How to Get Rid of Tapeworms in Dogs
What Is a Tapeworm?
The most common tapeworm, also known as Dipylidium caninum, is a small parasite that is carried by fleas and lice that have ingested a tapeworm egg. If the dog ingests the flea or louse by swallowing or bitting it, and if it is infected with a tapeworm egg, it will travel down into the dog's small intestine.
Tapeworms are very common in adult dogs and puppies but can be treated easily by your veterinarian.
How Do You Get Rid of Them in Dogs?
To get rid of tapeworms, the head of the tapeworm must be destroyed, otherwise it will keep growing. In order to do this, you must have a prescription medication from a veterinarian. An over-the-counter dewormer will not necessarily work for all tapeworms. It is always best to check with your animal-care provider first.
For the dog to be totally rid of the tapeworms and all eggs, it normally takes 10-14 days.
What Does a Tapeworm Look Like?
Tapeworms are whitish in color and can grow anywhere between 4 inches to 28 inches in length. They are flat and segmented. Each segment contains eggs.
Symptoms of Tapeworms in Dogs
- The dog may be experiencing anal itching
- Excessive licking or scratching in the rectal area
- A dog may drag its behind along the ground or on the carpet
- Change in a dog's eating habits
- In some cases, the dog may be experiencing stomach pain
- Not as active as they usually are
The eggs from the tapeworms can be found in the dogs's stool. They will be about one-quarter of an inch long and they move. These eggs can or may be found in the dog's fur near the anus. If the eggs are dead and dried out, they will look very similar to a piece of rice. Eggs or pieces of the tapeworm may also be found in the dog's bedding or on carpets.
What to Do If You Think Your Dog Has Them
To determine what type of worm your dog may have, you need to take a sample of the dog's stool to the veterinarian to have it analyzed under a microscope. Never use an over the counter de-wormer without first talking to your vet.
If your dog does, in fact, have tapeworms, it is very important to get them treated as soon as possible. Tapeworms can and will grow quite quickly. If left untreated, they can cause intestinal infection, diarrhea, weight loss and or blood in the stool.
The vet will either give your dog an injection or a medication in pill form to treat the tapeworms.
Preventing Them From Returning
There is no way to make sure that tapeworms never return but there are some precautions that you can take.
- Make sure that your animal and house is free of fleas.
- In your yard and outside areas, there are various ways to keep the flea population to a minimum. You can purchase products from garden centers or Home Depot, but be sure to read the packaging to make sure that it is safe for your pets.
- Planting mint plants may deter fleas.
- Fecal matter in your yard should always be picked up.
The Life Cycle of a Tapeworm
Once your dog has had tapeworms and you know what you're dealing with as far as what they look like and feel comfortable treating them yourself, there are over-the-counter medications that are available. Be certain that the medication you choose is for tapeworms. Always consult with your veterinarian before administering a medication to your dog.
D-Worm, Droncit and WormXPlus are three of the products you can purchase without a medical prescription. Make sure that your dog and its living quarters are free of all fleas to stop the tapeworms from reoccurring.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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© 2012 Susan Zutautas