The Causes of Tape Worms in Dogs

by Betty Lewis
    Keeping Beau flea-free greatly minimizes his chance of hosting tapeworms.

    Keeping Beau flea-free greatly minimizes his chance of hosting tapeworms.

    Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Though tapeworm isn't the most harmful parasite your pup can catch, you don't want Beau hosting this worm in his belly. Ranging in size from less than an inch to several feet, tapeworms take up residence in the small intestines. The primary cause of tapeworm in dogs is from ingesting infected fleas.

    If Beau has tapeworm, chances are it's Dipylidium caninum, the most common species of tapeworm found in dogs. This type of tapeworm is passed through fleas and lice who ingest the parasite's eggs. When Beau grooms himself, he may ingest an infected flea. The parasite's eggs are released into your pup's digestive system, giving the parasite a new home in his intestinal tract. Taenia, another type of tapeworm, is contracted by eating infected animals, such as birds, rodents and rabbits. If Beau has roaming privileges outdoors, and happens to catch and eat an infected animal, he's apt to become acquainted with this type of tapeworm. Echinococcus tapeworm, found in some rodents, deer, sheep, goats and other animals, is uncommon in dogs. Signs of tapeworm include the presence of rice-sized segments in Beau's bedding or around his rear, or itching, often evidenced by your pup scooting along the floor. Your vet can prescribe one of a variety of medicines to rid him of his unwelcome visitor. Using a flea preventive will help keep Beau tapeworm-free. Keeping him confined so he doesn't come across potentially infected animals to eat also will reduce his risk of infection.

    Photo Credits

    • Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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