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Pets and pinworms

Pets and pinworms

Q: The pediatrician diagnosed our son with pinworms, which caused him a great deal of anal itching. Our pug, Murphy, has been scooting his rear end on the carpet. Could he have pinworms too? Did he give them to our son?

A: Pinworms, or threadworms, are responsible for more human worm infections in the US than any other worm. School-age children are most often infected, and they unknowingly transmit the worms to other people.

Because pinworms cause anal itching, it’s not surprising you might suspect Murphy also has them. But I can assure you that dogs and cats don’t get pinworms and can’t transmit them. Only humans get—and share—them.

It’s more likely that Murphy is scooting because his anal sacs are impacted. Dogs have two anal sacs, just below the anus, that contain glands which produce a pungent liquid emitted with each bowel movement. It’s one way dogs say, “I was here.”

Sometimes the sacs don’t empty completely, particularly in small-breed and overweight dogs. The full sacs are irritating enough to cause the dog to scoot his rear end on the ground in an attempt to empty them. Since Murphy is scooting, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian, who can relieve his discomfort.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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