Are Dog Worms Contagious?

Dog worms generally are spread through contact with another infected dog. This truly depends on the type of parasitic worm, however. Learn more about the different worms and how the parasites infect other animals.

It's rare for parasitic worms to infect a human, but it has happened. Prevention is always the best way to ensure your pet and your family remain healthy.

The Most Common Dog Worms

While many parasitic worms exist, the ones that commonly infect dogs are:

  • Heartworms: Parasitic worms that grow and infest the lungs and sometimes the heart. They are spread through bites from an infected mosquito.

  • Hookworms: Known for razor sharp teeth that attach to the intestines. The sharp teeth create gashes in the intestines that bleed and the parasite ingests the blood. They are spread through ingestion of the eggs from contaminated feces or soil or from a mother dog's milk.

  • Roundworms: One of the most common worms because they pass from mother to puppies during pregnancy. Eggs can also enter a dog's system if he ingests an infected dog's feces or eats contaminated soil. Roundworms feast on undigested food in the intestines.

  • Tapeworms: Long, flat worms that absorb nutrients through their skin. They infect fleas and if a dog ingests a flea, the tapeworm then grows and attaches to the dog's intestines.

  • Whipworms: Parasites with a long neck that is buried into the lining of the dog's intestine for feeding. They are spread through ingestion of eggs from another dog's feces or in contaminated soil.

Prevention of Dog Worms

Every year, your veterinarian will take a stool sample to check for parasitic worms. Follow directions for the medication. Clean up any feces from your yard to keep your dog safe from repeat infections.

If you play in local parks or playgrounds, monitor your children and pets closely to make sure they are not putting anything that has touched the ground into their mouths. This is one of the most common ways parasitic dog worms' eggs make it into a new host.

Transmission of Dog Worms into Humans

Hookworms and Roundworms are the two parasitic worms that are the most likely candidates for transmission from dog to human according to the CDC. It's important to note that the dog to human transmission of parasitic worms has never been reported in the United States. However, almost 40 percent of dogs brought into shelters do have hookworms or roundworms, so there is the chance that transmission could happen.

One concern of the CDC is that working adults who spend their time crawling under homes are at a higher risk for exposure to parasitic worm contaminated soil. Workers include plumbers, electricians and exterminators. Unless they wear thick gloves, they could get contaminated soil into nicks in the skin of their hand.

In other countries where transmission of dog worms has been reported, it's typically a child who played in dirt contaminated with parasitic worm eggs and then failed to wash his hands before eating. If you or your children spend time in a public park or playground, keep shoes on. Don't run around barefoot, especially if you do have cuts or scratches on the bottom of your feet.