Tapeworms

There are 3 common types of tapeworms that infect dogs and cats; Dipylidium caninum, Taenia, and Echinococcus. The parasite lives in the small intestines and typically does not cause symptoms to infected pets. Often, owners will find small rice- like segments of the tapeworm passed in the feces. Pets most commonly become infected with tapeworms by eating a flea—even if you have never seen a flea on your pet this is still possible! The flea carries the larval form of the tapeworm, and it matures once it is eaten by the pet. The other way tapeworm infection can be transmitted is by ingestion of wildlife that is carrying the larval form of the tapeworm (e.g. rabbits and rodents). The treatment involves killing the adult tapeworm with medication from a veterinarian, and then preventing the pet from coming in contact with the “intermediate host” (the fleas or wildlife). Again, most commonly pets are infected because they have missed a month of flea prevention or are not using the proper type flea prevention. If you think your pet has tapeworms, please discuss the treatment and prevention with one of our veterinarians. It is possible, for humans to become infected with tapeworms if they ingest a flea, but more often humans are infected by eating raw fish or undercooked meat.