What happens if a dog eats a millipede?
Are Centipedes Poisonous to Dogs? How To Treat A Bite!
Despite your best efforts, did your doggo eat a centipede? It happens to even the most attentive pet parents so don’t fret. Here’s all you need to know about a centipede bite or sting in your dog, how to treat it, and how to prevent it from happening again!
Are Centipedes Poisonous to Dogs? You’ll be relieved to know that most of the time, not, centipedes are not poisonous to dogs. However, most of them do have a defense spray that they give off to protect themselves which can cause an allergic reaction to some dogs. Also, many centipedes can and will bite your dog, and this can leave them feeling as though they’ve been stung by a bee or a hornet, etc. If your doggo has eaten the centipede or it has been bitten or stung him, the most likely scenario is that he will be mildly irritated, but otherwise fine.
The size and type of centipede is also a factor. While most house centipedes are virtually harmless, some can be poisonous. The size of your dog can also play a factor. The smaller the dog, the more likely that a centipede will cause a reaction. Lastly, if your dog is allergic to centipedes, his reaction will also be stronger to an encounter, bite, or sting.
Table of Contents show
House centipedes vs millipedes
Of the two, centipedes are more dangerous than millipedes. This is because of their overall, mostly. Centipedes will often defend themselves by biting or stinging your dog if it tries to gobble up a tasty snack. Millipedes, on the other hand, tend to be more docile. Instead of attacking, they’ll release their defense spray and then curl up in a tiny ball and try to disappear.
You don’t necessarily need to know the difference between these two, but sometimes a vet — if one is needed — will ask if you know which one that he ate. If you do see your dog interacting with the bug, keep a note of these differences in their behavior.
How poisonous are centipedes to dogs?
Most centipedes are not poisonous to dogs, but there are a few very —terrifyingly — large wild ones out there that can, not only cause incredible pain to your doggo but may even be a fatal encounter. Some of the most dangerous ones include the Giant Scolopendridae, the Scolopendra Cataracta, and Scolopendra Cingulata. There are other poisonous ones, but these are thought to be the worst of them. Since these are wild ones, though, these are not the ones that you’re likely to find hanging around your house, though, which can be a relief.
As far as house centipedes, most of these are harmless as far as their strength of venom is concerned. That being said, if you have a den of them that your doggo stumbles upon, it’s possible that — like bees — a series of stings or bites could cause him a stronger reaction.
What do I do if a centipede bites my dog?
If you’ve discovered that your dog has been bitten or stung by a centipede, here are the steps to take to help him and you get through the experience as painlessly and as free from stress as possible.
Separate them as soon as you can
While it’s not all that fun to go fishing around in your dog’s mouth especially with a squirmy centipede — ew — you’ll want to get him to drop it as soon as you can Whether it’s a command that he knows from you to drop whatever is in his mouth, or it’s your manually making him do it, you’ll want to separate them as quickly as possible.
Stay calm and controlled to help him stay calm and controlled
Your doggo is going to feed off of your energy, so you’re going to want to keep your own energy soothing, calm, and loving. Even if you’re internally freaking out, keep your voice and touch gentle as you comfort your doggo and let him know that he is okay and safe. This will do a lot to minimize his physical and emotional reaction to it.
Check him over for signs of a bite or sting
Once you’re both calm and (ideally) inside your home where he can’t get himself into any trouble, you’ll want to check him over for any indications that he’s been bitten or stung (more on that later). Once you know where the site is, you can keep an eye on it as well as other symptoms.
Call your vet and follow their instructions on monitoring
Even if your dog appears to be fine, you’ll want to call your vet and let them know what happened so that they can determine whether he should be brought in immediately, or what potentially serious symptoms to watch for. You expect questions such as whether he ate it or was stung/bitten, and how long has it been since it happened, and others.
When in doubt, take him in
Even if your pooch seems fine, or your vet says it’s okay, don’t h estimate to take him in just to be safe. Just like with anything else, having an expert sign off and tell you that your pooch is fine can really do a lot for your overall peace of mind.
Symptoms of a centipede bite or sting on a dog
So, what to the actual symptoms of a bite or a sting on a doggo look like? Pretty much like every other kind of bite, really. If he has been bitten or stung (or is otherwise having a reaction), you’ll notice some or all of these symptoms.
A bump or a hive from the bite/sting
The area where he was bitten or stung will often be raised and red. It may be swollen, or it could just look like a regular bug bite. If you look closely enough at it, you’ll notice tiny little pinpricks which is where the bites or sting marks are within it.
Increased licking or attention to the sting
Since it’s uncomfortable and most likely mildly painful, your doggo will start licking or picking at the problem area to help curb the discomfort. Take note of where he picks and how much he picks, as this can give you a good idea of his pain level.
Excessive drooling (inflammation response)
If you notice that he is immediately drooling, this is actually called an inflammation response and it most likely means that there is a bite or sting in your dog’s mouth. It’s important not to punish your dog for drooling because it’s a biological response and he can’t control it. Not to mention it’s also going to clean the wound and help him heal faster.
Pain or discomfort
Your doggo may seem in pain or uncomfortable, too. Maybe he’s whining, maybe it’s panting, or he just seems off to you, as his loving and attentive pet parent. In this case, the pain may be significant enough that you’ll want to consider taking him to a vet to make sure that everything is okay.
Lack of appetite, restlessness
Either lack of appetite or restlessness — or both — are signs that he is really struggling with the bite or sting from the centipede. If you notice either or both of these symptoms, you’ll definitely want to put in a call to your vet and see if you can take him in for an appointment to make sure that he is okay.
How to treat a centipede bite on a dog
You can do some great first aid right at home if you’ve got an issue with your dog’s bite or sting. This can help calm his emotional and physical discomfort, and also make sure that you can do something with your own nervous energy, too!
Rinse the area with cold and clean water
Check the wound for stingers or poisonous hairs and remove them (carefully). Then wash the area out with cold and clean water, using a damp cloth. Don’t use detergents or sprays, as this may worsen a reaction (especially since doggos tend to be sensitive to a lot of skin products). Liberal use of cold and clean water will do well.
Use ice to cool the skin
If there is discomfort or pain on the skin for your doggo, to the point where he keeps picking at it, you can help ease the swelling and the pain by using ice in a towel to relieve it. Test it on yourself first to make sure that it isn’t too cold, and then hold it to your dog’s skin for a few minutes. Do this a few times until he doesn’t seem impacted by it anymore.
Be careful, though, to make sure that it’s normal swelling rather than an allergic reaction. If the swelling doesn’t go down or it seems like a lot of swelling for something as simple as a bite, give your vet a call! Better safe than sorry, right?
What attracts house centipedes?
Now that you’ve got the bite dealt with, you want to make sure that you’ve got a plan to help keep him free from the problem in the future. Centipedes are plentiful outside around the world, but you can get house centipedes, too.
Centipedes make themselves comfortable in their home because they have a safe place to make their nest and they have plenty of food. If you take away both of those things, they will move on to someone else’s home that has those things instead.
As far as those attractions themselves, centipedes and love basements or crawl spaces especially. They make their homes in those dark and moist corners and especially love hiding behind boxes and other slightly damp basement belongings. Since these are also popular spots for spiders and other food sources, they will have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet, too. So…why would they leave?
How to get rid of centipedes without harming my dog
Got a case of the creepy crawlies and want to do what you can to evict these many-legged house pests without harming your dog through chemicals? These ideas are all-natural and can actually work better than chemicals since they fix the problem rather than put a bandaid on it.
Get rid of their habitats
Make it clear that you don’t want them down in your basement or storage space by getting rid of those spaces. No, not literally your basement! Just tidy up the basement by keeping it clean, bright, and dry. Not only is it great for kicking out centipedes, but it’ll also help curb mold and other pests.
Keep your storage stuff on shelves rather than on the floor
When storing things in your basement, invest in durable shelving and store your belongings there, spaced out and off the ground. This leaves these creepy crawlies nowhere left to live and they’ll scuttle off to someone else’s home.
Make sure there are no points of entry
Most centipedes will get in through a crack in your foundation, a weaned window or a door frame, etc. Make sure that you have a strong line of defence by getting your home checked for those common weakened areas and reinforcing them with cocking and even preventatives such as window screens on your windows that you open regularly.
Keep your home clean
No, seriously! Centipedes live in the damp and dusty areas where their food lives. So, keep your home clean and dust bunny free and you’ll find that these pests will find it too clean and will go elsewhere. Talk about an incentive to clean right?
Air out your home regularly
Since centipedes love moisture, air out your home with fresh air regularly, especially in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. This dries up the moisture and will prevent them from checking out your home in the first place.
Keep your yard clear of dead wood or excessive stones
You’ll want to keep anyone from hitching hiking a centipede in, too. This means that your yard should be clear from dark moist areas such as under dead wood of layers of large garden stones, which are perfect habitats for them.
When in doubt, call a pro
If you need extra help or want a little bit of support in making sure that you don’t have a nest already in your home — more common than you’d think — you can always call in a pest control company and have them check out all of the nooks and crannies for you. Not only will they check out the problem, but they can also help ease your mind a lot.
Your dog may not understand that a centipede is not food or a playmate, but you can do your part to keep their interactions as safe and as minimal as possible!
Small Common Millipedes
Out of all the different species of millipede, the Common Millipede is the one most people are probably familiar with. You may have even seen this type of small millipede in your own house, apartment, garage, or basement.
The Giant Millipedes that this site is dedicated to are certainly far more conspicuous if you happen to run across one, but they are elusive creatures. Even if you live in the same geographic areas that they’re found in, most people probably won’t ever see one in the wild, unless they actually go looking for them.
The Common Millipede on the other hand is something that most people have probably seen, whether in your garden, in your home, or just outside in nature. They are very small compared to their giant cousins. These small Common Millipedes are rarely more than an inch long. They are generally black or dark brown in color, and their bodies are composed of many tiny round segments.
You might consider these tiny millipedes to be pests, but rest assured that they are harmless (although understandably annoying if they are freely roaming around inside your house).
Are Millipedes Poisonous or Venomous?
Millipedes are not poisonous and they aren’t venomous either. They also won’t bite or sting you. They also are not poisonous to dogs or cats. It would be easy to lump them in with centipedes (who do bite), but the comparison is unwarranted. Centipedes and millipedes may seem similar at first glance, but they are very different creatures. While centipedes can certainly be dangerous, millipedes on the other hand are essentially harmless.
If threatened, most millipedes will simply curl up in a ball for defense but many species can also secrete a defensive substance to protect themselves from predators. This substance is not toxic though. Some people do seem to be allergic to it however, so it’s possible you (or your pets) could have an allergic reaction to it if it gets on your skin (or if your pet eats the millipedes). In general though, it’s probably not a cause for concern.
Do Millipedes Cause Damage to Houses?
No, millipedes won’t cause any damage to your home or your property. They aren’t like termites or carpenter ants, and won’t start burrowing into your home’s wood. They also won’t harm your houseplants or vegetable garden.
Many species of millipede do feed partially on rotting wood, so it’s theoretically possible that if you have a serious rot problem with the wood of your house that millipedes might start munching on it. If the wood in your house has deteriorated to that condition though, then millipedes would likely be the least of your concerns.
Controlling Millipedes in your House
If you have small millipedes in your house, and you want to keep them out, your best course of action is to inspect your windows and doors to make sure there aren’t any cracks, holes, and gaps around the edges that they could squeeze through. You should also check your window screens to make sure they are free of tears and rips.
It would also be a good idea to inspect the outside of your house for any holes, crevices or other entry points as well. Check for any rotted wood or cracks in the exterior walls that could allow millipedes (or other bugs) so slip through, especially if you are living in an older house.
If you find millipedes in house plants and want to get rid of them, you may need to replace the soil completely to ensure they’re all gone (and haven’t laid eggs), but unless the problem is really bad this might not be necessary.
If you’re thinking about spraying insecticide poison around your home to keep tiny millipedes out, this probably won’t be a very effective straregy. It may have some benefit in the short term, but these creatures are almost certainly coming from outside, not from inside your home, so millipede insecticide won’t be a long-term solution. They are known to travel considerable distances and will migrate from outside into your home if given the opportunity, such as through gaps around windows, or simply from leaving the door open in the summer.
You can take comfort in the fact that any millipedes that do make it into your house probably won’t last very long though. Most species of millipede need relatively humid conditions, and so will most likely die from drying out once inside your house for a while.
Garden and Greenhouse Millipedes
The Greenhouse Millipede (scientific name Oxidus gracilis) is a different species from the Common Millipede. They’re about the same length, but their bodies have a much more pronounced segmented look to them than the simpler looking Common House Millipede. This species actually isn’t native to the US, but was accidentally introduced from Asia, likely on potted plants or mulch.
Like the Common Millipede, this species is not dangerous or poisonous. It also doesn’t pose any danger to homes, property, or plants. Like all millipedes, it only feeds on decaying plant matter. If you find them in your garden or greenhouse, they will happily eat discarded leaves or fallen, rotting veggies, but they will leave any living, healthy plants and vegetables alone.
If you have a particularly bad infestation of these tiny arthropods, bug spray still probably won’t be very effective. If the problem is in a greenhouse, then your best option for controlling the millipedes will likely be to follow the same general plan as for problems in the house (though this might be difficult since most greenhouses aren’t made to be as sealed off as the average house). Check for any obvious gaps, holes, or cracks in the greenhouse that would allow the millipedes to crawl in, and if you find any, seal them up.
Can You Keep a Pet Millipede?
If you wanted to keep a small millipede as a pet you certainly can! They would be an extremely easy to care for, undemanding pet that you could keep in a small space. They could be especially good for kids who like bugs.
Are you the parent of a kid who is really interested in bugs, insects, or arachnids and wants one as a pet? If you are personally too creeped out by bugs to allow your kid to keep one for a pet, then a millipede might be a great option! Millipedes are harmless, very slow moving, and don’t seem to provoke the same fear or “gross out” response that other types of bugs do in many people. In fact, some people even find them kind of cute!
There are actually plenty of people throughout the world who have pet millipedes. Usually though, they keep various species of Giant Millipedes as pets, rather than the small common house or garden types.
No matter what kind of millipede you would like to keep as a pet though, they are sure to be fascinating to observe and care for. Just make sure you set them up with a suitable home of their own!
How to Manage Pests
Horsehair worms often twist into a loose ball-shaped knot, such as these adults.
An example of a horsehair worm life cycle. After the egg of the horsehair worm hatches, an aquatic insect, such as a mayfly nymph, eats the preparasitic larva. Inside the mayfly, the larva encysts but doesn?t begin to develop until a host such as a mantid that the horsehair worm can parasitize eats the mayfly. Once in the mantid, the horsehair worm grows to an adult and emerges when the mantid seeks water. Many variations of this cycle occur.
Horsehair worms belong to the phylum Nematomorpha, from the Greek word meaning thread-shaped, class Gordioida. They are also called Gordian worms, because they will often twist into a loose ball-shaped knot resembling the baffling one Gordius created in the Greek myth and that is referred to as the Gordian knot.
Horsehair worms occur in knotted masses or as single worms in water sources such as ponds, rain puddles, swimming pools, animal drinking troughs, and even domestic water supplies. Adult worms measure 1/25 inch in diameter and may reach 1 foot or more in length. An old and still common misconception is that these long, thin, brown to blackish worms develop from horsehairs that fall into water. Because horsehair worms are parasites of invertebrates, especially certain insects, they are commonly encountered in agricultural areas, particularly those having water-impoundment and irrigation facilities.
There are four stages in the life of a horsehair worm: the egg, the preparasitic larva that hatches from the egg, the parasitic larva that develops within an invertebrate (its host), and the free-living aquatic adult. The worms spend the winter in water. After mating in spring, the female worm deposits a string of eggs 12 to 24 inches long in the water. About three weeks to one month later, minute immature larvae hatch. These larvae must parasitize an invertebrate host to develop. Suitable hosts for different species of horsehair worms include larger predaceous arthropods (often mantids, water beetles, carabid beetles, or dragonflies) or omnivores (such as crickets and other closely related insects, or millipedes).
There are several ways that horsehair worms parasitize hosts and complete their development. Although some of these life cycles have been studied, others aren’t well understood. Sometimes the host directly ingests the larvae, which immediately move into their parasitic stage and develop within that host.
For other horsehair worm species, the larvae of water-inhabiting insects (mayflies, mosquitoes, and chironomids) or tadpoles ingest the preparasitic larvae. When horsehair larvae are ingested by these organisms, they encyst (enclose themselves in a cystlike structure) in the host’s body cavity and remain encysted as this initial host develops into an adult. If an insect such as a mantid, cricket, or carabid beetle consumes an adult with an encysted worm, the worm emerges from the cyst and completes its development in the second host.
Finally, some preparasitic horsehair worm larvae encyst on leaves or other debris when a water source dries up. If a suitable host, such as a millipede, eats this cyst when ingesting vegetation, the horsehair worm larvae can move into the parasitic stage.
About three months after the horsehair worm parasitizes a host, the host is impelled to seek out water. When the host enters the water, the mature worm emerges. Adult worms are free-living in water and don’t feed, but they can live many months. They overwinter in water or mud, and the cycle repeats itself the following spring.
Horsehair worms parasitize only invertebrates such as insects. To complete their life cycle, the worms must infect large invertebrates that are relatively long lived. Generally, horsehair worms aren’t considered an effective biological control agent, because they parasitize only a small percentage of a host population.
Horsehair worms are harmless to vertebrates, because they can’t parasitize people, livestock, pets, or birds. They also don’t infect plants. If humans ingest the worms, they may encounter some mild discomfort of the intestinal tract, but infection never occurs.
Control of horsehair worms in natural water sources is impractical. Furthermore, the worms can be beneficial, because they will parasitize a few pest insect species, although their effect on natural invertebrate populations is minimal.
If the worms are found in livestock water troughs, the water can be kept clean with routine flushing. Use a fine mesh filter if pumping water from a surface supply such as a canal or pond. If the worms occur in swimming pools, they can be removed by hand or with a net.
Domestic water supply systems should be filtered, chemically treated, and inspected for necessary repairs, especially when the homeowner discovers horsehair worms in wash water, bathtubs, or sinks. Moreover, it isn’t unusual to find horsehair worms in the home in such places as shower stalls or toilets where crickets may die and worms emerge into the water. Prevent nuisance insects such as crickets, which are known hosts, from entering the home by caulking or sealing entryways.
Loomis, E. C., and L. L. Dunning. 1981. Horsehair Worms. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Leaflet 21238.
Pest Notes: Horsehair Worms
UC ANR Publication 7471
Author: H. K. Kaya, Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis.
Editor: M. Fayard
Technical Editor: M. L. Flint
Produced by University of California Statewide IPM Program
PDF: To display a PDF document, you may need to use a PDF reader.
Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
All contents copyright © 2019 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
For noncommercial purposes only, any Web site may link directly to this page. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance.
Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California