Issue Description Tapeworms that infect canines belong to the
Cestoda class of parasitic platyhelminthic worms which almost
exclusively inhabit the intestinal tracts of vertebrate animals. The
worms do attach themselves to the inner walls of the intestine, but do
not suck blood in the same volume as do hookworms. As the worms mature
they shed mobile segments that are then passed in the feces and may
often be seen around the anus, on the dog's coat, or in bedding.
Though it is not among the most harmful of parasites, it is still
important to minimize tapeworm infections in your companion animals,
as they may be passed to other mammals and occasionally humans.
Symptoms and Diagnosis Because tapeworm infections often cause minimal
problems, clinical symptoms may be slight or nonexistent. The most
common cause for suspicion of tapeworm infection is the sighting of
small segments on the dog's coat, around the anus, in his bedding, or
on carpet frequented by the dog. These segments resemble grains of
rice when new but change color slightly and become golden as they dry.
Segments may cause irritation and cause your dog to lick the anus
excessively or scoot across the floor in an effort to alleviate the
irritation. Occasionally a tapeworm will release its attachment to the
intestinal wall and move into the stomach, causing digestive upset and
resulting in an episode of vomiting. The 5 to 8 inch long worm may
sometimes be observed in vomit.
Though clinical symptoms
are not common, especially severe tapeworm infestations may cause
debilitation and weight loss if left untreated.
suspicion has been established, laboratory diagnosis is quite simple.
Your veterinarian will examine a stool sample under the microscope in
search of characteristic eggs. If eggs are detected, treatment can
Treatment There are a variety of treatments for canine
tapeworms. Drugs can either be injected or given orally that will
cause the worms to dissolve. Fleas play a role in the infection of
canine tapeworms. Therefore, controlling fleas is an important part of
treatment. There are a number of topical treatments, collars, and
powders that you can use for effective flea control.
Prevention Flea control (FrontLine or BioSpot, for
example) is the best way to prevent this type of tapeworm infestation.
Treating animals as well as the home, yard, kennel and bedding is
recommended. Regularly picking up dog feces may help as well. Children
should not be allowed to play on or near contaminated areas, and dogs
who may be infected should be kept away from childrens' play areas.