How to Get Rid of Tapeworms in Dogs - PetHelpful - By fellow animal lovers and experts
Updated date:

How to Get Rid of Tapeworms in Dogs

Susan is a published poet and short story writer. Her expertise is in cooking and healthy living. She hosts a canine recipe blog.

Tapeworms are a serious problem for dogs and people alike. It's important for pet owners to keep a look out for tapeworms. But, what should you look for. This article will explore everything you need to know about the topic.

What You Should Know About Tapeworms

  • What is a tapeworm?
  • How do you get rid of them in dogs?
  • What does a tapeworm look like?
  • What are the symptoms of tapeworms in dogs?
  • How do I identify them?
  • What to do if you think your dog has them.
  • How to prevent them from returning.
  • What over-the-counter medications help.

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
  • Vomiting
  • In some cases, the dog may be experiencing stomach pain
  • Not as active as they usually are

Visual Identification

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.

Flea Control

  • 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

Over-the-Counter Medications

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.

© 2012 Susan Zutautas

Comments

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 27, 2012:

tillsontitan, When I was growing up we had an Irish Setter that came to us with tapeworms. After a trip to the vet's and a prescription, the tapeworms were gone.

Mary Craig from New York on May 27, 2012:

Another good hub on dogs. Though not as common as it used to be tapeworm can still be a problem in dogs. Your explanation should help people who haven't encountered this horrible little worm yet. Voted up and useful.

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on May 26, 2012:

Great research and advice. I had a problem years ago with tapeworms in newborn cats. But that is common and remedied pretty quickly. I'm sure many will find this information very helpful!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 05, 2012:

Jimmy, Thanks. It is funny to see a dog do this, until you realize why they're doing it :)

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 05, 2012:

Sue, Thank you.

Deborah, Yes tapeworms are UGH :) Thanks :)

Jimmy the jock from Scotland on May 05, 2012:

Great Information Susan Thanks for sharing, I used to laugh when I saw my dog dragging his butt along the floor until i was told how serious it was.....jimmy

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on May 05, 2012:

this is great information and useful.. I hate tapeworms.. UGH!! thanks for keeping us updated

Debbie

Sueswan on May 04, 2012:

Hi Susan,

Great information on tapeworms. Thanks for sharing.

Voted up and awesome.

Take care :)

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 04, 2012:

Natasha, It is kind of gross. Thanks for reading and for your comments.

Natasha from Hawaii on May 04, 2012:

I have dogs, but I had no idea that fleas are a factor in a dog getting tapeworms and that each worm segment has eggs! That is kind of horrifying to contemplate. Thanks for the great information.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 04, 2012:

Thank you Tina.

Alicia, Thanks.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 03, 2012:

Thank you for sharing the useful information about a very important topic for pet owners, Susan.

Christina Lornemark from Sweden on May 03, 2012:

Very informative article and it is good to be prepared! Since I have had both cats and dogs at the same time I had to treat them all for tapeworm. It is a good thing that there is a cure that is pretty easy to get and give! Excellent article Susan,

Tina

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 03, 2012:

Thanks Frank, I'm glad you found it useful.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 03, 2012:

sofs, Thank you.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 03, 2012:

Thanks Cow Flipper.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 03, 2012:

mistyhorizon, Thank you so much for your input. I've never heard of Drontal but I'll be sure to look into this.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 03, 2012:

Rebecca, Heart worms is a terrible thing for any dog to get. So glad that yours is okay now.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 03, 2012:

Pam, Mine have never had tapeworms either but it is good to know about them.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 03, 2012:

Lela, Thanks for the suggestion. I may do that.

It is my understanding that heartworm medication is for heartworm only.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on May 03, 2012:

thanks Susan for this helpful and useful article/info session on Tape-worms

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 03, 2012:

Cyndi, My vet always asks me to bring in a stool sample for my dogs yearly visits, and in the five years we've had them everything has checked out for the good. Thank you and glad you found this useful.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 03, 2012:

Susan, Thanks and I'm glad that you found it informative.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 03, 2012:

RH, I've been really lucky with my 2 dogs as far as any type of worms go. I do take a stool sample to the vet for their yearly checkups to make sure.

Thanks.

Sophie on May 03, 2012:

Informative hub. I have had dogs all my life and did not know the signs of tapeworms infestations in dogs..but then mine go to the vet regularly.. or he comes by :) Thanks for sharing. Have a great day.

Sean Jankowski from Southern Oregon on May 03, 2012:

Wow, good stuff here. I can say for sure that this hub is evergreen if I've ever seen an evergreen topic. Tapeworms or any parasite for that matter is no joke. Thanks Justasksusan. :)

Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 02, 2012:

PS. I simply buy Drontal Tablets and give them to my cats every few months. No issues, and no waiting to see signs of worms. I don't even have to go to a vet for these, (although this is what they usually sell you when you do). The Drontal tablets can be bought from Amazon! Don't wait for the signs of worms or a more serious problem that is a side effect, make worming part of your pet care routine.

Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 02, 2012:

Great article Susan, and can I add that many people do not realise that fleas carry tapeworms, so before dosing your pet with worm tablets or other worming methods, de-flea them 24 hours beforehand. To do it the other way round is wrong because fleas will be killed for a month with a proper flea treatment, but only live worms are killed by a wormer, so if you worm first, the pet can immediately be reinfected by the fleas, but if you de-flea first then worm, there are no fleas to re-infect the pet.

All dogs and cats should be wormed at least three monthly, as by waiting for the signs as some believe, your pet could already be 'doomed' depending on what worms he or she had picked up (e.g. heartworm, lungworm etc).

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 02, 2012:

Thanks for this Hub on tapeworms to help us become aware of the health problems of our canine pals! We have more of a problem here with heart worms transmitted by mosquitoes. One of my dogs tested positive for them a few years ago. She is young and got treatment so she is OK now!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 02, 2012:

I never had a dog that got tape worms but I didn't know much about them either. This is good information for pet owners.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on May 02, 2012:

Short hub, but how could you possibly make it longer? It's a subject very few people want to talk about or read about. Maybe add something about parisitology in general?

Heartworm medication is supposed to kill tape worms and hook worms, right?

Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on May 02, 2012:

Thank you for this useful, if awful (lol), information. Thank goodness my dog doesn't have any of these symptoms, but if he ever does, I will know what it is. Voted up!

Susan Holland from Southwest Missouri on May 02, 2012:

Great information for pet owners. We have had to deal with tapeworms with our cats. Not a good thing at all. Thanks for sharing information about what to look for in dogs. Votes and shares! :-)

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on May 02, 2012:

I have heard of this - and first of all - I am so glad I've just had my dogs to the vet:) lol. NO tapeworms! It isn't a pretty subject but with 3 dogs I am really so glad I know what to look for. I would want to go to the vet as soon as possible. I'm really a bit relieved because I always worried before - like how would I know?? Lol.

Great job explaining everything I don't even have any questions!