Dipylidium caninum is the most commonly found tapeworm in pets, and in spite of its name can infect both dogs and cats.
How can my pet get tapeworm?
Both dogs and cats are infected in the same way – by eating an infected flea.
Young tapeworms in the flea latch on the inside of the dog or cat’s intestine and begin to grow. When they are mature, the tailmost segments, which are effectively bags of eggs, break off and are passed out in the feaces. There they release their eggs, which are eaten by flea larvae on the pet’s coat, starting the cycle over again.
How will I know if my pet has tapeworm?
Tapeworms are flat and made up of a series of segments. While it is fairly unusual for a pet to pass an intact tapeworm, you may see telltale signs of segments around the anus or in the stools. These look like small grains of rice.
Another classic sign in dogs is ‘scooting’, where a dog will scoot accross the floor with its bottom on the ground, in an affort to releive the itch caused by the tapeworm segments.
How can I prevent my pet getting tapeworm?
There are several very effective drugs which can treat a tapeworm infection in your pet.
Because the source of tapeworm infection is fleas, treating your pet to prevent infestation with fleas is just as important as treating it for tapeworm.
Are tapeworms a risk to human health?
Humans cannot get tapeworm from a dog or cat, but they can theoretically be infected with Dipylidium caninum – they get it in just the same way as a pet does, by ingesting an infected flea. However human infestation is very rare.