Maggots are the stuff nightmares are made of. As humans, it’s natural for us to have an aversion to them. After all, they are often found in dead animals, which would make us very sick if we ate them.
Your dog, however, doesn’t have the same issues with maggots. It’s unlikely your dog is seeking out maggots to chomp, but they don’t seem to mind munching on them if they happen to be in what they are eating.
What happens if a dog eats maggots?
Maggots are considered unsanitary and disgusting. Your skin likely crawls at the thought of your dog eating maggots. The good news is that maggots themselves won’t hurt your dog, although large amounts of them might cause digestive upset. The problem is what your dog ingests along with the maggots.
What are Maggots?
Maggots are fly larvae. Flies lay eggs in places where the maggots can feed, often in dead animals or garbage. Once the eggs hatch, the maggots begin eating whatever they were laid in, from food to poop.
Scientists are currently researching maggots as a food source. In some cultures, they are already a popular snack. They are very high in protein and fat.
Amount of Maggots
Maggots themselves are perfectly safe for your dog in smaller amounts. In fact, they are quite nutritious. If your dog eats a large amount of maggots, they may experience some digestive upset. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea could occur. It should pass within 24-48 hours.
Food Chain Toxicity
Maggots themselves are not harmful themselves. However, they can carry bacteria that can make your dog sick. This comes down to what they’ve been eating. If they eat something contaminated with bacteria, they can pass it on to your dog if they eat the maggots.
One of the main concerns about eating maggots is that they are often found on dead animals. If your dog is consuming maggots found on a dead animal, they are likely also eating the animal itself.
Rotting flesh can contain a number of harmful bacteria and parasites that can make your dog ill. They are less susceptible to bacteria than humans. They evolved to eat animals in the wild, including dead carcasses. However, the bacteria can still make your dog sick.
Another concern when your dog eats a dead animal is diseases and parasites the animal was carrying while alive. Some diseases and parasites can be passed on to your dog through the animals’ flesh or the maggots.
Flies love to lay eggs in poop as well. Maggots grow quickly in poop, and some dogs love to munch it as well. Poop itself isn’t harmful to your dog, as gross as it sounds.
The concern is that parasites can be transmitted through poop. If your dog eats infected poop or maggots that were eating infected poop, they can become infected with parasites.
Garbage is a dog favorite. Perhaps it’s the tempting smells of food, or simply the forbidden nature of the trash can. At some point, nearly every dog gets a trash snack. Flies also like trash. It’s a good place for them to lay eggs, because it provides food for maggots.
Dogs’ strong digestive systems mean that they can generally eat garbage and be ok. Their stomachs can kill many bacteria that would make you very sick. If your dog ate garbage with maggots in it, they should be fine.
It’s probably not the place you expect to find maggots. From the maggots perspective, it’s a great spot to feed. Dog food provides maggots with plenty of nutrition.
The problem with maggots in dog food isn’t the maggots themselves. It’s the maggots ability to break down food. When consuming a rotting animal, the maggots digestive ability is beneficial.
When it comes to dog food, it causes the food to break down. Degradation normally happens over time. Dog food should only be fed to your dog within a month of opening the bag because it breaks down over time.
The food oxidizes and looses some of its nutritional value. It may also smell and taste less appealing. If you find maggots in your dog’s food, you’ll need to throw it out. However, your dog should be fine.
Why would my dog eat maggots?
Dogs eat maggots because they happen to be in or on something else they are eating. Basically, it comes down to smell. Your dog loves things with a pungent smell. The items with a strong smell are often items that are spoiled.
The scent from dead animals and trash is enticing to your dog, so they eat it. It’s hard to imagine poop being enticing, but dogs smell each other’s poop to learn about each other. They certainly don’t find it disgusting.
What to do if my dog eats maggots?
If your dog ate maggots, you are wondering what you should do. In many cases, all you need to do is watch and wait. In other cases, you may need to visit the vet.
Watch and Wait
If your dog ate maggots in their dog food, all you need to do is keep an eye on them. If they have eaten a large amount of maggots, they may experience some stomach upset. It should subside quickly, and there shouldn’t be any lingering symptoms.
If your dog ate trash, you don’t have much to worry about. Watch for signs of gastrointestinal upset, but it shouldn’t cause any problems. If your dog gets severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, make an appointment with your vet.
If your dog ate poop with maggots, the concern is what was in the poop. If it’s poop from another dog that’s free of parasites, you have little to worry about. If it was from an unknown animal, it’s best to get a check-up to make sure your pooch didn’t pick up a parasite.
Call the Vet
There are some instances where it’s wise to take your dog to the vet. If your dog ate a dead animal, it’s best to get them checked out. If they ingested harmful bacteria, you can expect them to have vomitting and diarrhea. They may need medication. If they get an infection from the dead animal, they will need antibiotics.
The other concern, again, is parasites. Dead wild animals are more likely to carry parasites than domestic animals who are typically dewormed. Contracting intestinal parasites isn’t an emergency, but they can make your dog sick over time. Your vet can perform a test to check for parasites. If your dog has contracted one, dewormer will be given.
No matter where your dog picked up the maggots, take them to the vet if they are severely sick. Fever, racing heart, heavy panting, frequent vomiting, and severe diarrhea are all signs that your pooch needs prompt veterinary attention.
How can I prevent my dog from eating maggots?
Preventing your dog from eating maggots can be challenging, particularly if your dog loves to explore or eat things they shouldn’t. There are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of your dog eating maggots.
Clean Up Poop
If your dog enjoys snacking on feces, keeping it picked up is essential. You should pick up any poop you find in the area where your dog spends the majority of their time. For most dog owners, this is their yard. When you go for walks, keep your dog on a leash so they can’t get to anything undesirable they find along the way.
Keep a Lid On It
Keep a lid on your trash can. This makes it difficult for flies to get inside the trash can and lay their eggs. It also keeps your dog out of the trash. If you have a particularly determined dog, you may need to latch the trash can lid to the trash can.
Store Dog Food Properly
The best way to store dog food is to use a sealed container. Plastic storage tubs work well for large amounts of dog food. For smaller amounts, a cereal container is perfect. This keeps the food fresh longer and prevents flies from getting to the food to lay eggs.
Avoiding Dead Animals
It goes without saying to remove any dead animals you find on your property. You’ll need to dispose of them properly. Burying a dead animal is an option, but your dog may dig the animal up.
Many areas allow you to place dead animals in the trash. You’ll need to place it in a garbage bag. Tie the bag or seal it with tape. You can then put it in your dumpster. In some areas, you may be able to call sanitation and have them pick the animal up the next day.
When handling any dead animal, especially wildlife, avoid touching the animal if possible. If you must touch it with your hands, use gloves and wash your hands thoroughly once the process is complete.
Can maggots live inside a dog?
In short, no. At least not if your dog ingests them. Maggots can’t survive a dog’s stomach acid. This stomach acid is also what allows them to eat many things that would make a human violently ill, like trash or roadkill.
Maggot Skin Infestation
Flesh is a maggot’s favorite meal, regardless of whether the animal is dead or alive. The biggest problem maggots themselves pose is wound infestation.
If your dog is exposed to maggots and has a wound, maggots can get into the wound. It’s also possible for a fly to lay eggs in the wound, which also causes maggots as the larva hatches.
Fly eggs hatch within 1 to 2 days of being laid. Hundreds of maggots will infest the area and begin feeding. They will feed off the flesh, making the wound bigger. If allowed to continue, the maggots can actually eat a hole in the dog, and even reach internal organs.
In addition to eating through the wound, maggots will release toxins into the dog’s body. This can cause lethargy, fever, and shock. Left untreated, a maggot infestation can be deadly within two weeks.
Maggot infestations are easy to see, because they will be visible in the wound. If your dog has long hair, they can be harder to spot. It’s important to inspect your dog’s skin and fur at least once a week to check for maggots, fleas, and skin issues.
Maggot infestation is treatable, but it must be performed by your vet. Never try to kill maggots on your dog yourself. The methods used to kill maggots can also harm your dog.