My Dog Ate a Worm and Seems Fine – What Should I Do?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Worms sometimes carry pathogens and intestinal parasites that can make your dogs sick.
  • If your dog eats worms, you should contact your veterinarian and let him know what happened.
  • If your dog shows signs of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss after he eats worms, schedule an exam with the veterinarian.

It’s the morning after a rainfall, and you let your dog into the backyard. Soon, he’s sniffing a large earthworm on the lawn, and the next thing you know, he eats it. Should you be concerned?

While earthworms aren’t toxic themselves, they can still be dangerous to dogs when eaten. Because worms travel through and feed on the soil, they often pick up bacteria and parasites that can infect your dog and make him very sick.

If your dog eats earthworms, you should let your veterinarian know and observe your pooch for signs of illness.

How Many Worms Does it Take to Make My Dog Sick?

Usually, your dog won’t get sick if he eats one earthworm. His stomach acids can neutralize or kill potential threats. But if your pooch makes a regular practice of eating worms or feasting on a bunch of worms after a rainfall, he can be at risk. 

Worms squiggle through the earth and feast on decayed plant materials in the soil. As they do this, their system picks up dangerous bacteria and parasite eggs or larvae. When your pooch ingests a pile of earthworms, some of the larvae or bacteria may enter his system before the stomach acid can kill them. 

If you see your dog eat one or more earthworms, it’s wise to contact your veterinarian. They may recommend you monitor your pup or give them preventative anti-parasitic medicine.

It’s usually not a problem if your dog eats a single worm because stomach acid can kill parasites and pathogens. However, if your pooch ingests earthworms regularly or eats several at the same time, parasite eggs and larvae or bacteria may infect him and make him sick.

What Should I Do if My Dog Ate Worms?

If you catch your dog eating one or more worms

  • Block his access to more nematodes. Bring him inside or leash walk him after rainstorms if needed. 
  • Observe your pooch for the next several hours. If you don’t see signs of illness like vomiting, diarrhea, or depression, there’s no need to panic. However, if your pooch becomes ill, take him to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • Contact your veterinarian. The doctor may advise you to continue watching your dog for signs of illness over the next few weeks. Additionally, he may prescribe dewormer as a preventive measure.

If you catch your dog eating earthworms, take him away from the area to prevent access. Spend the next several hours observing your dog for signs of illness. If he gets ill, take him to the clinic for treatment. Otherwise, notify your veterinarian and follow his instructions.

When Should I Take My Dog To The Vet After He Eats Worms?

If your dog isn’t showing signs of illness after eating some worms, you don’t need to rush to the vet. You can observe your pooch for concerning signs. Head to the vet if you see concerning symptoms including:

  • Vomiting(vomit may contain worms)
  • Diarrhea(stool may contain worms)
  • Weight loss
  • Potbelly
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

While some symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea may surface in the first few hours, others may take days or weeks to emerge. Even if you don’t immediately notice any concerning symptoms, call your vet and let him know what happened.

You probably don’t have to rush to the vet if your dog eats a few earthworms unless you notice concerning symptoms. The signs of illness you should watch for are mostly related to the digestive system. You may notice evidence of illness in a few hours or in a few weeks.

Signs That My Dog Became Ill After Eating Earthworms

There are several signs to watch for that indicate your dog has a bacterial infection or intestinal parasites. 


Earthworms pick up bacteria in the soil that may make your dog sick. If your pup ingests worms with microorganisms, they will probably experience digestive upset including vomiting and diarrhea. Usually, the symptoms last a few hours to a few days. If you seek veterinary care and treatment, the signs will gradually fade.


When dogs eat worms, they are at risk of parasitic infections. While worms can carry pinworms, hookworms, or roundworms, the most common threat is from roundworms. Dogs that develop roundworm infestations can have the following signs.

  • Potbelly
  • Coughing
  • Weight loss
  • Poor body condition
  • Dull coat
  • Vomiting or diarrhea(may include worms)

When dogs eat earthworms, they can pick up bacteria or intestinal parasites. The bacteria found in soil can cause digestive upset for a few hours or days. Roundworms are the most likely type of parasite dogs can get from ingesting earthworms. Signs include signs of poor nutrition, digestive upset, and others.

What Happens When Dogs Eat Worms?

When your dog eats a worm or two, his stomach acid can destroy bacteria and parasites. But if he ingests several, some of the bacteria or larvae from the parasites may trigger illness. In the case of bacteria, the organisms can cause nausea and mild digestive upset. With treatment, the symptoms usually resolve in a few days.

If worms harbor nematode larvae, some of the parasites may escape your pup’s stomach acid and reach the intestines. In the gut, the worms reach maturity and attach to the intestines to feed off the nutrients in your dog’s digestive tract. 

When dogs eat worms, they can develop nausea from bacteria in the crawler. With treatment, the symptoms usually resolve fairly quickly. In the case of intestinal parasites, some of the larvae in the earthworm may survive your dog’s stomach acid and mature in the intestines causing an infestation.

Why Are Earthworms Dangerous to Dogs?

Earthworms can pick up bacteria and develop digestive upset. Dogs with infections from the bacteria usually recover in a few days or weeks, but the fluid loss can cause dehydration or electrolyte imbalances that make your dog sick.

A higher risk for your pooch is roundworms. The larvae can infest your pooch and feed off the nutrients in his digestive system. As a result, your dog can suffer weight loss and malnutrition. If the worms migrate to other organs, your pup may also experience kidney or liver damage.

If dogs eat earthworms that harbor bacteria, they can develop digestive upset with vomiting and diarrhea. When the worms carry parasite larvae, the organisms can reach your dog’s intestines and reach maturity. Intestinal parasites can cause malnutrition and may affect other organs in the body. 

How Will My Vet Treat My Dog After He Eats Worms?

The treatment your dog receives will depend on the type of infection he develops after eating worms but may include: 

  • Antibiotics
  • IV fluids
  • Antidiarrheal medications
  • Bland diet 
  • Anthelmintic drugs

The treatment varies and will depend on how the worm makes your dog sick. Depending on your vet’s diagnosis, he may give your dog supportive care and medication to treat the underlying cause.

How long is the recovery?

The recovery period depends on the type of infection. Mild bacterial infections should resolve in a few days. When dogs develop intestinal parasite infestations, a course of antiparasitic drugs eradicates the worms. Usually, dogs receive three doses about 2 weeks apart to kill the parasites and their immature stages. Massive infestations may take longer to resolve. 

Recovery can vary depending on the type of infection your dog develops. With treatment, bacterial infections usually last a few days. Intestinal parasites often require a month of treatment to resolve. 

The Final Woof

Earthworms aren’t toxic to dogs, but they can make your pooch sick. The crawlers eat earth and often harbor bacteria or intestinal parasites. Your pup’s stomach acid can usually handle the bacterial and parasitic load in one or two worms. However, if Fido ingests several earthworms, some bacteria or parasitic larvae can survive the digestive juices and infect your pup.

The biggest risk to your dog when he eats worms is infection with roundworms. Intestinal parasites feed off your pup’s nutrients and can cause malnutrition and weight loss. The treatment for dogs that get sick after eating worms varies depending on the type of infection he has. Recovery is also variable and can range from a few days to more than a month.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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