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

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Key Takeaways:

  • Maggots aren’t toxic, but they can upset your dog’s stomach if he eats enough.
  • When dogs eat maggots in dead animals, they can get bacterial infections or intestinal parasites.
  • Take your dog to the vet if the maggots come from a dead animal or if your dog acts sick for more than 1-2 days.

You and your pooch are at the dog park. While he’s enjoying an off-leash romp through the field, you see him stop, sniff, and start munching on something. Curious, you head over to investigate…

You find the remains of an animal that’s teeming with maggots. EEW! Should you be concerned?

Fortunately, maggots are not toxic to dogs. They’re actually an excellent source of protein. However, their presence indicates spoiled or decaying material. If your pup munches on maggots, he may pick up harmful bacteria, intestinal parasites, or other pathogens from the materials where he found the larvae. In other words,  it’s not the worms but the source that you need to worry about. 

If your dog eats maggots, figure out where he found them and how many he ate, then report your findings to your veterinarian.

Will eating maggots make my dog sick?

If your dog finds some maggots in a dead animal, decaying food, discarded garbage, or poop(yes, some dogs eat poop), the worms probably won’t make him sick. The fly larvae won’t survive in your dog’s digestive system, so they shouldn’t block the gut. 

Actually, maggots are fairly nutritious in smaller quantities. As a source of protein, they’re readily digestible. If, however, your pooch eats a lot of maggots, he may have an upset stomach with vomiting and diarrhea for a day or two.

Maggots usually won’t make your dog sick, unless he eats a lot at one time. The canine gut can easily digest the worms. The larvae are also a nutritious source of protein.  Lots of maggots at once may cause an upset stomach

What should I do if my dog ate maggots?

If you catch your dog eating maggots, don’t panic. Unless your pup found a maggot smorgasbord, he’ll probably be fine. If he eats enough, he may have an upset stomach for a day or two. Follow these steps:

  • Clean your dog’s face and fur of any maggots and remove any worms from the area
  • Determine the source of the maggots – was your dog eating poop, garbage, rotting flesh
  • Monitor your dog for signs of illness like vomiting or diarrhea – if they persist beyond a day or two, contact your veterinarian
  • Call your vet if you have any concerns or questions

There’s no need to panic if your dog eats maggots. Clean his face, fur, and surroundings of any worms. Then, check to discover the source of the maggots. Monitor your pooch for signs of illness and call your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

When should I take my dog to the vet if he ate maggots?

If you determine the source of the maggots is a dead animal, contact your veterinarian and schedule an examination. Carrion can harbor intestinal parasites and pathogenic bacteria that are harmful to dogs. The canine gut can easily digest maggots, but the organisms they carry are still a threat. 

You should also take your dog to the vet if:

  • You see worms in his poop
  • He has vomiting/diarrhea that lasts more than 1-2 days
  • He has a fever
  • He loses his appetite
  • He is weak or lethargic

Finally, if one of the maggots finds an open cut or sore on your dog, it may infest the wound. Any time you see maggots in your dog’s flesh, call your vet immediately. The worms will secrete a chemical to break down your furbaby’s tissues. Left untreated, they can bore into your dog and cause organ damage.

Schedule an appointment with your vet if he ate maggots from a dead animal. While the maggots are digestible, the pathogens they often carry are dangerous to your dog. Additionally, call the doctor if you see signs of severe digestive illness. The final reason to call your vet is for a maggot infestation.

What if my dog ate plenty of maggots but seems fine?

When your dog eats a pile of maggots, the richness of the protein source can cause stomach upset, but you may not notice the signs immediately. It may take a few hours before you notice nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea may take several hours to develop.

If the maggots came from a source infected with parasites or with bacteria like salmonella or staphylococcus, it can take hours to days before the pathogens take root and produce symptoms of illness. If your dog ate a pile of maggots, call your vet and tell him what and how much your dog ate. Follow his instructions.

Eating a lot of maggots can cause digestive upset because they’re a rich food source. However, it may take a few hours for symptoms to develop. If your dog picks up a bacterial or parasite infection from the worms, it may take several hours to days for the illness to manifest.

Signs of illness in my dog after he eats maggots

The signs of illness you can see in your dog if he eats maggots varies depending on the way they affect him. If the maggots cause digestive upset in your dog, you may notice nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea for 1-2 days. 

When your pooch picks up intestinal parasites, symptoms may include:

  • Swollen abdomen
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting or diarrhea(sometimes with blood or worms)
  • Dull coat
  • Weight loss

Dogs that pick up pathogenic bacteria from rotting meat when they eat maggots may have symptoms of toxicosis, including:

  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Swollen, sore abdomen
  • Flatulence
  • Panting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleepiness
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Seizures

Symptoms of illness after your dog eats maggots vary depending on the effect of the worms. You may see signs compatible with digestive upset, intestinal parasites, or a toxic bacterial infection.

What happens to dogs that eat maggots?

If your dog eats maggots, the effects will depend on the source of the maggots. 

Dead animal

When dogs munch a dead animal with maggots the worms or rotting flesh likely carry harmful bacteria like staphylococcus or salmonella. These organisms can survive your pup’s stomach acids and cause an infection. Dead animals may also harbor intestinal parasites that can enter your pup’s system and cause an infestation. The severity of the symptoms will depend on how much rotting meat your dog ingested.


As disgusting as it is, dogs like to eat feces. Unfortunately, poop can from some wild animals carry intestinal parasites. When the maggots feed on the feces, they pick up the eggs or larvae and pass them to your dog.


Maggots feeding on discarded garbage are usually not a problem for your dog. However, the garbage can carry bacteria that could infect your dog.

Dog Food

If you don’t store your dog’s kibble properly, it can become infested with maggots. In this case, the worms shouldn’t carry anything harmful to your pup, but they will break down the nutritional content of the food. Eating dog food infested with maggots can cause a nutritional deficiency. If your pooch’s kibble has maggots, throw it away and get fresh food.

The effects of eating maggots will depend on the source of the worms. When dogs eat maggots from dead animals, they may get a bacterial or parasite infection. Poop-eating dogs are susceptible to intestinal parasites. On the other hand, maggots in garbage and dog food shouldn’t carry pathogens.

How will my vet treat my dog if he eats maggots?

 If your dog becomes ill after eating maggots, and you take him to the vet, he’ll start by asking what your dog ate and how many maggots he ingested. Next, the doctor will conduct a physical exam and run diagnostic tests based on your dog’s symptoms. Depending on the symptoms and diagnosis, treatment may include:

  • IV fluids to treat/prevent dehydration
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections
  • Anthelmintic drugs to eliminate parasites
  • Antidiarrheal or antiemetic drugs if symptoms are severe

If you take your dog to the vet, the doctor will ask questions about the event and perform a physical examination. Depending on the symptoms and diagnosis, treatment may include supportive care and medications to address the underlying condition.

How long is the recovery?

How long it takes your dog to recover from illness after eating maggots depends on the condition. 

  • Mild digestive upset should resolve in a day or two
  • Infestation with intestinal parasites usually resolves in 2-4 weeks with a series of treatments
  • It usually takes days to weeks for dogs to recover from a bacterial infection. The recovery time varies depending on the organism involved 

The Final Woof

Maggots aren’t toxic to dogs. They’re actually an excellent protein source. However, when dogs eat the worms, they’re usually in something. Maggots in dead animals, garbage, or poop can harbor organisms that are harmful to dogs. 

If your dog eats maggots, observe him and head to the vet if he exhibits signs of illness for more than 1-2 days. The doctor can examine your dog and run tests to diagnose the condition. Treatment varies depending on the findings. Recovery from illness may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the underlying condition.

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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