How to Prevent Tapeworms in Dogs

by Valerie A. Modreski
    Your dog's veterinarian can treat a tapeworm infection.

    Your dog's veterinarian can treat a tapeworm infection.

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    Canine tapeworms are a parasitic infection common in dogs. Ingested fleas are the primary source for animal to dog transmission, and interaction with a contagious animal runs a close second. Understanding the cause, transportation method, diagnosis particulars and biology of the canine tapeworm is helpful information for protecting your dog from parasitic infection.

    Having your pet under a veterinarian's care is important if you suspect your dog has been subjected to a parasitic tapeworm infection. Use a flea prevention product to protect your dog from accidentally swallowing a tapeworm infested flea while self-grooming. Regularly washing your hands, especially after an interaction with another animal, helps prevent a tapeworm infection. Avoid all contact with animal feces. If your dog shares the home with a cat who has exposure to other cats and their feces, have your dog checked frequently for tapeworms. Keep your dog away from areas where the soil could be contaminated with animal feces. Tapeworms are contracted when dogs eat unwashed orchard fruit or vegetables, or drink water near animal pastures inhabited by an infected animal. Raw meats are the highest risk food product for tapeworms. Always follow proper food-handling guidelines, and if you feed your dog homemade meals, cook meats to a well done consistency.

    The tapeworms contracted by canines are parasites called dipylidium caninum, which almost exclusively inhabit the intestinal tracts of vertebrate animals, where they attach to the inner wall. The canine tapeworm parasite travels by way of live host creatures including dogs, cats, humans, farm animals and vertebrate wildlife. As dipylidium caninum tapeworms mature, live segments break away and are passed through the feces of the infected host. Look for tapeworms in your dog's feces, around their anal opening and on the dog's coat or bedding. Other symptoms might be loss of appetite, scooting and loose stools. Walking your dog on a leash, and limiting your dog's interaction with unfamiliar and unattended dogs, are helpful steps in tapeworm prevention.

    The CDC calls parasitic diseases transmitted from animal to animal, zoonotic diseases. Your dog can be infected with tapeworms when he comes in contact with not only an infected animal, but also its fleas. Zoonotic parasitic diseases that inflict your dog will manifest a variety of symptoms including muscle aches, fever and diarrhea. Sometimes infected dogs exhibit severe symptoms that might be life-threatening. Only your veterinarian can offer diagnosis and prognosis for tapeworms in your dog. A dog owner who suspects his dog has contracted a canine tapeworm infection should quarantine his dog from other pets until an entire veterinary parasitic treatment has been completed.

    Criteria that will get a disease assigned to the CDC's Neglected Parasitic Infections list is that it exists in global regions without effective control. A dipylidium caninum parasite is an organism that prevails in a host and receives continued sustenance at the host's expense, until it is effectively destroyed. The canine tapeworm parasite can infect humans, but in developed areas it is almost exclusively found in pets. In underdeveloped areas, where more dogs roam unattended and water sources are at greater risk for contamination, human infections are more prevalent. In these situations, keeping your dog away from unfamiliar animals, and maintaining consistent healthy hygiene habits for your dog are effective tapeworm infection prevention.

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    About the Author

    Valerie A. Modreski has been a professional writer since 1982. She studied English literature at Broward College, and has written for a variety of publications. Modreski holds certifications in canine behavior and has worked extensively in the field of obedience. She also has hands-on experience in all issues related to canine welfare, including veterinary medicine, rescue and activism.

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