I was playing with my dogs and kids the other day and wondered to myself whether dogs can transfer worms to humans, are my kids or myself at risk of getting parasites from our dogs? Despite speaking with our pediatrician and being told worms in children are rare, it seems it is worth some consideration.
Read on to learn more!
Disease from Dog Worms
The thought of having a dog worm transfer to any human let alone anyone in your family is cause for concern, however, it is really the disease caused by the dog worm that one should consider.
With 54% of American households in the U.S. have dogs as family members and 84% of those millennials it is important to consider whether dog worms can transfer to humans and if so, the disease they cause. Here at The Popular Pets, we know dogs are the most popular pet in America for good reason and also know that with proper management a healthy and fun environment can be had by all.
What is a Zoonotic Disease?
According to the CDC a zoonotic disease is a disease spread between animals and people. Certain zoonotic diseases are caused by parasites or worms but zoonotic diseases can also be caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The symptoms of a zoonotic disease vary, certain people with zoonotic infections can be very sick with diarrhea, muscle aches, and fever but some people have no symptoms and do not ever get sick.
Pets can carry and pass parasites to people which can lead to a zoonotic disease. Young animals, such as puppies and kittens, are more likely to be infected with roundworms and hookworms which are transferable to humans. and each other.
Do Dog Worms Transfer to Humans?
Yes, dog worms transfer to humans and can cause zoonotic disease. There are many dog worms that can transfer to humans that our dogs carry with them or get from proximity or consumption of other wildlife, from each other or from the environment. Worms such as tapeworms, giardia and roundworms and hookworms all transfer to humans.
What worms or parasites in dogs can transfer to humans?
Certain worms in dogs may transfer to people causing zoonotic disease. Worms may also transfer between dogs and cats. Worms or parasites that transfer to humans include:
Dog Intestinal Roundworms and Hookworms
Infection of humans by the common roundworms of dogs and cats can occur in humans who accidentally ingest infective eggs from contaminated environments. According to DVM 360, infections with hookworms remain common in dogs and cats, with the highest prevalence in the southern United States, mainly in coastal areas from southern New Jersey to the Florida Keys and westward along the Gulf of Mexico to Texas.
The most common way that the roundworms and hookworms are transferred to humans is from contact with moist or wet sand or loam soil containing the larvae of hookworms from the feces of dogs and cats, usually in unprotected sandboxes, and on beaches.
Zoonotic tapeworm infections associated with dogs and cats include flea tapeworm. This dog worm transfers to humans and is most commonly acquired when a person, usually a young child, accidentally ingests a flea carrying the larval stage of the tapeworm. Pets can get tapeworm from eating wildlife.
Giardia is a bit different and is a protozoan parasite that infects the intestinal tract of many animal species including humans. This dog worm is transferred to humans by environmentally resistant cysts that are passed in the feces of infected animals or contaminated water, which are immediately infective if ingested by humans.
According to DVM 360, Giardia can cause acute gastrointestinal signs as well as chronic disease in humans, Giardia species infections are common in dogs and cats throughout North America
Parasites can cause Zoonotic disease but interestingly at the same time, according to Dr. Peter Schantz, none of the zoonotic parasitic infections acquired from dogs and cats are reportable diseases in the United States; consequently, no systematically collected data on the frequency of these zoonotic parasitic infections exist.
So when you ask at your next Dr.’s appointment about the prevalence of parasites and zoonotic disease your pediatrician or doctor may not truly know but you can always test your dog yourself for parasites and watch for signs and symptoms of a parasite infection in your dog.
Proper testing for parasite infection and parasite management is the best way to care for your family.
Accordingly, awareness of the worms and disease is essential to keep your pets and family safe and healthy and to provide preventive care.
You May also be interested in 5 Reasons Your Senior May be Losing Weight
Dog Worms and Humans FAQs
Yes, you can get worms from your dog if they lick you! Parasites like hookworm, roundworm, and giardia can be passed from dog to human through licking. Even though your dog may be licking you for various reasons they can still be transmitting worms.
If you think your dog gave you worms you need to get tested or de-wormed along with your dog. Worms can cause infections and serious side effects including lethargy, stomach issues and more.
I have been advised from Dr.’s that the risk of contracting worms from your dog is low, it seems unusual in that you can get worms from a dog licking you, sharing a bed, or other contact even where your dog rolls in worms (or feces or water infected with worms). Accordingly, it seems that the risk would not be as low as indicated.