The most common tapeworms do not usually produce serious symptoms in dogs and cats. Thus, you may not know pets have the parasite until they pass it on to a litter of puppies or kittens or a veterinarian finds tapeworm segments or eggs in the stool.
Mild to Moderate Infestation
Tapeworms, also known as cestodes, consists of a long, flat (tape-like) body with a small head, the scolex, that fastens itself to the intestine walls with hooks and suckers. Tapeworms very rarely cause significant illness or symptoms in dogs or cats.
While pets infected with the most common type of canine and feline tapeworms may have changes to the texture and condition of their coat, owners are unlikely to notice a mild or moderate infestation. Very young kittens and puppies along with senior cats and dogs are more likely to develop a serious case of tapeworms. Also, certain breeds of dogs and cats are at a greater risk for acquiring tapeworms repeatedly, which may increase the chances of developing severe infestations. Specifically, you should have your veterinarian check your pets for tapeworms at least twice a year if they are a hunting breed of dog or outdoor cats that chases prey.
Cats and dogs with severe tapeworm infestations may display symptoms. These signs can include diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and weight loss. Dogs and cats may also become increasingly more irritable as the infestation becomes worse.
Unlike some other parasites, you may be able to see tapeworms in your pet’s stool yourself with your naked eye. While a tapeworm can measure anywhere from one inch to several feet, what you see in your pet’s stool is pieces of the tapeworm’s segmented body, which break away from the tapeworm as they mature. These segments appear as small moving white objects. You may also be able to see tapeworm eggs, which resemble small grains of white rice. Sometimes, excreted tapeworm segments may cling to the fur or skin around your pet’s anus. If you see these excreted tapeworm segments, take extreme care to clean your pet and any areas in your home where they may have been deposited.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of a tapeworm in dogs?
Tapeworms in dogs can cause a variety of symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and weight loss. These symptoms may be mild or severe, but generally, they don't last for more than two weeks. Tapeworms are parasites that can infect dogs. They are transmitted by fleas, and they can be seen in the stool of infected dogs. Tapeworms look like small pieces of white rice that are segmented and move when they exit the body.
Can tapeworms cause diarrhea?
Yes, tapeworms can cause diarrhea in dogs. Tapeworms can cause diarrhea because they produce large amounts of a chemical called proglottid segments. When these segments break off, they contain enzymes that digest food in the host's intestine-digested food leaks out into the dog's poop, which is why it looks like pieces of red rice. You might notice that your dog has tapeworms when you see little white dots on his poop. Those are tapeworm eggs.
Are tapeworms contagious in dogs?
Yes, tapeworms are contagious in dogs. Tapeworms are the most common type of parasitic worm that affects dogs in the United States. They are roundworms, and they can be transmitted to your dog through a flea bite or by eating an infected rodent or another animal. Tapeworms can cause diarrhea and weight loss if left untreated, and they need to be treated with medication prescribed by your veterinarian.
What happens if you leave tapeworms untreated in dogs?
If you leave tapeworms untreated in dogs, they can cause several adverse effects. The first and most common is the development of anemia. The tapeworms eat blood from the dog, but they also absorb some of it themselves. If they are left untreated, they will continue to feed on their host's blood until they die off, but this means that the dog's body doesn't have enough red blood cells to function properly. Another common effect is worms in your dog's stool. The worms that cause tapeworm infection are tiny and white, so you might not see them right away when you look at your dog's poop.
How long after deworming a dog are the tapeworms gone?
Tapeworms are usually gone within 24 hours after deworming. However, it is not always possible to know exactly how long tapeworms will remain in your dog after deworming. This is because there are many different types of tapeworms, and some can live for up to five years in your pet's digestive tract.
Are tapeworms hard to get rid of in dogs?
Tapeworms are easy to get rid of in dogs. The treatment is simple, and the worms are usually only a minor inconvenience for your pet.
Other Signs Your Pet May Be Sick
How to Tell if Your Cat is Sick
The Symptoms of Gastritis
What Causes Diarrhea
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.