Tapeworms are one of the most commonly seen intestinal parasites seen in both dogs and cats. Tapeworms are shed in a pet’s stool in segments and these segments are quite easily seen in the feces of an infected dog or cat or around the anal region of the infected pet.
Many pet owners become quite upset when they see these worms passing from their dog or cat. It is usually quite disconcerting, particularly if the parasite is fresh and is still moving and crawling across the surface of the feces or around the anal region.
Contents at a Glance
- How do Dogs Get Tapeworms
- What do Tapeworms Look Like: Tapeworms in Dog Poop
- Tapeworm Symptoms in Dogs and Cats
- Tapeworm Treatment for Dogs: Over the Counter Treatment for Tapeworms in Dogs
- How to Prevent Tapeworms in Dogs
- Can People Get Tapeworms from Dogs and Cats?
How do Dogs and Cats Get Tapeworms?
Dogs and cats can become infected with tapeworms in three different ways:
- by ingesting fleas infected with tapeworms
- by ingesting raw or undercooked meat infected with tapeworms
- by killing and ingesting smaller prey animals, such as rats, mice or other rodents
The most common means of transmission is through ingestion of a flea. When animals groom themselves, fleas can be ingested quite easily, resulting in infection with tapeworms.
What do Tapeworms Look Like and How can a Pet Owner Recognize Them
Tapeworms are shed through the feces and can often be seen on the surface of the fecal movement or in the hair around the anal region and under the pet’s tail.
When dried, tapeworms look like small grains of rice. When fresh, tapeworms will be 1/4-1/2″ in length, white to pale yellow in color and can sometimes be seen expanding and contracting their bodies.
While tapeworm eggs can sometimes be found on a fecal analysis run by your veterinarian, the most common way of diagnosing tapeworms is by seeing the tapeworm segments in the feces or on the pet.
What Kinds of Symptoms do Tapeworms Cause in Dogs and Cats
Tapeworms in dogs and cats are usually fairly innocuous and often the infection is asymptomatic (showing no signs of illness) except for the shedding of the worms.
Occasionally, tapeworms may cause a dog or cat to scoot across the floor rubbing his anus. However, anal gland issues are also a frequent cause of this and should also be ruled out if this symptom is occurring.
What is the Treatment for Tapeworms in Dogs and Cats
A medication known as praziquantel is the most common treatment for tapeworms in dogs and cats. Praziquantel can be administered in a pill form or as an injection. Consult your veterinarian to discuss the best option for your pet.
Can Tapeworms be Prevented in Dogs and Cats?
Tapeworms can be prevented by:
- using regular flea prevention measures for your dog or cat
- not allowing your dog or cat to ingest raw or undercooked meat
- not allowing your dog or cat to hunt
Can People Get Tapeworms from Dogs and Cats?
People cannot “catch” tapeworms directly from their dogs or cats. However, people can be infected with tapeworms by ingesting raw or uncooked meats.