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Why Does My Dog Eat Worms – 6 Important Reasons!

Canines are renowned for their strange gastronomic preferences. Nonetheless, pet parents’ anxiety at their canines’ weird eating habits can multiply when they notice their dog has developed a penchant for worms. Which often prompts the question – why does my dog eat worms?

Dogs eat worms due to their scavenging instinct and curiosity. Pica, lacking enough attention, and behavioral issues may also cause dogs to eat worms. Dogs also eat worms if they enjoy the taste or are have a nutrient deficiency.

You’ll be glad to know this entire feature is dedicated to examining the reasons why dogs eat worms, along with a few helpful tips and tricks to help your dog overcome its love for wriggly things. 

Reasons Dogs Eat Worms

Despite the ‘ick’ factor, trust us when we say worms aren’t the worst things your furball can eat. Unfortunately, however, eating worms isn’t exactly suitable for your canine. That’s why identifying the reason behind your dogs preference for grub is essential in figuring out a viable solution. Here are some of the usual suspects behind the canine worm-eating quirk. 

Boredom 

You might not believe us when we say dogs will eat worms out of boredom – but it’s true. You see, canines explore the world through all their senses. However, they’re partial to chewing things to discover more about them. 

So, when your cooped-up mutt is allowed to venture outdoors, it’s not strange for it to go looking for stuff that’ll brighten up the day. Sometimes, that ‘stuff’ happens to be curious-looking wiggly worms that your pet may unearth thanks to its digging. 

It’s also equally possible that canines are attracted to the movement of worms and want to learn more about them. Consequently, nibbling on worms may be your dogs way of fighting tedium and exploring its surroundings – all in one go. 

Attention-seeking

Have you been constantly following your pet around the great outdoors in fear that leaving it alone will only result in a wormy feast? If that’s true, your dog may be deliberately going after worms to get your attention. 

Dogs are incredibly attuned to their parent’s behavior. And if your dog has gotten a whiff of the fact that you’ll give it your undivided attention every time it goes worm hunting – expect it to use the knowledge to its advantage. 

Canines are intelligent animals; sometimes, they’re much cleverer than we give them credit for. If you’ve been staying away from home recently or have been ignoring your furry best friend because of a busy schedule – then your dogs worm-ridden ploy to get your notice is even more likely. 

Curiosity

We’ve all heard of the saying – curiosity killed the cat. But, canines are no less inquisitive than their feline competition. It wouldn’t be wrong to say dogs have an innate snoopy instinct (no pun intended).

And, the only thing more meddlesome than a curiosity-driven canine is a curiosity-driven dog That’s why it’s not strange at all to see your dog sniff and explore every inch of your backyard. You can also expect it to try out some of the delicacies contained within – in the name of discovery. 

Thankfully, dogs will start growing out of their ‘if it moves, put it in your mouth’ phase once they hit the six-month mark. 

Pica

Did you know there’s a term for a canine’s habit of ingesting non-nutritive items? The phenomenon is so common among dogs that vets term the condition ‘Pica.’ 

So your mutt’s strange habits that include items like dirt, clay, fabric, worms, and even poop – all fall under the heading of Pica. The exact cause behind canines developing Pica isn’t known, but pet experts suggest it can be due to one of three reasons. These are electrolyte imbalances, starvation, or nutritional deficiencies. 

The easiest way for dog owners to rule out Pica as the cause of their pet’s bizarre dining habits is by visiting the vet asap. The veterinarian may run a few tests to rule out deficiencies or electrolyte imbalances. 

If all medical concerns are ruled out, the problem may be behavioral. Canines suffering from anxiety are known to eat strange things in their nervousness. In such cases, getting in touch with a reputable veterinary behaviorist is a good idea. 

Scavenging Instinct

Canines are natural scavengers. This instinct has been passed down to a modern-day dog from its wolf ancestors. Back in the day when humans hadn’t domesticated wolves – the animals survived by hunting and scavenging. Strangely enough, experts suggest it was the wolves’ scavenging instincts that led to stray near human encampments. 

So, how does all that tie into your pet’s love of worms? That’s simple. Even though your canine receives three square meals, its DNA is hard-wired to scavenge for something to chow down. That’s where the worms come in. 

When your furball goes all out after the worms littering the backyard, it’s answering its decades-old scavenging instinct to grab the opportunity of feeding whenever it presents itself. 

Fondness For The Way Worms Taste

Ever heard of the term – there’s no accounting for taste? Well, that’s true for humans and canines, apparently because some dogs like the way worms taste. 

There’s no explaining why the taste of grub appeals to particular dogs, and most of the time, dog parents resolve themselves to their furry bud’s peculiar preferences. 

And, while your pet’s tummy is way more acidic than yours and able to cope with a lot of weird stuff – it can still develop parasites like roundworms. Accordingly, you should try and curb your pet’s habit of eating worms despite its apparent liking for them. 

Is It Bad For Dogs To Eat Worms

It is bad for dogs to eat worms regularly. Creepy crawlies like earthworms may be excellent when it comes to improving your soil’s nutrient content, but not so much where a dog’s health is concerned. 

Worms swallow the soil and make it aerated – which is good for gardening. But in doing so, they become infected with bacteria and parasites left there by other animals. Naturally, since there’s no such thing as deworming for worms – they remain infected until your dog ingests them. 

And, that’s where all the trouble begins. Based on the type of parasite your dog has ingested thanks to the grub, the adverse reactions it may face range from tummy upsets to more severe problems like kidney damage. 

What’s more, puppies and adult dogs are vulnerable to developing roundworm infections which will require a deworming regimen to clear out your pet’s system. Additionally, if your dog does have a roundworm infestation – it could spread them to you. So, overall, it’s best if you keep your dog away from worms.

Will Eating Earthworms Hurt My Dog

Eating earthworms will not hurt your dog.

Earthworms look harmless and, for the most part, don’t adversely affect dogs. However, that’s not always the case 100% of the time. Earthworms can carry the eggs of a type of roundworm that can infect your pet’s ureter or bladder. 

Unfortunately, there are no apparent symptoms of such an infection, except that some dogs can exhibit the need for excessive urination or urinary incontinence. The treatment of this infection requires antiparasitic drugs. 

Besides that, earthworms can also be carriers of Dioctophyma Renal (a type of giant kidney worm). These parasites are hazardous, unlike roundworms, because they have the potential to destroy your pet’s kidneys – if infected. 

Once the parasite is ingested, it travels through the digestive tract to the liver and then to the kidneys (generally the right kidney) – where it blocks the organ and starts destroying the tissue. What’s worse, there’s no treatment for this condition – except nephrotomy or kidney removal. 

Why Does My Puppy Eat Dead Worms

Little pups are one of the most adorable things on earth. However, some puppy behaviors are beyond understanding – like eating dead worms. 

The first time pet parents catch their pup feasting on a dead worm – their usual reaction is to assume their pet is hungry. 

That may be the case sometimes, but mostly, pups will put anything in their mouth because that’s how they explore their surroundings. For example, some puppies will go about chewing wires, rugs, chair legs, etc., because they want to know what to make of such things. 

Another common reason why your pup may have taken a sudden liking to worms is the protein quotient. Little puppy bodies require a lot of protein right after weaning because they’ve got a lot of growing up to do. 

And, worms are sometimes referred to as ‘wriggling superfood’ because they’re jam-packed with proteins, iron, copper, and other essential nutrients. 

Can My Dog Get Worms From Eating Worms

Just as humans can get worms if they touch contaminated surfaces or drink contaminated water – dogs can get worms from eating worms. That may sound a little strange, but it’s true nonetheless. 

Additionally, canines can also suffer moderate to severe health concerns from such infections. For example, earthworms are known carriers of small roundworms that can cause bladder issues in dogs. On the other hand, earthworms may also be infected with giant kidney worms, leading to kidney damage in canines if ingested. 

Accordingly, we recommend it’s best to curb your canine’s worm-eating habit to ensure it stays safe from all such problems. 

 Can Dogs Smell Worms

Canines possess around 300 million olfactory receptors compared to 6 million receptors in human noses. Additionally, the area of your dog’s brain that deals with analyzing smells are approximately 40 times more powerful than ours. So, it’s safe to say that canines have a strong sense of smell. 

As to whether dogs can smell worms – the answer’s yes! When you see your dog roaming around the garden with raised ears, with their noses to the ground, followed by intense digging – you can be sure the dog has located some grub. 

How Do I Stop My Dog From Eating Earthworms

Any dog parent who’s ever caught their pet with a mouthful of wriggly worms will often react the same way – disgust and worry. It’s natural to be concerned about your dog’s well-being because eating earthworms can lead to potential health concerns in canines. 

However, here’s a trick that might save you anguish and stop your pet from eating worms. Try spraying your pet’s mouth with a doggie mouthwash every time you step outside for a walk or let your pet out in the garden. 

This will help alter the taste of grub when your dog tries to eat them. Many pet parents swear by this trick and claim it has helped break their pet’s habit of going after grub. On the other hand, if this trick doesn’t seem to work for you, it’s best to consult your vet about its grub-eating habit. 

At times, dogs are driven to eating grubs due to a condition called Pica – which can result due to electrolyte imbalances or nutritional deficiencies. If your pet’s liking for worms is related to Pica, curing the underlying problem should break its liking for eating worms. 

Other Factors

While worms aren’t toxic or poisonous for your canine to eat, your pet may develop health problems if you don’t control the habit. There are several precautions you can take to help break your dog from its love for wiggly things. Here’s how. 

Train Your Dog To Stay Away From Grub

Dogs are sometimes referred to as opportunistic scavengers because they don’t miss out on the chances of grabbing a meal. That’s also one of the motivators behind the weirdest of canine eating habits. 

However, you can use this doggy instinct to stay away from worms with the help of positive reinforcement. Try taking your pet’s favorite treats with you whenever you go out for your daily walks. The minute your dog tries to reach for a worm, tug on the leash gently and firmly state a ‘No.’ When your pet backs away from the grub, pat its head, speak words of praise, and award it with a treat. 

Do this enough times, and your pet will learn that eating worms is inappropriate behavior, and avoiding them will earn it a treat. 

Be Mindful About Deworming Protocols

Worms are often infested with parasites that can hitchhike their way into your dog’s system when ingested. That’s why it’s essential to keep track of regular deworming appointments with the vet to ensure that any infections your canine picked up from its worm-eating habit are eliminated. 

It’s also wise to inform your veterinarian about your dog’s liking for eating worms, so they carefully monitor your pet’s health for any related problems.