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What human food causes worms in dogs?

Dogs can get intestinal worms from eating various foods that humans eat. Worms like roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms can be transmitted to dogs when they eat raw meat, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables from the ground, or infected feces. These worms live in a dog’s intestines and can cause major health problems if left untreated. Knowing what foods carry these worms can help dog owners prevent intestinal worm infections in their pets.

Raw Meat

Eating raw meat is one of the most common ways dogs can get worms. Raw meat may contain worms or worm eggs that can lead to an intestinal worm infection.


Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites found in dogs. The roundworm species Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina can be transmitted to dogs who eat raw meat. These roundworm eggs can be found in all types of raw meat, including beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and game.

Dogs can also get roundworms if they eat infected rodents who have larval stages of Toxocara or Toxascaris in their tissues. Eating raw meat increases a dog’s risk of ingesting these parasitic roundworm larvae and developing an infection.


Raw meat may also contain tapeworm larvae. Dogs get tapeworms when they eat raw meat contaminated with tapeworm cysts. The common species of tapeworms transmitted this way include Dipylidium caninum and Taenia.

Cysts from Taenia tapeworm species are commonly found in raw beef and pork. Dipylidium larvae can be found in the tissues of rabbits, rodents, and some birds. When dogs eat raw meat or tissues from these animals, they can accidentally ingest tapeworm cysts and become infected.

Raw Fish

Feeding raw fish to dogs also comes with the risk of parasitic worms. The anisakid nematodes Contracaecum and Pseudoterranova are fish parasites that can sometimes be found in raw salmon, cod, herring, flounder, and other fish. Dogs that eat infected raw fish can contract these parasitic worm larvae, causing symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.

Additionally, raw fish may contain the zoonotic tapeworm Diphyllobothrium latum. This fish tapeworm can be passed to dogs who eat infected raw fish. It causes few symptoms in canines but can also be transmitted to humans.


While cooked eggs are perfectly safe for dogs, there is a small risk of getting Salmonella infection from raw eggs. Feeding dogs raw or undercooked eggs also exposes them to potential worm risks.


The roundworm species Ascaridia galli is a common parasite found in chickens. Dogs can pick up A. galli infection by eating raw eggs contaminated with roundworm eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae in a dog’s intestines, which embed into the intestinal lining and mature into adult worms.


Raw eggs may also contain tapeworm eggs if the chicken was infected. The tapeworm species Davainea proglottina can be found in raw eggs and infects dogs who eat them. The eggs develop into larvae and then into mature tapeworms that live in a dog’s intestines.

Fruits and Vegetables from the Ground

Many fruits and vegetables grow close to the ground and may be contaminated with different worm parasites and eggs. Dogs who eat raw fruits and veggies directly off the ground are at risk of picking up worm infections this way.


Dogs can get roundworm from eating fallen fruit like apples, berries, citrus, melons, and more. These fruits can harbor roundworm eggs from wildlife feces contaminated with Toxocara or Baylisascaris parasites. Eating vegetables straight from the garden can also expose dogs to roundworm eggs in the soil.


Hookworm eggs and larvae are also common in garden soil. Dogs who eat raw vegetables from the ground may accidentally ingest hookworm eggs or larvae on the plants. This can lead to hookworm infection, often with the species Ancylostoma caninum which is spread through contaminated soil.


The whipworm species Trichuris vulpis is another parasite dogs can pick up from fruits and vegetables grown in contaminated soil. Whipworm eggs can survive in the soil for years. Eating fallen fruits with soil or unwashed vegetables may expose dogs to whipworm and cause infection.

Infected Feces

Dogs who eat the feces of infected animals are also at high risk of getting worms. Ingesting infected dog, cat, or wildlife feces can transmit worms like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. This is why it’s important to remove dog waste from the yard and prevent dogs from eating cat poop from the litter box to lower their worm risk.

Some warning signs a dog has eaten infected feces include diarrhea, gas, vomiting, distended belly, or visible worm segments or eggs in their stool. If a dog shows these symptoms after possible feces eating, have them checked for intestinal worms.

Preventing Worms from Human Food

To keep dogs free of worms from human foods:

  • Avoid feeding raw meat or fish. Cook all meat and fish before feeding.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before giving them to dogs.
  • Do not feed dogs raw eggs.
  • Pick up fallen fruits and veggies from the ground to prevent scavenging.
  • Clean up dog waste promptly from the yard.
  • Prevent access to cat feces from litter boxes.
  • Deworm dogs routinely with vet-prescribed medications.
  • Wash hands and clean up kitchen surfaces after handling raw meat to avoid indirect transmission.

Following these guidelines helps limit a dog’s exposure to potentially worm-laden people foods. Be aware of public health advisories on food recalls related to salmonella, listeria, E.coli and other bacterial contamination that could impact canine health as well.

Common Dog Worm Infection Symptoms

If a dog does get worms, either from human food sources or other exposure, some common symptoms to look for include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Gas
  • Distended belly
  • Coughing
  • Visible worms in vomit or stool
  • Worm segments around the anus
  • Scooting rear along the ground
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dull coat

Puppies with heavy roundworm infections may also show a pot-bellied appearance and poor growth. Hookworms can cause anemia from intestinal blood loss.

If worm infection is suspected, collect a fresh stool sample and take the dog to the vet. The stool can be tested for worm eggs to pinpoint the type of infestation.

Health Risks of Worm Infections in Dogs

Intestinal worms can have numerous harmful effects on a dog’s health:

  • Nutritional deficiencies – Worms rob the dog of nutrients from their food leading to deficiencies.
  • Intestinal blockages – Large numbers of worms can clog up the intestines.
  • Gastrointestinal issues – Worms irritate the digestive tract causing vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and abdominal pain.
  • Anemia – Hookworms attach to the intestinal wall and suck blood, resulting in anemia.
  • Stunted growth – Roundworms steal nutrition slowing puppy growth and development.
  • Bacterial infection – Wounds in the intestines from worms allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
  • Colic – Some worm species migrate to other organs like the lungs and liver causing inflammation and pain.
  • Death – Untreated worm infections, especially in puppies, can be fatal.

Chronic worm infections that go untreated can lead to serious malnutrition, wasting, and even death in dogs. Puppies under 6 months old are especially susceptible to life-threatening effects of worms.

Common Dog Worms that Can Be Transmitted from Human Food

Worm Type Source Symptoms
Roundworms (Toxocara, Toxascaris, Ascaridia) Raw meat, rodents, raw eggs Diarrhea, vomiting, distended belly
Hookworms (Ancylostoma) Soil from gardens Anemia, diarrhea
Whipworms (Trichuris) Contaminated soil Diarrhea, weight loss
Tapeworms (Taenia, Dipylidium, Davainea) Raw meat, fish, eggs Scooting, weight loss, worm segments around anus

This table summarizes some of the most common worm species dogs can get from contaminated human food or environmental sources and their associated symptoms.

Diagnosing Intestinal Worms in Dogs

Veterinarians use several methods to check dogs for intestinal parasites:

Fecal examination

Looking at a stool sample under the microscope allows identification of worm eggs, larvae, or worm segments. This is the most common diagnostic test for worms.

Fecal flotation

For this test, a fecal solution is made and spun in a centrifuge. Worm eggs will rise to the top for easier identification.

Fecal sedimentation

Worm eggs and larvae tend to settle out in a fecal solution. The sediment is examined under a microscope for parasites.

PCR testing

Advanced PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests can identify DNA from specific worm species in dog feces. This is a very accurate diagnostic method.

Blood tests

Examining a blood sample allows detection of anemia caused by blood-sucking hookworms. Blood tests also help assess the full impact of a worm infection.


X-rays or ultrasound can sometimes visualize intestinal worms, detect an intestinal blockage, or identify impacted organs.

Accurate diagnosis through laboratory fecal testing is key to determining which worms are infecting a dog. This allows proper prescription of deworming medications that will target the specific parasite.

Treating and Preventing Worms from Human Food

There are several aspects to treating and preventing intestinal worm infections in dogs:

Deworming Medications

Veterinarians prescribe oral deworming medications based on the type of infestation. Common dewormers for dogs include:

  • Fenbendazole (Panacur)
  • Milbemycin oxime
  • Piperazine
  • Praziquantel (Droncit)
  • Pyrantel pamoate

These anthelminthic drugs weaken and kill intestinal worms so they are expelled from the dog’s body. Most dewormers kill specific types of worms, so proper identification is important.

Environmental Cleaning

Use disinfectants when cleaning the house and yard to kill worm eggs. Steam cleaning carpets and throwing out old dog bedding limits reinfection indoors. Pick up dog poop promptly from the yard.

Routine Deworming

Dogs at high risk for worms should be dewormed periodically under veterinary guidance. Puppies need deworming every 2-4 weeks until 6 months old. Adult dogs usually need deworming 1-4 times per year depending on exposure risk.

Preventative Medications

Giving heartworm and flea/tick preventatives labeled to also treat or prevent intestinal parasites can help provide ongoing protection against worms.

Using deworming drugs, cleaning to remove eggs, and prevention through medications and diet changes can protect dogs against worms from human food sources. Get veterinary advice to implement an effective parasite control program.


Many common human foods can transmit intestinal worms to dogs if they are eaten raw or contaminated. Roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms pose the biggest risks to dogs from food sources like raw meat, fish, eggs, and fruits/vegetables straight from the ground or garden. These worms can lead to severe gastrointestinal issues, malnutrition, anemia, and even death in dogs if left untreated.

To prevent food-borne worm infections, dogs should not be fed raw meat, fish, eggs, or unwashed fruits and vegetables. Meats should always be cooked thoroughly before feeding, eggs should be cooked, and produce should be washed. Keeping your home and yard clean helps limit exposure to worm eggs and infected feces as well.

While worms from food are common in dogs, they are very preventable with proper handling of human food fed to pets. Follow veterinarian recommended deworming schedules as well. With vigilance and routine care, dogs can stay parasite-free and avoid the many health risks these intestinal worms pose. Be aware of any human food recalls or contamination advisories, and take steps to minimize your dog’s exposure to potentially hazardous raw or undercooked foods.