Why Are There Worms In Your Dog’s Water Bowl?

If you found worms in your dog’s water bowl, the good news is that they don’t come from your pet but from the environment. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that you have worms rampaging in your house because many worms target only stagnant water.

Having worms in your dog’s water is certainly an unpleasant experience, but most of the time your dog will be fine or may experience mild symptoms like diarrhea. Old dogs or immunocompromised dogs, on the other hand, could have it worse.

What are the worms in your dog’s water bowl? 

Small worms in dogs’ water bowl usually come from the environment, but sometimes they are on your pet and when they lick their fur, they spread it to everything else they touch with their muzzle, water bowl included.

Outdoor water bowls are especially at risk because they can attract all kinds of worms, which love the water because it’s slippery and still contains enough oxygen for them to live in.

You can find different kinds of tiny worms in dogs’ water bowl, they’re not all the same and some might be more harmful than others.

White worms in dog’s water bowl 

If you see white, long worms in your dog’s water bowl, they may be Gordian worms.

These worms are parasites of crustaceans and insects, not common house pets like dogs and cats. It is good news, but it’s still not a worm you want inside your dog’s body, that’s for sure.

The young Gordian worm lurks in vegetation near a water source until they are ingested by an insect along with the vegetation. They grow inside the insect (or crustacean) abdominal cavity, then trick the body into jumping into the nearest water source.

Once there, the now-adult Gordian worm jumps in the water bowl, where they normally live their adult life until an unfortunate dog might ingest them.

Luckily, they shouldn’t do much damage once in your dog’s body and they usually end up vomited or expelled with the stools. However, they are very long and linear like rubber bands, so look out for symptoms of GI tract discomfort in your dog.

Brown worms in dog’s water bowl 

There are many types of worms, so we can’t be sure of which kind of life in your dog’s water bowl, but a common type of light brown worm found in dogs is the roundworm.

If you found tiny brown worms in the water bowl, it could be this famous dog’s parasite that lodges in their intestines and can be dangerous if left untreated.

Luckily, roundworms are so common in dogs that any veterinarian is well-equipped to treat them. In fact, sometimes dogs can get roundworms as puppies, from their own mother.

Other ways your dog can get roundworms include worm eggs found on items (like the water bowl) or in the environment, and by eating small rodents.

Symptoms of roundworm infestation in dogs include:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Worms in the stools or vomit

If you see these spaghetti-like worms in your dog’s stools or you recognize any of these symptoms in your dog, bring them to the veterinarian immediately to begin treatment.

Mosquito larvae in dog’s water bowl 

Your dog’s water bowl is the perfect place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs because they require a pool of standing water, like a puddle or a pond. Mosquitos can lay up to 300 eggs at once, and in 10 days these eggs will turn into pupae.

If your dog ingests the eggs or the pupae, the acids in their stomach are strong enough to destroy them, and these larvae do not carry any disease.

However, when the pupae have already turned into mosquitoes, then these insects may start feeding on your dog’s blood.

On top of that, they may infect your pet with heartworm disease, which clogs the major blood vessels leading to the heart, reducing the blood supply to the other organs.

Symptoms of heartworm disease in dogs include:

  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Loss of stamina
  • Fainting (especially during physical activity)
  • Limbs swelling
  • Anemia
  • Jaundice

To prevent this from happening, simply clean your dog’s bowl every day. As soon as you throw the water out, you eliminate all the larvae. Consider investing in a pet fountain to keep the water fresh and running.

What should you do if there are worms in your dog’s water bowl? 

The first step is to prevent your dog from drinking any more of the contaminated water, so throw it all out and monitor your dog for signs of gastrointestinal issues.

Most dogs might experience diarrhea or mild stomach upset if they’ve been drinking contaminated water, however, some dogs may require a medical examination if they show symptoms such as:

  • Weight loss without changes in the diet
  • Weight gain despite lack of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive licking of the anus
  • Dragging their rear across the floor
  • Lethargy
  • Recurring diarrhea

Old dogs or dogs with pre-existing medical issues or immunocompromised systems could have the worst reactions, so it’d be safer to have them checked as a preventive measure, or at least call your veterinarian to hear their advice.

If you find moving white specks in your dog’s poop after they have been drinking contaminated water or water from the dog park bowl, bring them to the veterinarian because they will need to be dewormed.

Afterward, you want to make sure all of your dog’s bowls are squeaky clean, but be careful not to use bleach to clean your dog’s bowls because it is toxic to them. You can use dish soap as long as it doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients.

Handwash the bowls and rinse them multiple times with warm water, making sure to use a separate sponge for them. As a general rule, always use separate tools for your pet’s stuff, they shouldn’t mix with the items you use for you and your family.

You should clean the bowls every day, especially if you keep outdoor water bowls for dogs. Keep at least 2 pieces of each bowl, so your dog has access to fresh water even while you’re cleaning the other bowls.

If you have plastic bowls, you might want to change them into stainless steel bowls, because plastic is the worst type of material for dogs’ bowls in terms of harboring bacteria, worms, and infections and it can also cause allergies.

Ceramic and glass bowls are good alternatives, but they tend to break easily and could hurt your pet. Stainless steel bowls are the safest choice for pets.

Can dogs get worms from drinking water? 

Yes, any stagnant source of water is bound to fill with bacteria and parasites, especially a public one that is used by many animals (not only dogs, because dog parks are still parks with their own natural environment).

Public water bowls are responsible for most dog park diseases. While finding a water bowl on the go may feel like a blessing for a dog that has been walking for a while, you should refrain from letting your dog drink from public sources.

You don’t know how often the water at the dog park is changed, nor you know what dogs and other animals have done with it. In fact, your dog may get infected with different bacterias and parasites if they drink from these bowls.

Coccidia 

This parasite causes abdominal pain and gastrointestinal discomfort because it targets the abdominal cavity specifically. Luckily, coccidia infestation often goes unnoticed in dogs and only provokes mild symptoms.

However, coccidia can cause severe damage to these categories:

  • Puppies
  • Old dogs
  • Dogs under immune-suppressive medications
  • Dogs affected by cancer
  • Dogs with weakened immune systems

Currently, we don’t have a vaccine against coccidia, so the only way to keep your dog safe from this parasite is through prevention.

E.coli 

This bacteria can survive for a long time in water and causes gastrointestinal discomfort in dogs, so you can expect vomiting and diarrhea.

The problem with E.coli is the possibility of the bacteria entering the bloodstream. In that case, your dog is at risk of going into endotoxic shock which can be lethal without prompt treatment.

Symptoms of endotoxic shock in dogs include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Heavy breathing
  • Weakness
  • Pale gums
  • Low blood pressure
  • Collapse

Another problem with this bacteria is that E.coli is dangerous for humans who come in contact with the infected dog as well. Unfortunately, there is no way to vaccinate dogs against E.coli.

Giardia 

This parasite survives, lives, and grows healthily in water. It has different subtypes that can cause different kinds of issues for dogs.

Usually, it causes mild to severe episodes of diarrhea, but it also depends on many factors like how old the dog is and how many Giardia parasites they got infected with.

Some dogs may be infected with this parasite, but now show any symptoms. However, they are still a source of infection for other animals.

This parasite is spread by fecal contamination. Of course, dogs do not poop in water bowls, but they may dip their paws in it and if they touch other feces, they easily contaminate the water for everyone else.

Unfortunately, this parasite can affect people as well and there is no vaccine available for dogs against Giardia.

Leptospirosis 

This is another bacteria that absolutely loves water and is spread through the urine of other animals, even if they’re not dogs. In fact, one of the main problems related to public dog water bowls is the amount of urine you may find in it.

Not only dogs may urinate in the bowls, but the other animals in the park could, too. And parks are full of small animals like squirrels and rats, even if we never happen to see them during our walks.

Lepto is highly contagious and causes kidney failure in dogs, which means that your dog will start drinking and peeing a lot (this could also be a reason why some dogs may be peeing into water bowls at the park).

This bacteria can affect humans, too, but luckily there are vaccines for it, so make sure to ask your veterinarian about the available prevention measures for Leptospirosis and other bacteria.