Tapeworms are a common parasite that can infect local dogs and cause unpleasant symptoms. Today our Rancho Palos Verdes vets discuss tapeworms in dogs - including the common symptoms and treatments.
Tapeworm Infection in Dogs
Flat, segmented parasites, tapeworms infect dogs using hook-like mouths to attach themselves to the intestines of a canine host. They can grow to as large as 11-inches, and as they mature will shed segments that exit the host via their feces.
Spotting Stool Tapeworms in Dogs
Tapeworms can sometimes be spotted moving on anal hairs or through the feces of an infected animal.
How Tapeworms In Dogs Spreads
Eating fertilized tapeworm eggs is not a concern, as unlike other parasites this does not pose a risk of infecting the dog that consumed them. A tapeworm must first pass through the system of a flea, another parasite that can plague dogs. When a dog eats a flea that is bothering them, they run the risk of unknowingly swelling with it tapeworm eggs the flea has eaten. As the flea is digested, the tapeworm inside hatches and is now able to wreak havoc on your dog's insides.
Are Tapeworms Dangerous To Dogs?
While generally uncomfortable, dogs should not experience any health crises related to tapeworms. For puppies it can become dangerous more often, should their growing intestines be overwhelmed by a large number of tapeworms.
Diagnosing Tapeworms In Dogs
One sign of tapeworms you can find at home is if your dog begins scooting. They will drag their bums on the ground in an effort to relieve the irritation caused by the parasite. Although this is a common sign, it is not conclusive – there are many possible explanations for scooting in dogs.
Your veterinarian can take a more comprehensive approach, by observing the light-colored worms present in your dog's feces. Passing worm segments happens periodically, not consistently, and so an annual fecal exam is likely to miss them. As a result, dog owners should contact their vet if they detect anything strange in their dog's stool, and save the sample for them to make a professional diagnosis.
Tapeworm Treatment For Dogs
Dogs who are diagnosed with tapeworms fortunately should have an easy enough time to recover from the infection. With modern anti-parasite medications, the parasites can be quickly and safely killed inside your dog and disintegrate the tapeworm's remains, allowing them to pass them through their anus. As they've been disintegrated, they shouldn't be detectable any longer and your dog should experience no undue discomfort passing them.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.