Intestinal Parasite Series: Tapeworms

By July 22, 2016Pet Talk

Tapeworms are parasites that attach themselves to the wall of your pets small intestines with their hook-like mouthparts. Adult tapeworms may reach up to 8 inches in length and are made up of many small segments. As the tail end of the worm matures, the segments break off and pass in the stool. Occasionally the segments can be seen crawling near the anus or on the surface of a fresh bowel movement. These segments look like dried grains of rice and contain hundreds of tapeworm eggs which are released into the environment when the segment dries. The dried segments are small, hard and golden in color and can sometimes be seen stuck to the hair around the pet’s anus or on their bedding.

How will tapeworms affect my pet?

Pets become infested with tapeworms by ingesting the eggs which are often carried by fleas and rodents. The most common way for your pet to become infected is by chewing or licking its skin as a flea bites, therefore swallowing the flea. As the flea is digested within the pet’s intestine, the tapeworm hatches and anchors itself to the intestinal lining. Tapeworms cause many problems for your pet such as vomiting and weight loss. They cause an irritation around the anus causing the pet to “scoot” its bottom across the ground or carpet.

How do I prevent my pet from getting tapeworms?

Once your pet has been treated for tapeworms it is important to determine the initial cause. Flea control is very important in the management of tapeworms. If the fleas are not treated, reinfection will occur in as little as two weeks. Keep all pets in the household on flea preventatives such as Trifexis® for dogs and Advantage Multi® for cats. These products can also help to protect them from several other infectious parasites.

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