What to Do When You Think Your Dog Has a Tapeworm
Of all of the parasites a dog can get, the tapeworm is one of the easiest to identify and treat. And, while it can cause your pet to experience some uncomfortable symptoms, a tapeworm generally doesn’t cause very serious problems as long as the issue is treated appropriately. As with any illness, the sooner you can get your dog treated, the better.
Tapeworms usually develop after a dog swallows a flea that’s infected with the parasite’s larvae. Once inside your dog, the larvae matures and it develops into the tapeworm that most people are familiar with. The tapeworm’s hook-like sucker mouth attaches to the walls of the dog’s gut, where it will continue to feed and grow.
Tapeworms get their name because they have flat, segmented bodies that make it resemble a length of tape. Each segment of the tapeworm’s body looks like a grain of rice and they can grow anywhere from 4 to 28 inches long.
Signs That Your Dog May Be Dealing With a Tapeworm
As the tapeworm grows, some of its segments will break off and they’ll be eliminated from the body via the dog’s feces. Often, you will see the white, rice-like pieces throughout your dog’s feces or in the hair around her bottom. If they die and dry out before or after being passed, the segments turn yellow and hard. If the tapeworm segments end up in your dog’s stomach, then she will throw up and you will wind up seeing a worm in her vomit.
Tapeworms can be irritating to a dog’s bottom, so one of the most common signs that a dog might have this parasite is a propensity for “scooting” her rear end along the floor. Other signs and symptoms include:
- Weight loss even when eating normally
- Distended abdomen
- Dull coat
- Visual evidence of tapeworms
If you notice one or more of the above signs, you should take your dog to the veterinarian for a complete physical examination. It will also help if you bring a stool sample along with you so testing can be performed to look for signs of the parasite.
Treatment Options for Tapeworms in Dogs
Treatment for tapeworm is usually very effective and it includes administering de-worming medications, according to the veterinarian’s prescribed directions. After you successfully eliminate your dog’s tapeworm infestation, you should practice preventive actions to help reduce your dog’s risk of getting infected again. Prevention includes:
- Applying a flea preventative to your dog
- Avoid letting your dog roam unsupervised
- Clean up after your pet, especially in public dog parks or when taking her on walks
- Keep regularly scheduled veterinary visits
If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with tapeworm and prescribes a de-worming or other medications to your dog, you can receive a free quote for your pet’s medications from Diamondback Drugs. We can help you save money on all of your pet medications.
As always, be sure to inform your veterinarian about any medications or supplements your dog is currently taking so your vet can make the best treatment decision for your pet’s unique case and help reduce the risk of a potential drug interaction.
Author: Giano Panzarella