My Dog Ate Maggots: Will He Be Fine?

My Dog Ate Maggots - Photo of a dog looking at maggots on top of dog food

Dogs always tend to find the weirdest things delicious — like maggots. If you’ve discovered your dog eating maggots and are wondering just what it means for him and his health, you’ll find it all laid out for you below.

If your dog has eaten maggots, he will most likely be fine! Maggots are excellent sources of protein and they eat the rotting flesh or excrement that they are on, so your dog’s risk to these sources would be very low. If they gobble down a lot of them, however, they may have some indigestion! The risk to dogs is most likely due to the presence of bacteria on their food source, which can be harmful in some cases. Below, you’ll learn about what maggots mean for your dog and complications to watch for.

Can dogs eat live maggots?

Yes, dogs can eat live maggots and many do regularly, as gross as it sounds. Whether live or dead, your dog will find them equally delicious and won’t hesitate to chow down on them if given the chance. 

Can maggots harm dogs?

Maggots are most likely harmless in and of themselves. They’re larvae of flies, after all, and are simply a pile of delicious protein particles for your dog. However, sometimes larvae can transmit bacteria to dogs when eaten (think food chain toxicity), and that’s where the potential risk may come from. More on that in the next section.

What happens if a dog eats maggots?

While maggots are most often harmless to dogs, the potential risk and danger to a dog’s health come from figuring out what the maggots are around (ie: their food source). The risks or complications shift depending on whether or not…

  • The dog ate a dead animal with maggots on it
  • The dog ate poop with maggots in it
  • The dog ate garbage with maggots in it
  • There were maggots in the dog’s food

My dog ate a dead animal with maggots on it

Whether it’s a squirrel or something larger, maggots will happily feast on a dead animal as a food source, and your dog will come along and gobble it all up. The maggots themselves are going to be irrelevant, as strange as it sounds. 

My dog ate poop with maggots in it

This is often the most common situation for dog owners. Maggots grow quickly on poop and dogs often find poop tasty, so they’ll make a beeline for it. Assuming it’s from another dog or domestic animal, the odds are in your favor that your dog will be fine. Since maggots grow quickly, the poop could still be fresh and not degraded and your dog will be okay. 

However, if the animal is a wild one (a bear, for instance), or the animal that pooped has parasites such as worms, those could cause a problem as far as infecting your dog. For this reason, of course, try to make sure your dog doesn’t eat someone else’s poop! There’s a line you never thought you’d hear, right?

The issue with this is going to be in the fact that a dead animal is most often starting to rot. The rotting flesh/meat is what can harbor bacteria and create an infection in your dog. Anything that rots is dangerous for dogs (or humans, for that matter).

The main risk potentially from roadkill is the disease that it could carry. Since roadkill isn’t vaccinated, they could be carrying any number of diseases and parasites that can, through the maggots, infect your dog.

My dog ate garbage with maggots in it

If your dog’s chowing down on some tasty leftovers with larvae on them, the risk is minimal. Again, it would come more from the bacteria and anything around the garbage, rather than the maggots themselves.

Dogs are impressively strong digestive systems that often earn them the title of “vacuums”. They can digest spoiled food easier than humans can and this means that garbage with a few maggots won’t cause much of a problem, unlike if a lot of humans were to eat it.

Maggots got into my dog’s food

This happens more than you might think! Any guesses on what the risk would be in this scenario? That’s right, the degradation of the food rather than the maggots themselves. In fact, this is considered the “safest” situation where a dog could eat maggots because the dog food itself is not laden with parasites or bacteria. It’s a “pure source” for the maggots to be in.

If your dog’s food has degraded to the point where it has maggots squirming around in it, you’re going to want to throw it out immediately. Like, yesterday. A dog should never eat expired or degraded food to the point where it literally has an infestation starting it. 

Can maggots live in a dog’s stomach?

Because of a dog’s strong and dedicated digestive system, maggots aren’t capable of living in a dog’s stomach. Just like if your dog were to eat a bee or a spider or anything else tiny, it would be digested quickly and easily. Maggots require oxygen and a food source to survive. Since a dog’s stomach is rich with acid and no oxygen source, maggots quickly die off.

Of course, the more he eats, the longer it takes, and this rich and sudden food source can cause tummy troubles (more on that later).

Dog maggot treatment options

Most likely you’re here because your dog’s already eaten the maggots and you’re trying to figure out what to do, right? The main thing is to take note of where your dog got the maggots. Did it come from roadkill? Poop from another animal? Garbage? Perhaps their own food? Identifying the source helps you also identify what possible complications may pop up, medically speaking.

In all cases, you’ll want to simply wait and see what happens. Again, the most likely scenario is that they’ll enjoy his snap and poop it out and be otherwise fine. If he’s eaten a lot of them, he may have some indigestion problems that lead to a bit of vomiting or diarrhea, but that, too, should pass. 

Can maggots kill a dog?

Maggots can kill your dog if they are laden, or around, a source that has parasites and bacteria. Since your dog is going to eat the maggots and their food sources, the toxicity rises and this means your dog is more at risk. If your dog is up on all of his shots, this will help a lot.

If you can tell that the source is rotten or you see evidence of worms or parasites in the source, a call to your vet is a great idea. They can often do a check on them to see if there is any cause for concern. Not to mention that they’ll tell you what to watch for.

The main risk from maggots is actually the fact that they love wounded and dead things. If your dog is feasting on them, and they see that your dog has a small cut or an opening on its skin, they’ll latch on to your dog and start to bore their way in. This is what maggots do, after all.

This is where the risk lies because they can release toxins and other natural defenses to protect their food source (ie: your dog). Since maggots can grow terrifyingly quickly, catching a potential maggot infestation is crucial to do quickly.

What to do if your dog has a maggot infestation

If you see a maggot taking root on your dog, the most important thing to do is manually remove as many as possible from your dog’s skin. From there, you’ll want to take him to the vet to make sure they can use their tools to help with that. Your vet will cover the wound and maggot-rich area securely with a dressing.

The dressing is required to remove oxygen from maggots, which means they will die off. You’ll often get an antibiotic and potentially a topical ointment to help speed this up, and protect the wound. Once this process is complete, your dog should be back to normal in no time!

What to do if my dog eats maggots

If you’re worried about your dog’s protein-rich snack, here are some tips to help you stay focused on your dog’s health and safety.

  • Remove any you find on his fur and face
  • Check the source to check for bacteria and complication risks
  • Watch for diarrhea, vomiting, etc
  • When in doubt, call your vet.

While dogs regularly eat maggots and are totally fine, the first time it happens can be really intimidating. If you aren’t sure or want a second opinion on your dog’s health and safety, your vet is the best call to make! 

Dogs find maggots tasty protein sprinkles in their daily life, but sometimes they can do more harm than good. Know the signs to watch for, and when to reach out for help!

Conclusion

If your dog eats maggots, sometimes they can carry bacteria and parasites into your dog as he eats them. If your dog eats a lot of maggots, he may have some indigestion. Maggots can cause an infestation if they find your dog a good host, and this means that you’ll need support from a vet.

Thoroughly grossed out? Surprised with just how much a maggot can do? Share it with another dog parent who should be in the know, too!

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