Wondering about tapeworm in dogs? It’s no laughing matter. While worms may look fun and wiggly, they can live in your dog! And really, who wants worms living inside of them? My friend Maury, a Scottish Terrier, recently found out he had a tapeworm. One day, after noticing Maury was acting a bit under the weather, his mom took him for a walk. She was paying close attention to his poop, and when she picked it up, she thought she saw something that looked a lot like spaghetti wiggle in the poop. It couldn’t be a worm, could it? Maury is a very healthy, active dog, who has a great diet, so his mom thought for sure there was no way that spaghetti-looking string could be a worm. She just couldn’t get over the fact that the thing looked as if it were slowly moving. Maury’s mom brought him to the veterinarian and took the stool sample with her. Turns out it was tapeworm in dogs!
Do you now what tapeworms are? Tapeworms are long, flat worms that attach themselves to your dog’s intestinal tract, specifically the small intestine. Tapeworms can be anywhere from a half of an inch to many feet long. Using hooks and suckers, the head of the worm will attach itself to the wall of your dog’s intestine. While it’s true that the body can look like spaghetti, it’s actually made up of segments that each contain eggs. Dried segments that may be found in old feces may even look like rice. Tapeworms may drain some of your dog’s nutrition, but not as much as other worms can affect your dog’s health.
How do dogs get tapeworm?
The most common type of tapeworm in dogs is Dipylidium caninum. This type of tapeworm in dogs uses fleas as the intermediate host. If your dog bites or swallows a pregnant or infected flea, he can become infected with the parasite. Other types of tapeworm, called Taenia or Echinococcus, use small rodents or larger animals as intermedia hosts. Your dog would need to have eaten an infected animal such as a rat, rabbit, goat, or deer. These aren’t as common as Dipylidium caninum, and can be contained by monitoring your dog’s meat intake (especially raw meat) and ensuring they aren’t eating wild animals or rodents.
How will I know if my dog has tapeworms?
It’s likely your dog will not exhibit any symptoms if he has a tapeworm. You’ll most likely only find it in his feces or possibly even see worms near your dog’s rear end. Yes, you read that correctly. You may even notice worms coming out of your dog’s bum! Shudder. If you are concerned about tapeworm, be sure to carefully monitor all of your dog’s poop! If you notice worm segments or larger strings, it would be wise to bring that stool with you to the veterinarian for proper diagnosis.
How can I prevent tapeworm in dogs?
If your dog has tapeworm, be sure to get medical treatment from his veterinarian. This may take one dose or medicine, like it was for my friend Maury, or additional treatments. To prevent tapeworm again, try to keep your dog away from infected animals or fleas. Using monthly flea-treatment medicine year round can help the spread of fleas on your animal.
Has your dog ever experienced tapeworm? How did you find out about it, and what was the treatment like?
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