Tapeworms are a common parasite in dogs. They live in the small intestine and can be up to three feet long. Tapeworms suck blood out of dogs, but do so at a slow pace that dog owners do not notice.
Dog tapeworm symptoms can vary from dog to dog, and none are specific to tapeworm, which is why it can be hard to come up with a diagnosis right away. In fact, most dogs do not experience signs of tapeworm, even when they are carrying heavy loads of them in their bodies. Therefore, you should see a vet if your dog experiences any of the following:
- Licking or scratching in the anus
- Weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Dry coat
- Tapeworms (which resemble white rice) stuck to the dog’ anus
In severe cases, the dog may experience obstruction in the abdomen due to a heavy load of tapeworms. This requires immediate medical attention.
Types of tapeworm
- Dipylidium caninum – This is the most common type of tapeworm. It creates egg packets that look like cucumbers. They are caused by eating fleas and can reach up to 18 inches in length.
- Taenia – This type of tapeworm is common in rural areas, particularly dogs that are around farm animals. There are more than 100 species of Taenia tapeworms.
- Diphyllobothrium –This tapeworm is caused by raw or undercooked fish. They are wider than they are long and can live up to 20 years.
- Echinococcus – There are six types of this tapeworm. They are caused by eating dead animals. The eggs hatch inside the dog’s stomach and grow into adults.
The only way tapeworm can be completed cured is to destroy all of their heads. Without their heads being destroyed, the tapeworms can multiply. There are many deworming medicines available, such as Cestex, Droncit, and Drontal Plus Allwormer. A veterinarian can prescribe the right medication for your dog’s tapeworm, but it can often be bought much cheaper online.
When the medication is used as directed, the prognosis for tapeworm is very good. However, it is critical that fleas and lice be fully removed from the dog’s environment or the dog can become infected with tapeworms again.
Tapeworms are often carried by fleas and lice, so it is important to take proper measures to prevent them. Treat your dog regularly with a flea preventative and have them dewormed on a timed basis. Tapeworms can also be found in dead animals, so keep your dogs locked up to ensure that they do not eat them. If you give your dog meat, make sure it is cooked thoroughly.