Beware your dog's tongue. By: brucethomson
Beware your dog’s tongue — it might carry worm eggs (seriously). By: brucethomson

Many people ask their veterinarian, “Can humans get worms from dogs?” The answer is yes — we can certainly get intestinal parasites from our dogs or cats.

In this article, we’ll look at 3 common parasites: roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms.

1. Roundworms

Roundworm eggs are shed constantly by the infected dog (or, most commonly, puppy). If he licks his butt and then licks you, the contamination begins.


When you touch your mouth, you allow the eggs (unseen by your eyes) to enter your body. You or your children can also pick them up from infected dog poop in the backyard. Once they get in, they make their way into your intestines and grow — big time.

Occasionally, the worms will form a ball within the body and cause an intestinal blockage. This is when roundworms (Toxocara canis) stop being a minor issue and become a major problem. Usually, the person will notice the long, spaghetti-like parasites in their stools.

They’re pretty nasty, gross and definitely scary.

  • Your doctor will prescribe roundworm medicine that will clear up the problem.
  • If the worms ball up and create a blockage, surgery is often required to “unblock and remove” the worms. Oral treatment will need to follow that operation.

Here’s a veterinarian who will explain the basics of how dogs can transmit worms to people:

2. Hookworms

These worms enter the human host usually through the skin. More often than not, the infestation occurs from the person walking through contaminated soil with bare feet.

A rash with incredible itching will be noticed at the site of entry. The person can experience diarrhea, weight loss and anemia.

Hookworms are not to be taken lightly. People have died from untreated hookworm infections. If you suspect an internal parasite infection, seek medical help regardless of how embarrassed you feel.

3. Tapeworms

It’s rare, but transmission of the Dipylidium caninum tapeworm can occur if you were to swallow an infected flea (which is exactly how pets get tapeworms).

Proper sanitation will help decrease your risk of getting parasites from dogs.

  • Do not walk barefoot where your dog poops.
  • Wash your hands after petting a pet that has been diagnosed with parasites.
  • Never let a puppy with worms sleep with you. The eggs can get into the bedding and invade your body.

Can humans get worms from dogs? Yes. They can get worms from cats, too.

Can it be cured? Yes. Treatment is usually simple.

Can a worm infection from a dog be fatal? Possibly. If you suspect that you have parasites, seek medical advice.

Additional Resources

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Leave a Comment

  • Seb

    You are absolutely correct. It happened to a friend of mine years ago. Another reason why people shouldn’t let their dogs like their faces. Someone I know kisses her dog on the mouth several times a day.

  • Scarlet

    I have heard that if you give your dog heart worm medicine, it takes care of other worms too and prevents this. Don’t know if that is true though. I would check with a vet!

    • Asia

      It’s not true, I have a dog with demodectic mange and have to give her a dose of Ivermectin everyday. Ivermectin is the main ingrediant in heart worm medications it says directly on the medications that it does not kill any other types of worms.

      • W. Lewis

        It depends on the dosage of ivermectin. It does kill some types of worms for sure, just might not for the dose you are using for the mange or heartworms.

        Always ask your vet the safe amount to use, as it is easy to overdose. Or contact the company, and they will tell you the exact details.

  • Dom

    It’s really disgusting. Absolutely, walking with bare feet on the ground may catch up different kinds of bacteria and things like that. Also, a person can get a serious disease from an animal if it is infected. Well, it’s different for me if a person kisses an animal in the lips.

  • Jason

    Our dogs and pups are treated with human grade Pyrantel designed for pinworms. I took it once with no problems.

  • Stefanie

    I was always told as long as your dog has its shots they will not have worms or give you worms. I know all my dogs were dewormed while they were puppies.

    • Pets Adviser

      Stefanie, unfortunately not every pet owner gets his puppies dewormed. And you’re right… that’s when potential problems slither up.

    • Eric

      Deworming is not like a vaccination. If the animal ingests eggs, it will get worms. Being worm-free doesn’t ensure it will remain so. All your pet has to do is put something in its mouth (which they do constantly) with the eggs or larvae and there you go.

  • Louise Hudson

    Your dog should be de-wormed every six to eight months! It is not a case of worming your puppy once and never doing it again. At least twice a year it should be done with the best medication from your vet. DO NOT allow your dog/puppy to lick your or your children’s face.

    We have one dog and one cat, and both a de-wormed regularly.

    If you do notice worms in your dogs’ stools then buy them worming tablets immediately and repeat the process in six weeks’ time!

  • Melissa

    Thankfully, the worst thing I’ve gotten from any of my fur babies is ringworm. Good advice, though! I can certainly see how easy it would be to get infected.

    • Pets Adviser

      Hi Melissa,

      Well, ringworm is bad enough! And yes, you can get ringworm from dogs and cats. We’re going to add a new section to this article covering ringworm.

  • Ivan

    I just got a husky puppy that has been vomiting lately. Once, I saw what seemed to be a roundworm moving in the puppy’s vomit. No more worms have been vomited, and the puppy does not have diarrhea. The puppy continues vomiting but otherwise does not seem too sick. I am getting a deworming tablet today and planning to take it to the vet in 3 days.

    Before I knew the puppy had worms, it slept in my bed with me. How do I make sure I didn’t catch the worms?

    • Pets Adviser

      Ivan, you should have your puppy seen by a veterinarian. You say he does not seem sick, but constant vomiting = sick in our opinion. Better safe than sorry.

      You probably didn’t catch worms by sleeping with the puppy. But, for purposes of information, some common symptoms of roundworms or hookworms in humans include: constipation or diarrhea, blood in the stool, gas/bloating, abdominal pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, skin rashes/allergies, shortness of breath, fatigue.

      Best of luck.

  • Leslie

    We recently got a puppy. Obviously she was carrying worms when we got her. It has been two weeks now, and she threw up an adult roundworm, had a pot belly, and then has been releasing roundworms through her bowels. We picked up a dewormer from the vet (Durvet 30mg). Now her bowel movements have small little white pieces in them. Can I assume that is the worm(s) that died and are now broken up?

    My main question follows. Of course this being a puppy, in all the excitement we have let her lick our face. I have kissed her face and nose, and even my son accidentally stepped in her feces. Now I am paranoid out the wazoo that we are carrying roundworm. How easy it is to pass around, and do I really need to go straight to the doctor and spend over $500 for all of us to be tested? I am worried out of my mind.

    • Pets Adviser

      Hi Leslie,

      Not many things are ickier than imagining that there are worms inside our bodies, eating away at our innards. However, don’t be too freaked out here. It’s possible (well, puppies do lick their butts), but not very likely that you have roundworms from being licked by your infected puppy.

      Also, it’s our understanding that your son would not only have to have stepped in the poo, but touched it with his hands and then put his hands in his mouth. And the poo would have needed to be at least a couple weeks old, not fresh.

      Keep those hands washed. Clean up after your dog. And keep your dog treated regularly with a preventive.

      If you did have roundworms, by the way, you would *probably* develop fever, flu-like symptoms, stomach pain and possibly a cough.

      $500 for testing? If you’re really worried that you’re infected, have you looked into a low-cost health clinic? That said, peace of mind may be priceless.

    • W. LEWIS

      Hi, Leslie,

      I have a dog kennel, so lots of dogs come and go. Fostering, adoption, etc. Anyway, if money is an issue, go to KV Vet Supply online, and order a bottle of Pyrantel for about $16 and follow the instructions on the back of the bottle. It is actually for people and will kill roundworms and hookworms. The bottle says pinworms, but the vet told me about this wormer. It is stronger than the type in pet stores, so you take much less. Why pay for a test if you can worm your whole family for $16? Basically, I think an adult takes 3 spoonfuls and it actually tastes good, like banana! The bottle will last for many treatments.

      As far as for the dog, a different dose is required: 1ml per 20 lbs. of dog. You know for a fact what worm you are dealing with, and here is an easy “solution,” no pun intended, to your problem.

      In the catalog, there are many diluted versions of wormers all containing Pyrantal, so this is why I’m telling you to get this exact bottle for humans that kills pinworms. I think the bottle is 16 ounces. You can also call the pharmacy and get the same product, or at least info to confirm my statements. Forget about testing what you know could be possible.

      Remember, worm your dog more than once to kill what are now eggs that will turn into adult worms in 2-3 weeks. Just worm the dog every 2-3 weeks about 4 times and you should be fine, and re-do every 6 months. People are different, so don’t worm yourself again in 2-3 weeks unless a doctor tells you to. It explains this on the bottle. It will not hurt you or your dog, if any one doesn’t have worms, but you will have peace of mind!

      • Luvpuppeas

        OMG, I am relieved to hear that. I have been sick anyway for about two weeks (I have interstitial cystitis, which is incurable and when it worsens it causes “crisis,” which can be very debilitating).

        Anyway, while sick at home I cleaned up dog poop that was infested with actual worms; also I have had some embarrassing itching/discomfort and excessive saliva and indigestion. I haven’t been eating much, but there is one more thing: my regular meds keep me constipated and on stool softeners, but over the last two weeks they have not been working at all. I’ve been in terrible pain, but it is in the abdominal and pelvic area anyway with interstitial cystitis, so I don’t know if my condition has really worsened that much and caused more symptoms or if I also have worms.

        My anal area feels kind of moist no matter how much I dry it, and I have been feeling an itching in my throat as if something like lint or a hair were stuck. This has gone on for a long time too. I have three older dogs and one puppy that we found on Christmas Day that still needs the rest of its shots and hasn’t been wormed — in fact it’s past due for all of them to be wormed.

        It has felt a lot like appendicitis, but I have no appendix. I go to the doctor every 60 days and was there about three weeks ago, but obviously I don’t get tested for worms when I go. Whew what a mouthful. Any comments or advice?

        • Pets Adviser

          Um… Wow. We appreciate you taking the time to leave this comment, but sadly we are not M.D.s and cannot offer health advice of that nature. We’d strongly urge you to talk with your doctor if you have a pain that is acute and feels like appendicitis.

          Best of luck, and let us know how things go at the doctor.

      • Deniserudd22

        My name is Denise I am going through the same fear as Leslie, I was so thankful to see this post. I am trying to order a bottle of the Pyrantel is this what your talking about? 

        Product Number: 20344


        A double strength liquid wormer containing 4.54 mg pyrantel
        pamoate per ml. Controls both hookworms and large roundworms. Safe to use on
        puppies as young as 2 weeks of age, and on lactating bitches 2 weeks after
        whelping. Butterscotch flavor dogs love means no wasted product.
        Directions:Puppies 2 weeks of age or older and adult dogs give 1
        teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight.

        View Larger

        To order 2 ounce size, click

        To order 8 ounce, click

  • S Apitz

    I want to give my dog the dewormer I purchased (Hartz). It says 5ml per 5 lbs., so I want to give my 60-pound Queenland’s heeler the whole 60ml bottle (2 oz). I cannot find on the packaging or online how often I should be giving this medication to my dog. It doesn’t say anywhere how often. Does anyone know?

    Thank you,

    • Christahagoood

      Hey Sue

      I’m only speaking for myself, but with a little research online you might feel the same way. I do not use, and never will I use, Hartz no matter how bad the circumstance.

      I don’t even use toys or shampoos or anything, the reason being that they may be linked to cancer, especially the flea drops and wormers. Take heed with these products.

  • Luvpuppeas

    I wasn’t asking for any kind of medical advice, not at all. And I know everything I said is kind of shocking to hear from a complete stranger, but I really just wanted to know if I sounded crazy or if this sounds at all possible. You know, I just wanted a sounding board because it sounds so freaky. I want to know if it’s even possible or if it sounds like it could be in my head. I want to know how I sound to other objective, rational people.

  • Luvpuppeas

    My apologies for being so graphic. It’s just that I haven’t been able to share my possible theory with anyone, not even my wife, let alone my doctor. Iit sounds so crazy, and it’s disgusting too. So anyway, sorry if I was rude or inappropriate to share something so crude; I was sort of desperate.

    • Pets Adviser

      No worries, Luvpuppeas! We don’t think you hurt anyone’s feelings. :)

      Maybe someone can offer some helpful comments. Best of luck to you.

  • HollyPuppy

    Hello, I recently learned my puppy has roundworms. My puppy had diarrhea today; I instantly recognized the roundworms in her stool. The two worms in the diarrhea were 6-7″ in length. I am sure glad we didn’t eat spaghetti tonight — that was my first choice for dinner!

    I kiss my puppy on the mouth every day. My puppy sticks her face straight up in the air and squints her eyes wanting kisses. I am sad that I will never do that again, although she keeps asking for her regular kisses. Does a human have to get tested for possible worm infestation, or can a person buy the medication and treat themselves?

  • newpuppymom

    I took my puppy to the vet today (she is 15weeks) and discovered she has roundworms. I am new at this whole puppy thing and concerned because I have 3 kids at home. The vet told me the possibility of the kids getting the worms and to make sure they wash good after touching the puppy. My question is, how long after the treatment do we need to continue to be “concerned” about the transfer of worms. This is our first family pet and I don’t want the kids to be hesitant to play and cuddle with her. I want this puppy to be loved on without the thought of catching worms from her.
    We are DEFINITELY going to get all her shots and do a preventative as often as our vet recommends. I guess I didn’t realize how easy and common it is for puppies to get worms.

  • Deniserudd22

    My little dog was very ill all day yesterday she was lethargic, dehydrated, with a fever, I took her in to the Vet Hosp. this morning to find out she has hook worms, low white blood cells causing anemia. she is having to stay in the hospital tonight I am afraid and curious if the chances are good that she will get better? I have two other dogs at home that may also be infected I purchased medicine for them as well from the vet, although they are not sick is it just a matter of time for them to also get weak and a fever?

  • Marie Hansel

    We just rescued a pup whom we were told has tapeworms, other worms and very flea ridden.. its too late to take to the vet now, but I am 28 weeks pregnant, have a 4 year old son and 2 healthy dogs. Any precaustions to follow until we can get the poor thing to the vet?

  • Sandra Goldstein

    It’s bold of you to hit us with the facts. We love our dogs but we’re fools if we think they can do no wrong. But the truth is, dogs are animals, and they don’t use a knife and fork to eat their food like we humans. As a result, they pick up all kinds of stuff – and pass it on. I guess most folks make the mistake of thinking that humans have human worms and dogs have dog worms, like we can nominate our parasite. So you’re right to point up that friendly dog licks come with a downside and you have to clean up after. Anyone who’s visited a petting zoo will know how crazy those places are about cleanliness. There are hand washing facilities all over, because they know too well how easy it is to pick up a bug from a cute baby goat. What’s great about your article is that all is not lost if you pick up a bug. There are clear symptoms to watch out for, and ways and means of sorting the problem – it’s not like the critters can keep themselves hidden away out of sight.

  • Jai Bee

    my child has eaten animal feces he has severe MR and autism. He has been constantly constipated for the past 6 years and needs weekly colonics to eliminate anything from his bowels. I think he has worms but the Dr’s won’t treat him for them, they take stool samples from the colonics and say it’s normal. They tell me he is stool holding, if that were the case there would come a time when he’s sleeping where he would have no choice but to go. Also why haven’t his intestines ruptured after a time he hadn’t defecated in over a year? We started colonics because he turned yellow and cried every waking minute of the day. Our once hyperactive child was lying on the couch crying all the time with a swollen face and yellow body and the pediatricians answer was to send us home with a fleet enema which I gave him and nothing came out. Thank God for colonics but it seems to only treat the symptom of the underlying problem.

    • Sally

      you should look into natural remedies. Think garlic. Stool samples are not always accurate and doctors are very dismissive of the thought of parasites in humans. First try the pinworm medicine found in drug stores. The problem is, it sounds like his intestines are already blocked up which is bad. Might require surgery if natural remedies and doctors aren’t taking you seriously. Think about tumeric and garlic to start.

  • carla

    i was sick for years, my doctors couldnt figure anything out. my dog had parasites, my cat, myself and my daughter got them. do a parasite cleanse if your pet has parasites because they probably gave them to you. millions have them and suffer for no reason!

    • Sally

      Most doctors don’t even take parasites in humans seriously and will avoid testng you for that. I wish they wouldn’t act like that. They often throw out that option if you haven’t been out of the country.

  • carol1234

    I have a question. My father in law just 3 day’s ago got two 2mo old labs from a farm they had alot of fleas and I volunteered to wash them they licked my feet (I was wearing flip flops) and I let them play with my keys that they licked. A few minutes later one of the pups was pooping spaghetti sized worms not 100% sure what kind but they where long and alot and before that I was juggling a few things and put the keys in my mouth, could I have caught it? Also I shared a few frys with my 1year old, I’d bite half of them and she’d eat the rest could she get th too?? HELP WHAT SHOULD I DO??!!

    • David Deleon Baker

      Sounds like roundworms maybe. But you may be worrying needlessly. It’s my understanding that the dog would need to have licked its butt before licking your keys, which you then put into your mouth.

      Get the dogs treated. And see your doctor if you suspect infection in yourself or the little one. Signs of roundworms in humans include blood in stool, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, tiredness, and … worms in your poop.

      • Debora lichtenberg

        Dave is correct. To be blunt, transmission of roundworms requires what we call fecal oral contact. Have your pups checked and treated for all intestinal parasites and use proper hygiene for yourself and family.

  • FreakedOut

    Should i keep my puppy locked away, or is it safe for him to run around while he is being treated for worms. i cant afford the vet right now so im trying to handle it on my own. I’m very scared of worms but im trying to be brave, i dont want to get rid of him. He is 12 weeks old

  • marthapacheco0

    I just got a puppy and i took it to the vet the next day he got a de wormer shot and the shots he needed. .. but later that day he pooped something that looks like spaghetti. … After researching i believe they are hookworms. …. I have children that played with him prior to taking him to the vet should I be worried. …

    • Melissa Smith

      Hi martha! The best thing you can do here is to contact your children’s pediatrician. Explain that your children were possibly exposed to hookworms, and ask what can and should be done about it. You may also want to contact your veterinarian to ask him if your puppy’s feces will contain dead or dying hookworms — that may be why you saw the worms in his stool.

    • Pippa Elliott

      Hi there Martha,
      The short answer is no, you shouldn’t be worried, but yes, you should follow this up with a pediatrician.
      Kids under 5 are at greatest risk of acquiring worm infections from dogs, but statistically the risks are similar if the child plays in soil or mud (There can be worm eggs in soil). If the child gets worms eggs from the puppy’s coat on their hand, and then puts their fingers in their mouth they could infect themselves. That’s why it’s so important to wash hands after fussing a dog or playing in the garden.
      Because your puppy has worms, I’d speak to a pediatrician to see if a dewormer is appropriate. These medications are gentle and when given soon after infection occurrs can remove the risk of complications altogether. It could also be a help to collect a specimen of the worms, to enable accurate identification, which helps determine which medication is most appropriate (but if this isn’t possible don’t worry.)
      As to why you saw the worms in the pup’s feces, it’s highly likely the deworming shot did the trick and pup passed dead or dying worms.
      Oh, a final thought, it’s a good idea to bathe the puppy after deworming, to get rid of any worm eggs clinging to the coat.
      Whatever you do, don’t let this put you off dog ownership, you and your children will get so much in return, that the occasional glitch is worth sorting out.
      Dr Pippa Elliott MRCVS