Earthworms. Of all things to eat.
And at first, you may have not thought much of it.
But it may have suddenly dawned on you; is this problematic. Could it even be harmful?
Do you need to do anything now, in response?
Well today, I am going to be covering all these things, along with how you can help to reduce the chances of this from happening again going forward.
So, will eating Earthworms hurt my dog? Typically, eating earthworms won’t immediately harm dogs, but it can pose risks. Earthworms may carry parasites, bacteria, or harmful chemicals from soil/products used around the lawn. In such instances, veterinary support may be required.
Still concerned? Speaking with an online vet now, as you can do below, may ease your mind:
Risks To Dogs Eating Earthworms
Earthworms live in the soil and are exposed to various types of bacteria, some of which can be harmful to dogs.
While the digestive systems of dogs are generally robust and can handle a degree of bacterial exposure, certain types of bacteria, such as salmonella or campylobacter, may cause harm.
Symptoms of bacterial infection can range from mild gastrointestinal upset to more severe issues like diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
Earthworms can act as intermediate hosts for certain types of parasites, like lungworms.
This means that the parasites can use the earthworms as a way to enter your dog’s body.
Lungworm can cause respiratory problems, weight loss, and in severe cases, it can be fatal.
Another risk factor is the possible exposure to chemicals or pesticides in the soil where the earthworms live.
If these toxic substances have been used in your garden or the areas where your dog roams, there is a chance that the earthworms ingested by your dog are carriers of these chemicals, which could lead to various health issues such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or even organ damage.
What To Do If Your Dog Has Eaten Earthworms
If your dog has eaten earthworms, it’s important not to panic (as this can cause stress in anxiety in your dog.
You will need to monitor your dog very closely over the next 24-72 hours.
Look for any changes in behavior or symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, lethargy, or difficulty breathing.
If any of these symptoms arise, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Keep in mind that while the ingestion of earthworms can potentially cause some of the issues listed above, many dogs can consume earthworms without any ill effects.
Still, the safest approach if you are concerned is to contact a vet, right away.
How to Stop My Dog From Eating Earthworms
Monitor Your Dog When Outside
Supervision is crucial when it comes to preventing your dog from eating earthworms.
If your dog likes to dig and sniff around in the dirt, keep a close eye on them.
Redirect their attention to a fun game of fetch or another activity if they start to show interest in worms.
Limit Access To Areas Of The Lawn
Another effective strategy is to limit your dog’s access to specific areas of your yard, particularly those that are rich in earthworms.
This could mean setting up a dog-friendly area that’s separate from the rest of your garden, or even using baby gates or similar barriers to cordon off certain sections.
Prevent Your Dog From Going Outside After A Period Of Rain
Earthworms tend to surface after a period of rain when the soil becomes saturated.
Therefore, it can be beneficial to limit your dog’s outdoor time right after a rainfall, when the worms are more likely to be out and about.
Keep Your Dog Sufficiently Entertained
Boredom can be a key factor in a dog’s desire to hunt for earthworms.
Ensure your dog has plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation.
This can be achieved with regular walks, playtime, and engaging with interactive toys or puzzles.
If they’re entertained, they’re less likely to go looking for their own fun in the form of earthworms!
Keep Your Dog Full
Dogs might be tempted to eat earthworms because they’re hungry.
Ensure that your pet is eating a balanced, nutritious diet, and is being fed the correct amount for their breed, size, and age.
If they’re sufficiently satiated, they’ll be less likely to munch on earthworms.
Teach “Leave It” or “No” Commands
Training can play a crucial role in preventing your dog from eating earthworms.
Teach your dog basic commands such as “leave it” or “no.”
Be sure to reward your dog with treats or praise when they obey these commands, reinforcing their positive behavior.
Dogs can eat earthworms out of boredom, curiosity, hunger or for taste.
Still, just because they want to and can, doesn’t mean they should.
And, while most dogs can consume an earthworm here or there without issue, this is not something you should allow or leave to chance.
Earthworms can be carriers of a range of nasty things; from harmful strains of bacteria, to parasites, to toxic compounds.
So, be vigilant going forward.
In the meantime, if your dog has already committed the deed, keep a close eye on them.
If in doubt, or if any adverse symptoms appear, get in contact with a vet.
Why does my dog dig for worms
Dogs dig for worms due to their natural instincts. They are curious, love exploring, and are attracted to the movement and smell of worms, which can stimulate their hunting behavior.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.