A reader wrote to us from California because her dog was sniffing at a worm-like organism on her carpet. Her first concern was that it could be some sort of parasite, especially because there are small children in her home. She said that her dog is an indoor dog (even uses a litter box), and has been dewormed several times in the last 8 months. However, she is worried that the dog might have ingested some eggs on a hike they went on recently. Here is the photo of the mysterious creature:
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Our reader also included a description of the specimen, “The worm is very soft and pliable, but is not active. It is flat, very thin, nearly transparent, and about 1/2 inch long. It appears to be segmented and to have antennae like a centipede and either hairs or very short legs along its body, but it doesn’t look like any centipede I have ever seen. There are small red centipedes I have seen in the area that I live in, but my house is routinely sprayed professionally for crawling insects.” Here is another photo with a ruler for scale:
After reading the detailed description from our reader and looking at the photographs, we believe we know what her dog has discovered. We believe she was sniffing at the old skin of a centipede. As immature centipedes grow, they shed their skin and grow more legs. This process is called molting. What our reader found wasn’t active and seems to be too flimsy to be a living organism. We are confident that a centipede left this skin behind, and the dog found it. We think this is especially likely because our reader mentioned there are red centipedes present in the area. Although our reader keeps her house pest-free, a centipede might have snuck in through an open window, door, or vent. As long as our reader doesn’t continue to find organisms in her home, we don’t think she should stress about this situation!
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That being said, if our reader is truly worried that her dog might have a parasite, we strongly recommend she take her furry friend to the vet. We aren’t professionals and therefore can’t provide medical advice for animals or humans!