Parasites like ticks and fleas are off-putting but the disgust and repulsion we feel when thinking about large wiggly worms creeping through our intestines is on another level.
Everyone would probably be happy to go through their life without ever coming into contact with them.
As dog owners, you will be confronted with worms pretty quickly.
Upon hearing that some of them can be transmitted to you or your family, the horror knows no limits.
Fortunately, getting worms from your dog is not a common cause of worm infestations.
In general, these types of infestations are fairly rare in first-world countries.
However, should you still share a bed with your dog if he is infested with worms and how are they transmitted in the first place?
Can I Get Worms From My Dog Sleeping in My Bed?
Technically you could get worms from your dog sleeping in your bed since many worms infesting dogs are zoonotic but the chances are very low.
Firstly, you can’t get worms from your dog directly.
They are not transmitted like a cold or stomach bug and require a unique route that differs from worm to worm.
Here are the most common ones:
- To be infected with Dipylidium tapeworm, you must ingest an infected flea.
- Hookworm infections usually happen through contact with contaminated soil (walking barefoot or sitting on soil).
- Ingesting soil or dirt that has been contaminated with infected animal feces can lead to roundworm infections.
As you can see most of these infections happen outside rather than in your bedroom.
However, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you know that your dog has worms and is undergoing treatment, it may be best to not sleep with your dog in your bed until your vet gives the green light.
Since the chances are never zero there is no reason for you to take unnecessary risks.
Now you might be asking why there should even be any risk since your dog is not pooping in your bedroom.
While your pup hopefully doesn’t soil your sleeping space, they could carry tiny worm eggs on their coat either through cleaning themselves and licking their bum or after rolling in poop or feces from other animals.
Worm eggs can survive several years in the soil so even if you didn’t see any poop where your dog has just rolled, you are not 100% safe.
I’d recommend washing all the bedsheets and blankets on high heat to remove any worm eggs that might be stuck there.
What Are the Chances of Getting Worms From Your Dog?
The chances of you getting worms from your dog are relatively low and differ depending on which type of worm your dog is infected with.
Generally, intestinal parasites are way more common than you might think.
Globally, due to intestinal parasitic infections, some 3.5 billion people are affected; 450 million are symptomatic, and yearly more than 200,000 deaths are reported.Prevalence of Intestinal Parasite Infections and Their Associated Factors
Most affected are developing countries in tropical and subtropical areas with a lack of sanitation facilities.
Not all of those can be passed from pets to humans so let’s go over the relevant ones.
Toxocariasis is an infectious disease that is caused by parasitic roundworms and affects about 10,000 each year in the US.
About 5% of the US population (according to the CDC) has antibodies against this roundworm which suggests that tens of millions of Americans may have been exposed to the parasite.
Toxocara is not only transmitted by dogs but also by cats, specifically ones that are left outside and allowed to eat other animals.
Puppies usually get infected by their mother before birth and pass the eggs in their feces.
As with most parasites, children are at the greatest risk of contracting Toxocara.
Tapeworm is not transmitted from dogs to humans directly and the chances of you getting it are very low.
As stated above, to be infected with Dipylidium you need to swallow an infected flea.
The best way to prevent that is through flea control.
Similar to roundworms, hookworms can be shed in a pet’s feces so make sure to wash your hands after playing with or touching your pets, especially before handling food.
Avoid touching soil or other objects that could have animal feces on them.
Hookworm infections are primarily acquired by walking barefoot on contaminated soil.
An estimated 576 to 740 million people worldwide are affected by hookworm infections. However, most of these people live in developing nations with poor sanitation.
Your chances of getting infected by hookworms from your dog are comparatively low.
Can I Touch My Puppy If He Has Worms?
You can touch your puppy if he has worms since most internal parasites can only be contracted by ingesting contaminated animal feces and are not passed directly from dogs to humans.
Worms are especially common in puppies and they often get infected before birth or through the mother’s milk.
That’s why it’s so important to have the puppies’ stool tested regularly and to apply preventative treatment if needed.
However even if your puppy has worms, you can still touch and pet him if you follow good hygiene.
The risk is never zero but it is very unlikely for you to get worms from your puppy by simply touching him.
How Long Can a Dog Have Worms Before He Dies?
Dogs only die from worm infections in severe cases which are usually accompanied by symptoms. If you notice any signs of illness, don’t wait and take your dog to the vet immediately for worm treatment.
Worm infestations can go unnoticed in a dog for a long time and may not cause any symptoms.
That’s why it’s recommended to regularly test your dog’s poop for worms and use meds if necessary.
Look out for any signs of sickness that could be related to intestinal parasites such as:
- weight loss
- worms in poop/vomit
- scratching or rubbing bottom on the ground
The symptoms vary greatly depending on which type of worm your dog is infected with so make sure to take your dog to a vet whenever he shows signs.Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.