Can My Dog Give Me Worms?

Can My Dog Give Me Worms?

Even the thought of worms inside your dog is pretty sickening, but with TV shows like Monsters Inside Me creating alarm, I get questions like “Can my dog give me worms?” a lot. If I go into the exam room with a new puppy and announce the results of my fecal exam to a mom and kids, for example, the mom’s eyes often widen as she glances at her children cuddling the puppy.

When I was little, my mother did not like us to let the dog lick our faces and this fear was probably part of why. So when your dog licks your face, should you be afraid?

First of all, there are parasites that are found in dogs that can infect humans (maybe not exactly in the way you think) but it is true. Worms have evolved to live inside their hosts. They want to live and to thrive so that they can produce offspring that can be passed on to the next viable host. The most successful parasites do not kill their hosts, at least not before the host can assist them in propagating their species.

I think that people think they can catch intestinal worms from pets and that these worms will similarly infect their GI tracts, causing mild to no symptoms and then be easily removed with no permanent issues. The common zoonotic parasites infect people in ways different from pets and it is not simple or harmless.

Zoonotic (animal to human transmission) diseases are an important issue in the public health.