Tapeworm is a dangerous parasite dog owners should be aware of and be taking preventative measures against. The canine tapeworm, genus Echinococcus, infects the small intestine and treatment is necessary to stop the growth of the parasite and spread to those susceptible, especially children. Cestodiasis is the medical term for a tapeworm infection.
DESCRIPTION – How do I identify if my dog has a tapeworm infection?
An infection and growth of the tapeworm results in segments breaking off and passing through the dog’s digestive system, which may be visible to the owner in stool or under the tail fur. Some species have smaller segments and are more difficult to see with the naked eye while others are easily spotted. The parasite will irritate the dog’s system and licking or biting at the area may give an owner a clue to the infection. Other dogs will scoot, running their bottoms along the ground in an attempt to scratch the itch. The segments may also travel into the dog’s stomach and cause vomiting, where they may be visible.
LIFECYCLE – How does a tapeworm develop and mature?
Tape worm eggs are released into the environment in an infected dog’s feces. A flea larvae will then ingest the egg and continue to mature. The tapeworm grows on a microscopic scale at this stage in its lifecycle. A dog may then ingest the now adult flea as part of its grooming or irritation from a flea bite.
Treatment – Ok, my dog has tapeworm. What now?
Tapeworms are best treated through an administration of praziquantel by your veterinarian. This drug is not contained in a regular heartworm medication, as many dog owners incorrectly assume. Praziquantel is a very safe drug when properly administered. It works by killing and dissolving the worms, which may mean the owner will not observe additional segments in the dog’s stool, though the drug is effective.
Risks – Can I or my family be infected with tapeworm?
Generally, no, but rare cases of infection have been reported in children. The best steps to take are rigorous attention to flea control, which transmit tapeworm and other parasites. Keep dogs out of the trash and sanitize the general area your pets and family live and play. Also, general hand washing and removal of pet waste will control the contraction and spread of tapeworm.
Tapeworm is a troublesome parasite which is spread through dog waste. It’s a danger to dogs and children and owners should keep a regular cleaning and pet waste removal schedule to reduce risk of infection. Sign up for Pet Domestic services and have an extra hand in the fight against this parasite.