a number of noticeable similarities between worm infestations then, but there are also a number of differences that are worth highlighting. Some of those differences are:
Whipworms in dogs and cats is a fairly common infestation, however, this worm is rarely seen in humans today.
Humans usually report severe abdominal pain as a result of worms, however, it is less clear whether dogs and cats also suffer from this symptom.
Worms can spread easily and do so often between dogs and cats, humans pick up the infections far less.
Fizzy was a 12-year-old chihuahua, who despite being smaller than the pet cat, was still extremely interested in its poop. A problem the owners thought was gross but not hugely problematic, until Fizzy caught worms shortly after the cat started displaying symptoms. Fortunately, the deworming medication took effect quickly and Fizzy was back to herself in less than a month. However, the owners had to work extremely hard to keep the house clean and disinfected, plus they had to try and always keep the animals in separate rooms and pick up any feces ASAP! This case demonstrated that dogs absolutely can pick up worms from cat poop and that a poop eating habit of your dog should definitely be deterred!