Tackling Tapeworms in Dogs and CatsLast updated: August 02, 2016
Tapeworms are flat intestinal worms made up of multiple small segments, which are about three to five mm long. Tapeworms generally live and attach themselves on the wall of the small intestine by using their hook-like mouths. Once attached, the tapeworm begins to grow a long tail of segments, each having its own reproductive system. When a segment reaches maturity, it drops off with its eggs and passes through the feces.
There are several common tapeworms that infect dogs and cats, including Dipylidium caninum, Taenia species, Echniococcus granulosus and E. multiocularis, Spirometra mansonoides, and Diphyllobothrium latum. The most common tapeworms found in dogs and cats are Dipylidium caninum and the Taenia species.
TransmissionUnlike with other worms, dogs and cats cannot become infected with tapeworms simply by eating worm eggs. Instead, tapeworms first pass through an intermediate host, such as a flea, rabbit, bird, or rodent. For example, the Dipylidium caninum tapeworm egg starts out in the environment where it is swallowed by immature flea larvae. Once inside the flea, the egg develops and can be transmitted when a dog ingests a flea during grooming or in response to a flea bite. When a dog passes the worm segments in the feces, the process can start all over.
SymptomsThe most common symptom of tapeworms is the appearance of grain-like rice around an animal's anus or in the feces. Dogs may constantly lick their anus or scoot their butt along the ground. In severe cases, animals may suffer from vomiting, weight loss, a dull coat, lack of appetite, fatigue, or diarrhea. Although tapeworms don't usually cause serious health problems, heavier infestations can be serious, resulting in anemia and intestinal blockages.
DiagnosisUnlike hookworms and whipworms which are too small to see in the stool, tapeworms are large enough to be seen in the feces or around the anus. Diagnosis is made by observing tapeworm segments found in the feces.
Treatment of TapewormsTapeworms are usually treated with a dewormer containing Praziquantel or Fenbendazole. Panacur C is a highly effective wormer for dogs, or you can choose to use Worm X Plus or D-Worm Combo. For cats, we suggest using Drontal for Cats or Profender for Cats.
For the effective removal of tapeworms, it is crucial to control fleas as well. It is important to control the fleas on your pet and in the environment for complete flea and tapeworm control.
PreventionKeeping your animals on a regular worming schedule with a dewormer will help control and prevent parasites. Another factor in successfully preventing tapeworms is to control the fleas on your pet and in your environment. It's also a good idea to keep your pet from coming into contact with intermediate hosts such as mice, rats, squirrels, and rabbits.
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The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.