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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Unpleasant discovery

This morning I found a small, white moving maggot in my dog's poo. He had only just gone and I went to clear it up straight away so it was not laying for more than five minutes.

What could it be?

Carol Davies, by email

Steve Leonard, TV vet, advises...

From the sounds of things it seems that what she has found is a worm - if it was short fat and ribbed (looking like a maggot) it's most likely it was a tapeworm.

Tapeworm are picked up from accidentally ingesting fleas or scavenging on dead carcasses that they come across on a walk. Once inside the dog they develop into the adult form of the worm feeding in the dog's gut and laying eggs wrapped up in segments. These segments are visible to the naked eye and look like grains of rice. Whole worms or longer sections of worms can also be passed out and it may be this is what you have seen. Because of the relationship with fleas it is very important to check for them by looking for flea dirt (black specs in the coat that turn pink or red when brushed out onto wet paper). By eliminating the fleas you will reduce the chance of re-infection.

However, there is no tablet or injection that will prevent dogs picking up tapeworms from scavenging so we have to concentrate on regular treatment. If your dog regularly picks up stuff you should worm your pet more frequently. Once monthly should be sufficient in most cases as it stops the worms completing their full lifecycle and seeding the environment with more eggs. For more information, visit


  1. It could be an immature roundworm (Toxocar). Usually only eggs are expelled in the faeces but my dog had a number of roundworm larvae in her poo when I first got her as a puppy as she had a very heavy infection. They can also be expelled in the faeces if you've just wormed your dog.

    Hope that helps.

  2. It may not have been a maggot, but instead a worm. I can't see a maggot surviving stomach acid, let alone the trip through a body - though your vet could confirm/deny/research further.

    If it were me, I'd at least be getting a wormer to be on the safe side, or if I was 100% certain it wasn't a worm, then I'd be taking my dog straight to the vets.

  3. Absolutely agree with Steve. Sounds very much like a motile tapeworm segment. Unfortunately, these days, we see so many of these (and Lungworm larvae) in poo samples sent to us for testing. The good news is that those owners are well ahead of the game by having their dogs worm counted. With a test costing just £6.50 there's no reason for owners not to have peace of mind. For more information, visit