Can people get worms from dogs- tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and heartworms

Before getting a pet, a lot of things have to be put into consideration. Most people want to know everything including things that could go wrong by owning one especially if they have never had one. This makes the question “can people get worms from dogs” quite common among potential pet parents. In this post we will be exploring the type of worms that humans can get from dogs, how they can get them and how to protect yourself from them.

Can People Get Worms from Dogs

Can people get worms from dogs? Although catching worms from your pooch is not that common, it is possible for it to happen. Having a dog or even cat that has worms subjects those it is living with to the risk of contracting them.

Can humans catch worms from dogs?
A pet owner interacting with a dog

In most cases, children have an immature immune system. They also are yet to learn how to practice proper hygiene. This makes them more vulnerable. With this being the case, are there specific worms that people can get from pets or does this involve all worms? We explore this below.

What Kind of Worms can Humans get From Dogs ?

It is not every worm that the dog is vulnerable to that can be transferred to humans. In some cases, humans are not natural hosts of some of them. This makes it impossible for the worms to be passed on. Below we get into the details of some of the types of worms that humans can get from dogs.

Can Humans get Ring Worms from Dogs?

Although referred to as worms, these are a fungus known as dermatophytes meaning they are plants that are living on the skin of humans. With these, individuals will have circular lesions on their skin.

Ring worms are highly contagious and will spread easily from cats and dogs to humans as well as from humans to the pets. It is therefore important to take the necessary measures to eradicate them to ensure the safety of the pet and people around it.

Can Humans Get Roundworms from Dogs?

These are parasites found in the digestive system and are most common in dogs and cats. The only way that these can be spread from dogs to humans is through ingestion of the worm’s eggs. How would this happen?

If a kid is playing around an area where the soil is contaminated with the eggs, they can transfer them to the mouth through contaminated fingers. The same may happen through toys and other contaminated objects. Dog round worms can cause Visceral larva migrans which is also known as Toxocariasis. This is a disease affecting the eyes and other organs and which can affect humans as well.

Since the eggs are only infective if they have been exposed in the environment for at least two weeks, direct contact cannot lead to transmission. As such a dog sleeping in your bed will not cause worms. These dog roundworms though can survive in soil for up to seven years and still remain infective.

Roundworms from dogs to kids
A chart flow showing how humans catch roundworms from dogs

Children between two and four years are most affected by the worm especially after they play in dog sandboxes and in other areas that have been contaminated with dog feces. To prevent this, keep children away from areas you suspect may be contaminated with feces. Also teach your children to wash their hands before eating.

Contracting Hookworms from Dogs

Hookworms are most common in tropical and subtropical areas. Just like roundworms, these are also transferrable from dogs to humans through soil that has been contaminated by dog feces. Once the eggs have been laid, they hatch into larvae which is what infects a human. There are two ways through which this can happen- either through ingestion or penetration into the skin of a human.

When it occurs through penetration, people will develop an itchy rash that is referred to as cutaneous larva migrans. In common terms, this is known as creeping eruption. The rash could be in the form of a tract resembling a snake with blisters around the area where the larva is travelling along beneath the skin.

If hook worm is contracted through penetration, it does not find its way to the digestive system. Both adults and children are equally susceptible as the larva can adhere to the soles of the feet when walking bare feet or on your buttocks while sitting.

How do Humans get Worms from Dogs

Although it is not often that adults catch worms from dogs, children do. This can be attributed to the vulnerability of the immune system of toddlers and the fact that babies are always biting at things especially when left for long periods without being watched.

How can contacting of worms from pets to humans happen? People will mostly get worms by ingesting the eggs of the said worms. This occurs when there is an interaction with things that have been in contact with the pets’ fecal matter as this is the main way through which the worms are excreted. In most cases the medium happens to be the soil.

For worms that can be contracted through penetration, people will catch them by walking bare feet, sitting around infested areas, lying down around the place as well as handling soil that is infested. Ring worms are especially contagious and it is possible to catch them by the dog sleeping in your bed.

Can Humans get Tapeworms from Dogs

Can humans get tapeworms from dogs? A lot of people wonder this. Although possible, it is not common for humans to contract tapeworms from dogs. To understand why, let’s look at the life cycle of a tapeworm.

Basically, tapeworms are intestinal parasites found in the small intestines of pets. They are flat and segmented and can grow up to 20 centimeters. They have a hook like mouth which they use to attach themselves on the intestine’s walls.

Tapeworms in dogs
The life cycle of tapeworms

The tapeworm cycle begins when a flea larvae ingests fecal matter containing tapeworm eggs. With this, the eggs hatch in the flea and develop into cysticercoids. The same flea will then attach itself on the skin of the dog and cause itching. To relief this, the dog resorts to biting and chewing and in the process swallow fleas containing cysticercoids.

After ingestion the flea gets broken down after which the cysticercoids develop into adulthood. The tapeworm then attaches itself on the intestine’s lining and thrive off nutrients there in. As the tapeworm matures, the last bits of its segment are dropped off. Each of these contains eggs and is mobile and the eggs are then passed off in feces. It is from here that they get ingested by fleas.

With this in mind, it becomes hard for humans to catch tape worms from dogs since the eggs only develop into maturity inside fleas.

Can Humans get Tapeworms from Dog Fleas?

Now that we know the possibilities of people contracting tapeworms from dogs are slim, can people get the worms from dog fleas? It is possible for humans to catch them from dog fleas but only if a flea that has ingested the eggs is ingested. While no human being will intentionally swallow a flea, you may have one get into your mouth as you are enjoying a hearty laughter close to your puppy or while in an infested area.


Can Cats Get Worms from Dogs?

Dogs are known to ingest many things some of which are inappropriate. This makes it easy for them to catch worms from cats. While this normal, is the reverse true? Cats can get roundworms and through interaction with objects contaminated with their eggs. They can also catch ring worms by interacting with affected dogs. Even easier for cats to catch from dogs are tapeworms. This is because cats easily ingest fleas during grooming.

Cats can however not catch heart worms directly from dogs. They can however catch the worms from dogs through a mosquito. This happens when the cat is bitten by a mosquito that is carrying some infective heartworm larvae. There is therefore no need to separate dogs infected by heart worms from other pets.

How to Prevent Transmission of Worms from Dogs to Humans

While it is possible for people to get some dog worms, there are those that are only specific to dogs. Human beings cannot catch heartworms from dogs as they are not a natural host for them. In the same way, people cannot contract thread worms also referred to as pin worms from dogs. With these, transmission is mostly from child to child. It is also worth noting that most worms will not be passed on to you when your dog is licking you or through saliva when it kisses you.

Since we know people can get worms from dogs, how can their being passed on be prevented? The best way to do this is by deworming your pets. Also watch kids well and ensure they wash their hands regularly and especially before eating. Watch your puppy for the symptoms of infestation including loss of weight, constant hunger and visible worms in the feces of puppies and dogs. Act accordingly to protect your family once they are noticed.

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