Worm-like creatures in dog feces may be intestinal parasites, such as tapeworms, but fly larvae, also known as maggots, can rapidly colonize fresh fecal piles, often confusing owners, writes veterinarian Jeff Kahler. Dogs acquire tapeworms from fleas that carry tapeworm eggs, so treatment for tapeworms includes medicine to kill the worms and flea treatment to rid the dog of fleas. Fly larvae in feces are easily prevented — just promptly clean up after dogs, notes Dr. Kahler.



McClatchy Newspapers

            Darren was picking up his dog Robo’s waste and noticed white, wormlike creatures crawling in and on several of the stool piles. He finished cleaning up and then called the veterinarian.

Darren said Robo was prescribed medication to treat tapeworms. The dosage required several pills to be taken all at once by Robo. Darren followed the protocol and assumed the creepy little creatures were history. That was wishful thinking; about a week later, they were back on Robo’s stools.

Darren again treated Robo for tapeworms. This time, he also treated Robo for fleas, as tapeworms are often associated with fleas. Darren also began to scrutinize every stool Robo produced. His skepticism was rewarded as the ugly little beasts reappeared within the next week after the second treatment. Well, Darren wants to know what the heck is going on!

Darren needs to harvest stool samples containing the worms and have them examined by Robo’s veterinarian. I believe these wormlike creatures are not worms, but the insect larvae of flies.

If Robo had tapeworms, I would expect the initial treatment to have worked. There would not have been enough time for a new population of tapeworms to develop inside Robo in the week after the first treatment.

Tapeworms are intestinal parasitic worms that occur in several species of animals. The more common type in dogs is carried on the flea. When a dog bites at a flea, it can take in the tapeworm eggs by mouth and swallow them. This starts the development process in the dog’s intestinal tract, which culminates in a population of adult tapeworms. These adults mate and produce small segments that break off the adult worm and are passed in the stool. These appear as tiny, whitish, wormlike creatures that can wiggle and crawl in an undulating fashion. This fits with Darren’s description and his veterinarian’s assumption that Robo had tapeworms. These segments will dry up and appear similar to rice grains over time. The segments will eventually rupture, and the eggs inside stick to fleas and start the whole cycle over again. This is why it is important to treat for fleas when treating for tapeworms.

Of course, we know that Robo does not have tapeworms. In fact, Robo’s stool is not indicating he has any visible parasites.

Robo’s stool is likely colonized by fly larvae, most commonly referred to as maggots. Flies will lay their eggs in fresh dog feces and these will hatch into larvae that then feed on the fecal material. When the weather is warmer, hatching time can be very quick. I know, you’re thinking, “Yuck,” and frankly I am, too. I am not a big fan of maggots, but they are a part of the circle of life and nothing to be concerned about in the disease realm. If Darren were to pick up Robo’s stools more frequently, the fly eggs would not have time to hatch before disposal and would therefore not be seen.

(Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto, Calif. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto CA 95352.)

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/20/2858824/robo-may-not-have-worms-after.html#storylink=cpy

22 responses to “Worm-like organisms in stool may not be tapeworms”

  1. lori says:

    My vet says he can’t do anything for my dog.He pooped out a maggot.I

  2. Lea salinas says:

    My dog pearl pooped yesterday which she commonly does everyday but when i tried to clean it up i noticed a moving maggot comingnout of the stool at first i thought it came from a fly that laid its egg on the stool but at the second time the maggots are still no its making me worry about my pets health

  3. Ena Mills says:

    Did my dog eat something to get the maggots in its stool.
    What do I do to fix her.

  4. Samson says:

    My dog coco has been acting weird for the past week and a half and she’s been very aggressive with me… she has never been like this and today she had a extremely large amount (more then 30) of maggots in her stool… I am planing to see a vet but am unsure if it’s worth the money for a check up. I am worried that my dog is in a lot of pain can someone tell me what I should do?

  5. Brindledog says:

    Just how quickly can a maggot hatch? Today I cleaned up last night’s poop. And within a few minutes both my dogs decided it was too clean and each left their contribution. I did not see which one left which pile, as I had my back turned while watering my flowers.
    Both piles were no older than 10 minutes. When I went to clean them up, I found one (pretty sure I know who it’s from), had a tiny, white maggot-like thing crawling on top. It burrowed it’s way back into the poop very quickly. My first thought was actually a maggot, not a tapeworm, as my other dog had chronic tapeworm infestation when she was younger, and the segments were much, much larger. But two of her vets also said they’d never seen a tapeworm segment that looked like the one that came out of my her. So maybe the one I saw today is more normal size?
    However, still curious just how fast a maggot can hatch. I can’t believe a fly could lay an egg that hatches within 10 minutes (not that hot out, either), but I’m not a fly lifecycle expert.

    • Cm says:

      Same thing happened to me yesterday—only quicker than five minutes. I just ran in to get a bag. By the time I got back, flies were covering the poop an there was one white worm-like thing that was moving. I have seen tape worm segments, and these were much smaller. Plus, I just dewormed two weeks ago, and I’m not sure there’s been enough time for an infestation to develop.

    • Cm says:

      Just found this! This is has to be what happened.


      • Ryan says:

        I think this just happened to us. Thought it was worms but now I’m almost convinced it is maggots. That YouTube video was a big help. Still taking him to the vet in the morn but I don’t think it is worms. Very helpful article.

  6. Jacey says:

    I had a friends dog here and it pooped stools with little pink attachments that looked like tiny, pink candy kisses. They did not move and were gelatinous. IDEXX checked the stool and said there were no parasites. After a few hours the “kisses” dried and looked like little short brown hairs. The dog was wormed for tape and there were no more ‘kisses.” I have photographs. Is there any place to send them.

  7. Teri Dallis says:

    My dog has been pooping alot more than usual the last few days. Infact she even pooped in the house a couple of times the other night which is extremely unusual for her. Today when she pooped there was a long (4 or 5 inch) white flat substance hanging out of her rear end. By the time I got some tissue to help her it was only about 2 or 3 inches long. Is this an adult tapeworm? Should I take her to the vet? I haven’t seen any fleas on her.

  8. Ken Gallatin says:

    Dr. Kahler’s guess is wrong. The subsequent contributers are right. Yet, both can happen. The vet’s mistake was assuming the observer waited a long time before picking up feces. Experienced pet lovers know to check stool very often. These maggots matured inside our dear pets not in droppings left out. The real issue is the source of the bots or fly eggs. When they are aplenty, one should suspect the dog food as well as the usual suspects.

    • Meagan says:

      Thank you for that observation! I didn’t think it would be the cat food but the kitten does eat wet food. We’ll be better about getting rid of excess food immediately

  9. Aronn says:

    I have a dog who has been with me for several years already. I have never seen him pooping with a worm. I just knew because I always pick their poop, We always feed him with rice and a salmon because it’s his favorite and some high protein complementary diet. I came across a post that talks about worms in dog poop. And I think these could help your readers too https://ultimatepetnutrition.com/worms-dog-poop/.I’m keeping your blog for future reference.

  10. Michelle says:

    Our vet we’ve been going to for over 20 years completely failed us and I’m crushed. She took care of our last 3 dogs at the end of their lives, we and the dogs all loved her, we’ve always kept up with shots, flea/tick prevention, yearly visit, blood panel’s, in the raw diets, we’ve spent a fortune because they are family, when we called her to report our 14 year old Golden Ruby had “maggot” like things coming out of her butt, NOT IN HER POOP, she was SO rude, she knew she was on tick/flea and parasite prevention and she actually yelled at me on the phone while I cried “IF I SEE HER, AND ITS BAD WILL YOU AGREE TO DO THE RIGHT THING BY HER, THATS THE ONLY WAY I’LL SEE HER!!” I was shocked to be talked to like that, thinking “lady we’ve paid you easily over 20K, I know what’s best for her, I’d never let her suffer!” So we took her in, and she said the top soft tissue of her mouth was bleeding a little and it was probably a tumor, I showed her the 2 maggots I’d collected in a plastic bag, she said “I think it’s cancer.” I said “I think it’s a botfly or something, these crawled OUT WITH F HER RECTUM!!!!!!” She DISMISSED ME! I was crying so hard for Ruby thinking I was crazy, and she had cancer and the vet just said coldly “you can pay up front!” $300 Later I pulled another vet aside and asked if he’d give her liquid antibiotic for parasite because there’s nothing she can’t find a pill in and he was like “I will but ma’am that will be $600!” I said I didn’t care DO IT! She was soooo good and back to her old self for 3 months!!! But we all started smelled this awful smell thinking she rolled in something dead (we have 300 acres and invisible fencing) took her to the groomer, she smelled great! *Sigh* Then 2 weeks later the maggots started falling out of her butt again, alive and wiggling, we all just felt defeat, the crazy thing is she’d lay on the kitchen floor beside her dad and her brother but the maggots went no where near them!!! So I took her to another vet and they said it was tapeworm I showed them a baggie of like 60 dead maggots!!!! I said “They want nothing to do with poop they just crawl around her, it’s not tapeworm!!” He said “Well whatever it is this will get rid of it!” I’m like “Great $64 dewormer we take these yearly, more wasted money, no one will listen to me, THEY ARE MAGGOTS!!!!” I gave it to her and NOTHING, he said wait 12 days and call him back, I’m crying, she’s getting weaker, but still going outside with me and the boys, now there’s like 60 or so maggots coming out of her, she poops in the dog position and they come oozing out after. I can’t stop crying and lift her tail when we get inside the house in the light, she yelped SO LOUD I let go! I burst into tears thinking “Did I just see what I think I saw? OMG?” So I got one of my brothers to massage her ears while I gently lifted up her giant fan tail to move it out of the way, most of her anus was gone, I could see inside of her bottom and there were hundreds of maggots devouring her from the inside. I have never felt like the worst dog mom in my life, my whole family jumped in the car just bawling, we knew we had to drive her to the animal ER an hour away and stop her pain, we were all wearing sunglasses trying to hide our flowing tears and breaking hearts but we talked to her the entire way here, this wonderful creature we never deserved but was gifted to us a descendant from our first family dog, born in my parents bedroom, there’s so much I would do differently but no vet would listen to me and I still feel I failed my sweet red Ruby girl💔

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *