Did you know that there are five types of worms that can seriously affect your animals? One of the most common health problems for dogs is worms. There are five types of worms that generally affect dogs, and in this is series, we will discuss each type of worm:

This is the last blog in the series of worms, and we will discuss Tapeworms.

What are Tapeworms?

Tapeworms are a parasitic long, flatworm that attach themselves to your dog’s intestines and some species can infect humans. In areas where sanitation facilities are lacking and close contact with animals it is more common to get infected.

Infection

In humans, tapeworm infections occur as a result of eating raw or undercooked fish, beef, or pork, from an animal that was infected. A secondary cause of infection is improper handwashing after coming into contact with tapeworms or tapeworm eggs. Cysticercosis is a serious infection if you ingest pork tapeworm eggs

Anatomy

A tapeworm consists of multiple body parts. They are also called segments. Each segment has its own reproductive organs. When diagnosing a tapeworm infection, a vet usually finds a segment which appears as a small white worm that may look like seeds or grains of rice. The worms will appear in your dog’s feces, on the rear end of your dog, or where your dog lives and sleeps.

Hosts

Tapeworms have several different kinds or species that can infect your dog. They each have stage(s) in a different in-between or intermediate host, which the dog eats to become infected. Here are the tapeworms and its intermediate host:

  • Dipylidium caninum - fleas
  • Taenia and Echinococcus- small rodents (mice, rats, squirrels), rabbits, or large animals (such as deer or sheep)

Symptoms

Most tapeworms do not produce obvious symptoms in dogs, other than worm segments on your dog's rear end or feces. Call your veterinarian for an appointment to get an accurate diagnosis and safe, effective treatment options.

How do I prevent my dog from getting tapeworms?

To prevent your dog from getting tapeworms, keep your dog from coming in contact with fleas, small rodents, rabbits, or large animals. These are intermediate hosts which contain the tapeworm larvae. Flea control is an excellent prevention measure because fleas are an intermediate host for the most common kind of tapeworm. Flea control is consistent, safe, and effective flea control.

Can tapeworms harm humans?

A specific type of tapeworm found in cats or dogs can cause serious disease in humans. They are the Echinococcus tapeworm species which are very uncommon in the United States and are readily treated by prescriptions available from your veterinarian. There are rare reports of Dipylidium (a common tapeworm in pets) infections in children, but these infections are not associated with significant disease.

Other kinds of worms that dogs can get include: Heartworms, Hookworms, Roundworms, and Whipworms.

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.