As health conditions go, tapeworms tend to have a high ick factor but are more-or-less low on a scale of serious medical problems. There are several medications that effectively treat tapeworms in dogs and cats so you should be able to get rid of the parasites fairly quickly. However, you do need to take steps to avoid reinfestation, which is common.
To rid your pet of tapeworms, the scolex, or the head of the tapeworm must be killed and removed from the body. This is usually accomplished by administering deworming medication orally or via an injection. Depending on which drug you use, the tapeworm may be dissolved or the medication will work to paralyze the worm so it loosens its grip on the intestine wall and can be passed through the digestive tract.
The most commonly prescribed anti-worm medications (known as anthelmintics) include:
- Praziquantel -- the ingredient in drugs such as Iverhart Max and Drontal Plus.
- Fenbendazole -- the ingredient in Panacur
- Epsiprantel -- the ingredient in Cestex
There is a chance of side effects with deworming medications, including diarrhea and vomiting. These can also occur if your pet has a toxic reaction to the medication, so it’s important to use these drugs under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian.
Prescription medications should effectively kill any active tapeworms, but they will not destroy eggs. To prevent your pet from being reinfected with parasites that might hatch from these eggs, it is very important to practice good hygiene. Remove stool and wet spots from your cat’s litter box daily and wash it frequently with bleach and boiling water; then dry it thoroughly before refilling the litter box. For dogs, be sure to clean yards or other areas that they use to relieve themselves.
You might also discuss with your veterinarian whether using homeopathic medicines such as Homeopet WRM Clear Drops is appropriate for your cat or dog. Ingredients in some homeopathic products can expel internal parasites and may promote a healthy digestive system which can lower the risk of a tapeworm infestation.
Of course, ideally, you will be able to avoid tapeworm infections altogether. One of the most important steps you can take is to control fleas and the presence of rodents that may act as intermediate hosts. Treat your dog or cat with flea shampoos and collars. If you have a hard time managing fleas, ask your veterinarian about using a prescription medication to help prevent them from infesting your pet.
More on Treating Parasites in Pets
Comparing Heartworm Medications
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.