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Tapeworm Infestations in Canines
Tapeworms are parasites in many animals, including dogs. The
scientific name of the most common tapeworm that infests
canines, and felines is Dipylidium caninum. Another, though
rarer, tapeworm that occurs in dogs is called Echinococcus.
Dogs and other canines get this tapeworm when they eat a
rodent that contains the parasite.
Serious health problems caused by tapeworms in dogs does not
happen normally, but they can be dangerous for
puppies and for adult
dogs that have been weakened by other health issues, if the
infestation is allowed to continue.
Dogs commonly get tapeworms via an "intermediate host,"
namely fleas. When the tapeworm eggs are spread into the
environment they are eaten by flea larvae. By the time the
flea larva has grown into an adult flea the tapeworm
cysticercoids have also developed inside the flea, so that
when the dog licks itself, bites at a flea, or eats a flea-
infested rodent, it swallows the flea with the tapeworms
The worm then moves into the dog's intestines and attaches
itself to the intestinal walls with its mouth-hooks. There
it feeds and grows up to eight inches (twenty centimeters)
To breed, mature tapeworms drop small segments from their
tail ends and the segments are then shed off into the dog's
intestines and passed out with the dog's waste matter.
If a dog is infested with tapeworms you may see small white
things in the waste or on the dog's hair on the rear. They look
like small grains of rice and sometimes you can see them
move. As the segment dries outside the dog's body it turns
to a golden color and the eggs are released to be ingested
by more fleas. Tapeworm segments are also sometimes seen in
the dog's bedding.
Occasionally an adult tapeworm may detach from the
intestinal wall and be vomited up or excreted.
Tapeworms are flat rather than round like other worms that
infest dogs. An adult tapeworm looks something like a
segmented cooked noodle.
Since tapeworms can become a problem in your dog and also
can be spread to other animals and even humans in the
environment, it is important that you treat the tapeworms
immediately if you see symptoms of a tapeworm infestation in
How to keep your Dog & Cat Healthy