Can You Get Worms from a Dog Licking You? Just the Facts

Can you get worms from dog licking you

For many pet owners, there’s nothing more comforting than receiving affection from their beloved canine companion. One common way dogs show love is by licking their owners, but can this seemingly innocent display of affection potentially transmit worms to humans? The possibility of contracting worms from a dog’s lick is a cause for concern, and it’s essential to be aware of the risks associated with this behavior.

Yes, humans can get worms from a dog licking them. Hookworms, roundworms, and other parasites can be transferred from a dog’s saliva to a human, especially if the dog has eaten contaminated feces within a specific period.

While it may not be extremely common, it’s crucial for pet owners to understand the risks and take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety and that of their furry friend.

Can You Get Worms from a Dog Licking You?

Can my dog transfer worms to me

Overview of Zoonotic Diseases

Zoonotic diseases are infections that can be transmitted between animals and humans. While it is possible for humans to get worms from dogs, the odds are relatively low. However, it is essential to be aware of the potential risks and take necessary precautions to safeguard yourself and your pet.

Common Worm Infections in Dogs

There are several types of worms that can affect dogs, and some of them have the potential to infect humans. Below is a brief overview of some common worms in dogs.

  • Tapeworms: These are flat, segmented worms that live in a dog’s intestines. Tapeworms are usually transmitted when a dog ingests an infected flea. Although infections in dogs tend to be mild, severe cases can lead to malabsorption of nutrients and diarrhea.
  • Hookworms: Humans can potentially contract hookworms from their pet dog’s saliva. Hookworm eggs or larvae may be present in the dog’s mouth, and when the pet licks its owner, it could result in a hookworm infestation. Common symptoms of hookworm in dogs include anemia.

It is important to note that while some worms can potentially be transmitted through licking, it is not the most common method of transmission. The risk of getting worms from a dog’s lick is relatively low. Preventative measures, such as regular deworming treatments for dogs and good hygiene practices, can help minimize the risk of zoonotic infections.

Dogs’ Saliva and the Risk of Worms Transmission

Dog worm transmission

Licking versus Biting

While dog saliva plays a role in digestion, a 2018 study revealed that a dog’s mouth does not contain amylase, an enzyme associated with digestion that is abundantly found in human saliva. This suggests that dogs may have a different mechanism for digestion than humans.

However, when it comes to worms transmission, licking poses a considerably lower risk in comparison to biting. Although worms generally do not pass through dog saliva, other conditions such as rabies can be transmitted through a dog’s bite. The rabies virus enters through broken skin and, although rabies vaccination programs have significantly reduced the number of cases in dogs, dog-to-human transmission remains a possibility.

Worms in Dogs’ Saliva

Despite the risk of rabies transmission through saliva, worms are typically not transferred this way. Adult dogs tend to get hookworms from contact with larvae in stool-contaminated soil or from ingesting larvae in their environment or in a prey animal’s tissues. Nursing puppies can also acquire hookworms as the larvae in their mother’s body can migrate to their mammary glands, passing on the worms through their milk.

Nonetheless, it is crucial to be aware of various types of worms your dog may have:

  • Hookworms: Gotten from soil or ingestion
  • Heartworms: Transmitted through mosquito bites

In conclusion, while dog saliva itself does not carry worms, it is essential to maintain proper hygiene and be cautious about possible diseases your dog may transfer through biting or coming into contact with contaminated environments.

Preventing Worms Infection from Dogs

Regular Deworming

To reduce the risk of getting worms from your dog, it’s essential to keep up with their regular deworming schedule. This involves administering a medication prescribed by your veterinarian to eliminate any current worms and prevent future infections. It’s crucial to follow the guidelines given by the vet for the appropriate deworming regimen based on your dog’s age, size, and risk factors.

Hygiene and Hand Washing

Practicing good hygiene is vital in preventing worms infection from your dog. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling your pet, their food, toys, or waste. This simple act can significantly reduce the risk of accidentally ingesting worm eggs or larvae present on these items. Additionally, ensure that your dog’s living environment, like their bed and play area, is kept clean and free of fecal matter.

Limiting Face Licking

Dogs showing affection through licking might be endearing, but it may also facilitate the spread of worms. To minimize this risk, it’s a good idea to discourage your dog from licking your face or coming close to your mouth. Instead, encourage alternative forms of affection or redirect them to lick other parts of your body, such as your hand, which can then be easily washed. Teaching your dog this behavior will ultimately help protect you and your family from potential worm infections.

Signs and Treatment of Worm Infections

Worm infections can be a concern for pet owners, especially when there is close contact between dogs and their human family members. This section will outline the symptoms and treatment options for worm infections in humans and provide tips on how to care for a person who has been affected.

Symptoms in Humans

When a human contracts worms from a dog, the symptoms can vary depending on the specific type of worm infection. Common symptoms may include:

  • Itching or irritation around the anus
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea, sometimes with blood
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Visible worms or worm segments in stool

Medical Treatment

If you suspect a worm infection from your dog, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. The medical professional may prescribe medications to eliminate the worms, such as:

  • Albendazole: Commonly used to treat roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms
  • Mebendazole: Another option for treating roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms
  • Praziquantel: Typically used for tapeworm infections

It is crucial to follow the prescribed treatment plan and complete the full course of medication to ensure that the worms are effectively eradicated.


While undergoing medical treatment for a worm infection, there are additional steps you can take to support recovery and prevent reinfection:

  1. Personal hygiene: Maintain good hygiene by washing hands regularly, especially before handling food and after using the toilet or being in contact with pets.
  2. Clean environment: Keep your home clean and ensure your dog’s environment is also clean, particularly its sleeping and eating areas.
  3. Deworming: Follow your veterinarian’s advice on routine deworming for your dog to reduce the risk of future infections.
  4. Avoid undercooked meat: Ensure that all meat is cooked thoroughly to kill any potential parasites before consumption.

By following these steps and seeking appropriate medical treatment, humans can recover from worm infections contracted from their canine companions.