We received a question yesterday about some “tiny wormlike insects” that our reader has recently been finding around the bed of her dogs. Despite the worm-like insects, which are most likely larvae, around the dogs’ bed, the reader hasn’t found any of the creatures on the dogs themselves. The reader seemed perplexed by this, and asked us what the larvae (or whatever they are) around the dogs’ bed could “possibly be”?
Given that this is all the information we were given, and since no picture was submitted along with her question, it is obviously hard to say. We can offer some ideas about what these worms “possibly” are – finding worms or larvae in a dog’s bed isn’t really that strange, even if it’s a bit concerning – but we can’t say anything definitive without more information.
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That said, the first thing that came to mind when we read our reader’s email is that she is finding flea larvae. Flea larvae are extremely small – they are only a few millimeters long – so they might reasonably be described as “tiny wormlike insects.” They are also found on the bedding of pets with some regularity because dogs and cats are susceptible to flea infestation. They can get them from the environment or from contact with other pets. If there are flea larva on a dog’s bed, the dog almost certainly has fleas, but you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see the larvae themselves on the dog. Apart from causing itching and discomfort for the pet, fleas are also a major source of tapeworm infection. Fleas infected with tapeworms can be ingested by a pet, and in this way tapeworm infections are transferred to animals.
And speaking of tapeworms, we suppose it is possible that this is what our reader has found on her dogs’ bedding. She wouldn’t have seen an entire tapeworm, but rather segments of their bodies, which look like grains of rice. Generally, though, these segments are found in a dog’s feces – it would be unusual to find them in isolation on a dog’s bedding (and it would be at least as unusual to see them on the dogs).
Both of these suggestions assume that the reader’s dogs are suffering from an affliction, and that this affliction is giving rise to the worms in the dogs’ bed. However, the creatures our reader found might not have a connection to the dogs in this way. For example, it is possible our reader found something like carpet beetle larvae, which could be drawn to her dogs’ bed because of the hair we assume is on it. (Hair contains keratin, which carpet beetle larvae eat.) A few months ago a reader actually wrote to us about carpet beetle larvae on her cat’s blanket. If she did find carpet beetle larvae, there would be no reason to find them on her dogs.
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We suggest our reader look into the possibilities we list to see if anything matches what she found. Even if they don’t, perhaps we have at least pointed her down some promising paths of inquiry as she searches for an answer to her question.