There is hardly anything more disgusting than finding a white, slimey tapeworm stuck on your favorite easy chair or bed after your dog gets up and walks away.  While a dog tapeworm infection is not inherently life-threatening, it can cause your dog discomfort.

A tapeworm is comprised of segments that are ¼-1 inch long, white and can be seen moving in your dog’s stool.  When these segments dry out, they look like grains of rice or sesame seeds.  Tapeworms live in the dog’s small intestine and steal nutrients from the food your dog eats.

Some types of tapeworm can grow up to 15 feet long.  However, a more common size is 3-5 inches.  The tapeworm’s segmented body grows continuously and the oldest segments are shed in the dog’s stool.  These segments contain many thousands of eggs.

How Does A Dog Get Tapeworms?

The only way a dog can get a tapeworm is by ingesting a tapeworm-infected flea.  For example, the dog may eat the flea when cleaning itself.  The flea’s body is digested in the dog’s stomach which releases the tiny tapeworm that docks onto the dog’s intestine wall.  The tapeworm begins to grow a long tail.  It is basically a head segment to hold onto the wall of the dog’s intestine - with a neck – and many tail segments.  Each segment that makes up the tail is like a separate body, with an independent digestive system and reproductive tract.  The tapeworm absorbs nutrients through its skin as the dog digests food

Symptoms Of Dog Tapeworm

Many tapeworm infections go unnoticed.  You will rarely ever know that your dog has tapeworms unless you find a segment on the couch or see them in the dog’s feces.  However, you may hear a “rumbly tummy syndrome” where the dog has increased intestinal motility, and sometimes gas.  Also, you may see the dog’s diarrhea streaked with mucus.  The fact is, tapeworms don’t cause many problems that we are aware of.

Diagnosing Dog Tapeworm

Tapeworms are unlike other dog intestinal parasites because they don’t lay eggs inside the dog.  So, if you believe your dog may be tapeworm infected, you will need to have your veterinarian perform a test to look for tapeworms.  It is also possible to see tapeworm segments stuck to the hair around the dog’s anus or in its feces.

Preventing Dog Tapeworm

The only way to keep tapeworms from infecting your dog is by keeping it free of fleas.  There are some good treatment products available that will get rid of flea infestations in your dog.  However, it may be difficult to keep tapeworms from recurring over and over again as it could be difficult to keep your dog totally free of fleas.  There are a number of dog flea treatment products available.  Two of them are Frontline TopSpot, and Advantage Topical Solution.  You can also choose a dog and flea collar such as Hartz UltraGuard Flea and Tick Collar or the Bio Spot Flea and Tick Collar.  A good idea – before buying any of these products is to ask your vet for a recommendation.

Another good way to keep your dog flea free is to bathe and groom it regularly.  Believe it or not, you can also vacuum the dog to remove its fleas.

Treating Your Dog For Tapeworms

If you discover that your dog does have tapeworms, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to deworm it.  However, most over-the-counter dewormers do not work with tapeworms.  But there are two dewormers designed specifically to kill tapeworms - Droncit and D-Worm.  Or you can choose a broad-spectrum dewormer such as Sentinel or Drontal Plus, both of which are said to also kill tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms.

Tapeworms in dogs are not life-threatening, but it is not healthy for your dog to be tapeworm infected.  Plus, it’s not healthy to have tapeworms in your home – left on a sofa or your favorite chair.  The good news is that it is possible to prevent a dog tapeworm infection and, even if your dog does contact them, this particular dog worm is easy to eliminate them.

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