Did you know these facts about tapeworms and your dog?

  • Dogs may not have symptoms from tapeworms other than worm segments on their rear end or in their feces
  • People rarely are affected by dog tapeworms
  • Flea control is an essential step in protection
  • Dogs can get heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms

 Symptoms

Some dogs will not show obvious symptoms while carrying tapeworm. Here are some of the signs that your dog may have tapeworm:

  • Scooting hind end along floor due to itching
  • Constantly licking or biting the anal area
  • Tapeworm may pass in the feces and be visibly seen
  • Dried yellowish segments of the tapeworm in the feces or around the tail
  • Live segments seen moving around in the same area
  • Vomit up an entire tapeworm
  • Bouts of gas
  • Malaise and irritability
  • Dull fur
  • Restless
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain

Appearance

Tapeworms are flat long worms that attach themselves to your dog’s intestines. A tapeworm consists of multiple parts, or segments, each with its reproductive organs.

Infections

If your dog has a tapeworm infection, you will see small white worms that resemble grains of rice. These are called segments and show up on your dog’s rear end or in their feces. They can also be visible where your dog sleeps.

There are several species of tapeworms. Each species has an in-between host which infects your dog.  Dogs get tapeworms by ingesting the immediate host containing larvae. One species is called Dipylidium caninum that uses fleas as its intermediate host. Two other species, Taenia and Echinococcus, use small rodents (mice, rats, squirrels), rabbits, or large animals (such as deer or sheep) as their intermediate hosts.

Diagnosis 

A fecal, or stool sample can be used to review for the presence of tapeworms. Most test results are conclusive.

Prevention

For prevention, it is vital to keep your dog from coming in contact with intermediate hosts that contain tapeworm larvae. For the most common kind of tapeworm, fleas are the intermediate host. That is why effective flea control is an essential prevention measure.

Your vet can give you a safe, effective monthly heartworm preventive that contains a drug specific for tapeworm infections.

Can humans be harmed by tapeworms?

Echinococcus species of tapeworm found in in dogs or cats may cause serious disease in humans. These tapeworms are uncommon in the United States and are readily treated by prescriptions available from your veterinarian.

If your dog has symptoms or you think your dog is infected with tapeworms, call your veterinarian for an appointment to get an accurate diagnosis and safe, effective treatment options.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.