Can my dog give me worms?

pet advice

Can my dog give me worms?

words by
catherine harper // Barossa Veterinary clinic

When did you last worm your pet? Yes, I am asking you…

As vets, we tend to get one of three answers:

  • They get it monthly, always on the same day and I record it on my calendar – High Five to you!
  • Occasionally when I remember and I see it in the supermarket.
  • Last time you (the vet) did it, usually at least 12 months ago. 

Worming our pets is a simple, inexpensive treatment to help maintain optimal health, yet 2/3 of pet owners are lax at keeping it up to date.

In general, there are not significant consequences of this laxity for our pets.

A normal healthy cat or dog is unlikely to have any adverse effects from a worm burden; it rarely makes them skinny or gives them an upset tummy.

So, if this is the case, why does your vet consistently discuss and recommend keeping it up to date?

The answer is simple, if not a bit gross and disturbing.

There are multiple species of worms that infect our dog and cat species that are zoonotic, that is they can also infect humans.

The most common examples of zoonotic parasite are roundworms, hookworms and tapeworm.

These parasites infect the environment through your pet and cause infection in humans, most commonly through poor hand hygiene.

Children are most at risk as they are most likely to ingest dirt, run around barefoot or place dirty hands near their face and mouth.

While these worms cannot reproduce in the human body, they can cause severe disease by migrating through organs like our liver, or lodging in the eye and causing blindness.

Some tapeworms can cause hydatid disease, where large cysts can form in organs, causing organ failure and in some rare cases, death.

These diseases are not common, but recent research suggests that 7% of the population has been exposed to roundworm infection and 4% to the potentially deadly hydatid tapeworm. 

Prevention is easy, here are some tips to keeping you and your pet safe:

  • Keep your pet up to date with worm and flea treatment, even indoor cats require treatment; your vet can advise the best choice for your pet.
  • Ensure you wash your hands after playing with your dog, gardening or any other outdoor activity.
  • Wear gloves if possible when gardening and collecting faeces or wash hands thoroughly once complete.
  • Thoroughly clean all produce prior to eating, especially that grown at home.
  • Wear shoes when outdoors.
  • Keep pets away from children’s play areas or clean regularly, especially sandpits, which should be covered
  • to prevent pets from using them as a toilet. 

Should you wish to check your pet’s worming schedule is adequate, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 8562 1162.

We are also pleased to offer the Australian Veterinary Associatoin PetPEP programme, an education initiative that teaches children about responsible pet ownership and safety around animals.

Two staff members can go and visit schools or kindys and take them through a series of fun talks and games, highlighting what vets do and helping them to understand the key areas to care for their pets.

The kids love this involvement and it is great fun for our staff too!

Catherine Harper


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