Tapeworms in Dogs

Tapeworms are flat worms that vary from a few inches to a few feet in length. They are segmented worms and each segment contains eggs. The head of the tapeworm will latch onto the wall of the small intestine and feed. It will detach a body segment containing eggs to be passed through with your dog’s feces. Often times, they resemble grains of rice attached to the anus or in the feces of your dog.

The most common type of tapeworms in dogs are known as the Dipylidium caninum. The most common cause of tapeworms in dogs is when your dog swallows a flea that has eaten tapeworm eggs. It is known that fleas eat tapeworm larvae. If your dog is infested with fleas and bites at the itching fur, he can very easily eat a few fleas that may carry tapeworm eggs. Once the flea is digested, the tapeworm eggs then hatch in the intestines and latch on to start feeding and reproducing. Fortunately, tapeworms in dogs are very easy to treat and do not usually cause serious illness.

Symptoms of Tapeworms in Dogs

Often times, you will not even realize that your dog has tapeworms. They do feed on the blood and nutrients in your dog, but no immediate symptoms or changes in your dog are usually present. Normally, symptoms will begin to show over a longer period of time, compared to some other types of worms in dogs.

The most common symptoms of tape worms in dogs are the following:

  • Small, rice-looking particles in the feces or around the anus.
  • Diarrhea. This is a good time to look for the possible tapeworm larvae.
  • Poor fur and skin conditions. The fur will likely be dull with no shine, and the skin may be dry and flakey. This is because the tapeworm is sucking out all the beneficial nutrients in your dog.
  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Persistent anal itching. You will likely see your dog licking or dragging his anus on the carpet in your home to try and relieve the itching.
  • Bloated stomach area. Sometimes there are many tapeworms in your dog’s intestines. This may show by a bloated belly area. This is often seen in new puppies.

The best way to determine if your dog has tapeworms is to observe how often he scoots on the carpet (check out Zerorez cleaning service here). Examine the anus for tapeworm larvae. Next time your dog eliminates, be sure to check his feces for the same small, white larvae. If you notice anything, it is important to take your dog to the vet immediately to seek proper treatment. Although tapeworms are not generally a very serious condition, they can lead to one if left untreated too long.

For more information about worms in dogs, causes, symptoms and treatment options, visit


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