Most dogs eat worms out of curiosity. Dogs explore the world by sniffing and chewing. If they see a worm wiggling in the dirt, they may put it in their mouths out of curiosity. If they like the taste, they may continue to eat worms in the future.
Does your dog have a fascination with brown, wiggly, slimy creatures? If you’re wondering why your dog loves to eat worms every time they find one in the backyard or why they dig in search of them, we’ve got you covered.
Here are a few reasons your dog might eat worms and a few health considerations about this weird little habit.
Why Do Dogs Eat Worms? Three Common Reasons
First, let’s clarify that this odd little habit is not uncommon among dogs. It is very common for dogs to eat worms, and thankfully it is not because of any sort of illness or disease (in most cases).
Here are three common reasons dogs eat worms, in order of most likely to least likely.
1) They are Curious
Curiosity is the main reason most dogs eat worms. Dogs are constantly exploring their surroundings and use their nose and mouth to help them explore the world around them.
When they come across something like a worm, which is soft, brown, and wiggly, it makes sense why they would want to mess with it by playing with it or putting it in their mouth. Unfortunately, this exploration can even go so far as to eat the worm.
2) They Like The Taste
For us, worms hold no appeal, but to your dog, they might be a savory treat. Don’t think too much about it; it is gross, but dogs are funny like that (some eat their own poop!).
Eating a worm might be a nice change since a dog’s diet consists of mostly dry kibble.
Pica is a health condition where dogs crave and eat non-food items (i.e., rocks, garbage, dirt, plastic, etc.).
Not every dog that eats worms has Pica, but if you see your dog continuously eating non-food items, they could have Pica.
Dangers of Eating Worms
Whenever your dog puts something different in its mouth, you should be cautious since the item could be harmful or even deadly.
A dog may eat worms for fun, but there are some dangers to consider. The two major risks for eating worms include consuming dangerous chemicals and acquiring roundworms.
Having lovely green lawns (where worms live) takes some maintenance. Part of the maintenance includes using pesticides and fertilizers that contain harmful chemicals.
Even though these products help make lawns pretty, green, and free of pests, they do so by using chemicals that are not meant to be ingested.
While your dog is not explicitly eating the chemicals, they are eating worms that live in the soil. As a result, it is possible that the chemicals in the pesticide and fertilizer can make their way into your dog’s system.
This does not need to be a major concern unless your dog consumes massive quantities of worms, but watch out for any worrisome symptoms.
Some effects of ingesting pesticides and fertilizers include distress, vomiting, skin irritation, excessive thirst.
If you are worried about your dog, don’t be afraid to take him to the veterinarian. Better safe than sorry.
Roundworms, a type of parasite, are another danger from eating worms. We mentioned earlier that worms help break down soil, and they do so by eating the surrounding soil.
Something else that can be in the soil, besides pesticides and fertilizer, is bacteria and parasites like roundworms and their eggs.
It could also be possible that even touching an area that has been in direct contact with the parasite can lead to the spread, so be cautious and attentive to your dog’s behavior if they are digging around in your backyard or the grass.
If you have not seen your dog eat worms or dig in the dirt, you may still want to keep an eye out for any symptoms related to roundworms as it can be harmful to their health and even spread to humans (you).
The skin and fur of your dog will show symptoms of roundworms. There can be visible signs of hair loss, including circular bald patches, dry or brittle hair, inflamed skin, and brittle claws.
Similar to the effects of chemical exposure, if your dog is presenting these symptoms, contact your veterinarian.
It is not difficult to treat roundworms since they are pretty common. However, you should get it treated as soon as possible. Veterinarians will usually prescribe a quick de-worming treatment that will quickly take care of the issue.
Should I Allow My Dog to Eat Worms? How Many?
There is no “set number” of how many worms are dangerous for dogs. Ingesting one worm can cause a negative reaction from chemicals. It can also lead to roundworm infection.
As you have read, ingestion of worms can bring about several undesirable symptoms, which means you will have to take your dog to the veterinarian.
The continued habit of eating worms could lead to frequent expensive veterinarian visits and medications.
Taking all this into consideration, although it’s impossible to prevent your dog from eating worms, it’s not a habit you should allow. If you see your dog eating worms, intervene ASAP.
What should I do?
If your dog recently ate worms, you’ll want to keep an eye on your dog’s poop for the next few days. Check for any signs of difference in texture or consistency and signs of tiny white worms, as this is an indicator for parasites.
When in doubt, take your pet to the vet. If you notice changes in their day-to-day bathroom habits or any normal behaviors, it would be wise to get a vet to take a look. Something as little as eating some wiggly brown worms can affect your dog’s health. Remember, a healthy dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog is a happy owner!
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.