Tapeworms are fairly common parasites that infect dogs. In this post, our Jacksonville vets explain the signs your dog has tapeworms and how they can be treated and prevented.
Dog Tapeworm Infections
Tapeworms are flat, segmented parasites that infect dogs. They use hook-like mouths to attach themselves to the intestines of a canine host. They can grow to be as large as 11-inches, and as they mature, shed segments that exit the host through their feces.
Detecting Stool Tapeworms in Dogs
Sometimes tapeworms can be seen moving on anal hairs or through the feces of an infected animal.
How Dogs Get Tapeworms
Eating fertilized tapeworm eggs is not a concern, not like other parasites this doesn't pose a risk of infecting the dogs that consume them. Instead, tapeworms can't infect a dog until they have already passed through the system of a flea. When a dog eats a flea that is bothering them, they run the risk of unknowingly swallowing tapeworm eggs the flea has eaten. As the flea is digested, the tapeworm inside hatches and can then wreak havoc on your dog's insides.
Are Tapeworms Dangerous For Dogs?
While usually uncomfortable, dogs aren't going to have a health crisis if they get infected with tapeworms. For puppies, it can be more dangerous, if their growing intestines become overwhelmed by a large number of tapeworms.
Diagnosing Dogs With Tapeworms
One sign of tapeworms you can find at home is if your dog starts scooting. They will drag their bums on the ground in an effort to relieve the irritation caused by the parasite. This is not a sure thing, however, there are many possible explanations for scooting in dogs.
Your veterinarian can take a more comprehensive approach, by observing the white or golden worms present in your dog's feces. Passing worm segments happens periodically, not consistently, and so an annual fecal exam is likely to miss them. As a result, dog owners should contact their vet if they detect anything strange in their dog's stool, and save the sample for them to make a professional diagnosis.
Treating Tapeworm In Dogs
Dogs that are infected with tapeworms have a relatively easy recovery ahead of them. Modern anti-parasite medications can quickly and safely kill the parasite inside your dog and disintegrate the corpses, allowing them to pass through their anus. As they've been disintegrated, they shouldn't be detectable any longer and your dog should experience no undue discomfort passing them.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.