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Friday, 23 October 2020 17:11

Tapeworm Infection in Dogs Featured

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The Flea Tapeworms are flat, segmented intestinal parasites of the cat and dog. Tapeworms belong to the cestode family of intestinal worms. There are several types of tapeworms, but the most common tapeworm species observed in dogs is Dipylidium caninum.

What are Tapeworms?

As the tapeworm matures, it breaks off in small segments. Depending on the type, the full size of a tapeworm can be very large but what you will normally see in the feces of your pet are the smaller broken off sections, which will look similar to grains of rice. Belonging to the cestode family of intestinal worms, the most common type found in canines throughout North America is the Dipylidium Caninum, otherwise known as the flea tapeworm.

Tapeworms are intestinal worms with a flattened shape. Very common in dogs, this parasite lives in the intestine of it’s host. Tapeworms are made of many small segments and attach themselves to the intestinal wall with hook-like mouthparts. While a tapeworm infection is not seriously harmful, your dog can become unwell, and puppies who become infected can suffer from anemia, slow growth, and sometimes intestinal blockage.

Symptoms of Tapeworms in Dogs

Dogs can very possibly carry the tapeworm and not show obvious symptoms. The severity of symptoms can depend upon the age of your dog, his present state of health, and the intensity of the infection. You should bring your furry family member to the veterinary clinic if you see any of the following signs.

  • You may see your dog scooting his hind end along the floor due to the itch
  • You might see your pet constantly licking or biting the anal area
  • An entire tapeworm may pass in the feces and be obviously seen
  • Dried yellowish segments of the tapeworm may be noticed in the feces or around the tail; live segments may be seen moving around in the same area
  • Your pet may vomit up an entire tapeworm
  • Your dog may experience bouts of gas
  • Your pet could show signs of malaise and irritability
  • The fur on your pet could become dull
  • Your dog could be restless

If there is a heavy infestation, or multiple types of worms are present, your dog can become very ill, suffering from diarrhea, weight loss, and abdominal pain.


There are several types of tapeworm that can affect dogs.

  • Dipylidium caninum
    • This is the most common tapeworm in dogs
    • Dogs become infected when grooming
    • The tapeworm eggs within the broken segments passed in the feces are eaten by a flea, and then flea is then ingested by the dog
  • Taenia hydatigena/Taenia multiceps
    • These appear in the intestines of the canine, fox, and coyote
    • The larval stage attaches to the brain, organs or spinal cord of pigs, sheep, and goats
    • If the dog eats infected livestock, he becomes infected
    • Can cause serious problems to humans, who may catch it from unwashed hands that have touched feces or from the consuming of unwashed vegetables that may have been contaminated by dog feces
  • Taenia Pisiformis/Taenia serialis
    • Dogs receive the tapeworm when they hunt and eat infected rabbits and rodents
  • Echinococcus
    • Dogs will get the tapeworm infection if they consume wildlife or livestock scraps like elk, sheep, or cattle
  • Diphyllobothrium
    • This type of tapeworm is contracted from consuming wildlife scraps and from eating undercooked or raw fish

Causes of Tapeworms in Dogs

Tapeworms rely on an intermediate host in order to survive.

  • The larval stage develops in the flea, rabbit or mouse for example, which serve as the intermediate host
  • Canines cannot be infected by eating fertilized eggs; the eggs have to pass through the host and then the dog eats the host
  • Tapeworm eggs are released into the environment and then consumed
  • Dogs may consume fleas through the grooming process, or by biting at the anal area due to itching
  • The diet of the canine and the geographical location can influence the likelihood of tapeworm infestation
  • Rural, suburban and urban dogs may hunt rodents or be fed scraps containing the tapeworm
  • Eating undercooked or raw fish can cause a tapeworm infection

Diagnosis of Tapeworms in Dogs

You may witness your pet scooting his behind along the floor, appearing restless, or displaying other symptoms indicative of a tapeworm infestation. If you see tapeworm segments, whether dried up or moving in the feces or around the anus, bring the sample to the veterinarian. A diagnosis of tapeworm is usually reached by visual sighting by you, and an alerting of the veterinarian.

Because whole tapeworms and tapeworm segments are only passed in the stool intermittently, the stool sample that you bring could show a negative result after examination. This by no means clears the suspicion.

Treatment of Tapeworms in Dogs

Fortunately, the treatment for tapeworm is simple and very effective. Your veterinarian will prescribe a dewormer, also called a parasiticide, which may come in the form of oral medication or injection.

The product will work quickly, and the tolerance in canines is very positive. The treatment causes the tapeworm to dissolve in the intestine of your canine companion, so you will not see a passing of tapeworm in the stool after administration.

It should be noted that your dog has been treated, but not cured of re-infection. Diligence in the area of regular deworming treatments is a must.

Recovery of Tapeworms in Dogs

There are several steps to take that will prevent your furry family member from becoming infected with tapeworm again.

The control of fleas and lice is the best way to prevent infection from the most common type of tapeworm known to canines, the dipylidium caninum. If you have not yet rid your pet, and the environment in which he lives of fleas, then re-infection from tapeworms can occur within weeks. Speak to your veterinarian about how to rid your home from fleas.

Do not allow your pet to hunt and consume wild animals. Do not feed them contaminated scraps, raw meat (unless is has been frozen for at least 10 days previously), or raw and undercooked fish.

Clean up any feces that may be in your pet’s outdoor environment, and make a habit of keeping your yard clean.

Incorrect use of deworming products is the most common reason for failure to rid your dog of tapeworm. Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions to the letter. Do not hesitate to ask for advice from your veterinary team at any time during the deworming process.

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Read 3080 times Last modified on Friday, 23 October 2020 17:41
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