Every dog owner has heard something about tapeworms. These are small parasites that live in the animal’s gut. There are different types of tapeworms, but the most common ones are caused by ingesting infected fleas. The fleas act as carriers of tapeworm larvae.
If the dog swallows the flea, an adult tapeworm can end up growing in the animal’s intestines. Tapeworms can remain in the intestines for a long time before you even notice symptoms. They do not usually cause serious problems, and they are easy to treat.
Tapeworms can grow to between four and eight inches long. They are flat and made of several segments. It is not easy to see the adult tapeworm, but you can see segments as they pass through the dog’s feces.
You can see the tiny egg-filled parts moving in the feces. You might also see tiny parts moving in your dog’s beddings or on the dog itself. When the segments die, they dry forming yellow, hard specks. These specks often stick onto the fur around the dog’s backside.
Symptoms of Tapeworm Infection
If you notice your dog dragging his or her bottom or trying to lick his or her backside, it may be due to tapeworms. The parasites tend to be irritating, and the dog will scoot in an attempt to get rid of them.
In some rare cases, the tapeworm segments get into the stomach, causing the dog to vomit. When this happens, you may be able to see the worm in the vomit. A heavy tapeworm infection can cause the dog to lose weight even while eating normally. This is because the tapeworm feeds on the important nutrients meant for the dog.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The vet will confirm a tapeworm diagnosis after detecting the segments on the dog or after examining the feces. Using a microscope to examine the feces, the vet should detect eggs or tapeworm segments.
There are several types of drugs available to treat tapeworm infection in dogs. The vet will prescribe the best medication for your dog. De-worming drugs are available as a shot or in tablet form. The drugs help dissolve the worms in the dog’s system.
There are simple steps that can help prevent tapeworms. Controlling fleas is the best way to prevent infection. You can keep fleas away from your dog and in your home. Your vet can recommend the best de-worming plan and flea prevention method.
Possible methods include flea collars, flea spray, powder, and oral medication. You can also get topical flea control treatments. It is important to keep your pet away from places and other dogs that may have fleas. Cleaning up after your dog will help prevent the spread of infections.
Tapeworms in Humans
It is important to realize that tapeworms pose a threat to humans. People can get tapeworms from animals. Children are particularly susceptible as they can easily swallow the tiny infected fleas. Make sure to keep safe by washing your hands after playing with your dog.
If you suspect that your dog may have tapeworms, talk to your vet. The parasites may not cause serious complications, but they are very annoying.
To learn more about tapeworms and your dog, visit Bergen County Veterinary Center at our office in Waldwick, New Jersey. You can also call 201-205-2500 to book an appointment today.