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Tapeworms are flat worms that vary from a few inches to a few feet in length. They are segmented worms and each segment contains eggs. The head of the tapeworm will latch onto the wall of the small intestine and feed. It will detach a body segment containing eggs to be passed through with your dog’s feces. Often times, they resemble grains of rice attached to the anus or in the feces of your dog.
The most common type of tapeworms in dogs are known as the Dipylidium caninum. The most common cause of tapeworms in dogs is when your dog swallows a flea that has eaten tapeworm eggs. It is known that fleas eat tapeworm larvae. If your dog is infested with fleas and bites at the itching fur, he can very easily eat a few fleas that may carry tapeworm eggs. Once the flea is digested, the tapeworm eggs then hatch in the intestines and latch on to start feeding and reproducing. Fortunately, tapeworms in dogs are very easy to treat and do not usually cause serious illness.
Symptoms of Tapeworms in Dogs
Often times, you will not even realize that your dog has tapeworms. They do feed on the blood and nutrients in your dog, but no immediate symptoms or changes in your dog are usually present. Normally, symptoms will begin to show over a longer period of time, compared to some other types of worms in dogs.
The most common symptoms of tape worms in dogs are the following:
- Persistent anal itching. You will likely see your dog licking or dragging his anus on the carpet in your home to try and relieve the itching.Small, rice-looking particles in the feces or around the anus.
- Increased appetite
- Diarrhea. This is a good time to look for the possible tapeworm larvae.
- Poor fur and skin conditions. The fur will likely be dull with no shine, and the skin may be dry and flakey. This is because the tapeworm is sucking out all the beneficial nutrients in your dog.
- Weight loss
- Bloated stomach area. Sometimes there are many tapeworms in your dog’s intestines. This may show by a bloated belly area. This is often seen in new puppies.
The best way to determine if your dog has tapeworms is to observe how often he scoots on the carpet. Examine the anus for tapeworm larvae. Next time your dog eliminates, be sure to check his feces for the same small, white larvae. If you notice anything, it is important to take your dog to the vet immediately to seek proper treatment. Although tapeworms are not generally a very serious condition, they can lead to one if left untreated too long.
Treatment for Tapeworms in Dogs
When it comes to treatment for tapeworms in dogs, the most important thing to remember is that your must get rid of the head of the tapeworm. This is the part that is attached to the inside of the intestines and that feeds on the blood and nutrients of your dog. If the head of the tapeworm is not detached, it will continue to feed and grow, which means it can lay eggs over and over.
Fortunately, there are medications that rid your dog’s body of tapeworms fairly easily. Often times, it will only take one dosage of deworming medication to treat ringworms in dogs.
Veterinarian prescriptions for tape worms in dogs
Most treatments come in chewable, tablet or liquid form. The way most treatment options work is by causing the parasite to lose grip on the intestinal wall, and damaging the parasite’s skin, causing it to disintegrate and pass through naturally. The main ingredient in most deworming medications is called Praziquantel.
Side effects of medical treatment for tapeworms in dogs is usually very rare, but do include increased bowel movements, nausea and increased salivation. Always talk to your veterinarian before committing to a certain type of deworming medication, or if your dog’s condition changes or worsens.
You should always consult with your veterinarian before giving tapeworm treatments to puppies and pregnant dogs. It is important to note that other parasite treatments will not get rid of tapeworms in your dog.