One of the four families of worms that our pets are exposed to is tapeworms.A tapeworm infection in an adult dog could cause weight loss, a poor coat condition, and possibly a pot belly, while some dogs with the infection show few signs of ill health.A tapeworm infection in puppies can be more serious as there is a risk of the worms knotting together in the intestine and forming a blockage.It’s important to get the problem treated effectively if the dog is an adult or puppy.
Step 1: Determine if your dog is at risk for tapeworm.
Some dogs are more at risk than others.The dog needs to be in contact with an “intermediate” host.Rats and mice are intermediate hosts.There is a good chance that your dog has fleas.If it grooms itself and swallows a flea it will break down the protective shell of the egg packet and release the eggs into the bowel, where they will grow into adult tapeworms.If the dog is a hunter or scavenger and eats mice or rats, he will ingest tapeworm larvae that have formed cysts within the vermin’s body tissue, and they can go on to become adult tapeworms.Because the egg packets need to pass through the intermediate host to reach the stage where they are infectious to dogs, a dog can’t get it from his own anus.
Step 2: Look for tapeworm eggs.
If you see the tapeworm eggs packet near the dog’s anus or on its bedding, it is most likely that your dog has tapeworms.Egg packets can be white, creamy, golden, or gray, and vary in size between a cucumber seed and a sesame seed.They are described as a small grain of rice or sesame seeds.If the eggs are new, you may see them wriggling.The eggs look like sesame seeds if they are older.The life cycle of the tapeworm means the adult worm within the dog’s gut releases egg packets intermittently.These can migrate down through the gut and out of the dog’s anus and be a source of infections for the intermediate hosts.
Step 3: If your dog drags its bottom along the ground, pay attention.
The migration irritates the lining of the rectum and anus, causing some dogs to scoot their bottoms along the ground.There are other reasons for scooting, such as full anal sacs or allergic skin conditions.
Step 4: If your dog is showing signs of tapeworm, take it to the vet.
A fecal sample under a microscope can be used to look for tapeworm eggs.The adult tapeworm does not shed proglottids all the time, so it is possible to get false negatives.
Step 5: Deworming medicine is needed for your dog.
There are specific deworming preparations that destroy tapeworms.The drug works by making the tapeworm’s outer shell leak out and cause it to die.Epsiprantel is a new drug that has the same activity as Praziquantel, but is not in widespread use.It’s your first choice dewormer because Praziquantel is effective against all tapeworm.Two of the 3 main tapeworm species will be destroyed by a different drug called dichlorophen.Unfortunately the species it doesn’t kill is Echinococcus, which can be a risk to human health and is therefore not a good choice.
Step 6: Not all deworming products contain praziquantel.
If they are covered, check the packaging.Look for wording on the pack that says the product is effective against tapeworms and check the active ingredients.It is not effective against tapeworm if a product only contains fenbendazole.Many deworming tablets are made up of two ingredients because it is not effective against roundworms and other common worms.Praziquantel and pyrantel can be found in Drontal, Milbemax, andPrazitel Plus.Many common spot-on parasites treatments do not work against tapeworm.
Step 7: The correct amount of medication is given to your dog.
The majority of tapeworm treatments are available in tablets.If you have to weigh your dog at a veterinary clinic, make sure to use the scale there.Carefully follow the instructions on the packaging to make sure the dog has the correct dose.The treatment has no lasting effect and does not protect the dog against repeat infections, so be aware of that.There is an injection form of the drug.If you have a large dog, it will need a relatively large volume of injection, which can be uncomfortable.
Step 8: Follow your doctor’s instructions for how long to give tapeworm medication.
How often you give your dog a tapeworm treatment is a topic of debate.If your dog is in a high risk group, such as a hunting dog, then monthly tapeworming is a good idea.If your dog is at low risk, such as an indoor dog that has regular flea treatments, then speak to your vet and follow their advice.
Step 9: It’s a good idea to prevent future tapeworm infections.
It is important to remove access to the intermediate hosts.A flea product is used to make sure your dog doesn’t harbor the intermediate host.The dog cannot eat the encysted larval forms if it can’t access vermin or carcasses.