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Tapeworms in Dogs: How to Detect and Get Rid of Them

Tapeworms are a very common problem in dogs. Therefore, even if you are just thinking about purchasing a puppy, you should already know how to identify these parasites and in what ways to get rid of them. Forewarned is forearmed! So read on and learn everything about tapeworms in dogs!

Types of Tapeworms in Dogs

There are four species of these parasites that can infest a dog:

  1. Dipylidium caninum (flea tapeworm). This is a long flat worm the length of which can reach 60 cm (2 feet).
  2. Taenia saginata (beef tapeworm). This type of tapeworm reaches enormous sizes (up to several meters), so it is very dangerous.
  3. Echinococcus. They are also very dangerous. They first get into the intestine, and then go directly into the blood vessels, and are brought with the blood to various organs (mainly to the liver), where they form bubbles.
  4. Alveococcus. Such parasites form alveococcus blisters that can burst some time later. As a result, the brain, liver, kidneys, and lungs can be affected leading to serious complications.

The Ways How Tapeworms Get Into the Dog’s Body

The eggs of different species spread in different ways:

  • Dipylidium caninum enters the dog’s body with the bite of infected fleas. That’s why this species is often called a flea tapeworm.
  • Taenia saginata can be found in raw meat.
  • Echinococcus infects dogs that live in regions where pigs or sheep are bred. These parasites are transmitted from these animals to pets.
  • As for Alveococcus, mainly hunting dogs are in danger of infestation with it. This tapeworm’s eggs can get into the pet’s body if it eats the infected carrion. 

The Signs of Tapeworms in Dogs

At the initial stage, a parasitic infestation is often asymptomatic. But as the tapeworms grow and multiply, a lot of warning signs appear. It’s pretty easy to notice them. Here are the list and descriptions of them.


The parasites lay their eggs in the intestines of the dog, and they pass through the feces. This provokes itching in the anus. However, how to understand that this area itches? The pet can’t tell you about it himself, but you can easily recognize this symptom on your own if you observe the dog’s behavior.

Have you ever seen a dog sitting down on the floor or carpet, stretching its hind legs forward and pushing the body forward with front legs as if it is “riding” on the surface (rubbing against it)? Do you think your pet is doing this just for fun? But no! This is how the dog scratches the anus when it itches. And this is one of the surest signs of tapeworms!

Digestive Problems

Tapeworms are very large and long. Minimal length is 1-2 cm (0,03-0,06 feet). Sometimes it can reach 60 cm (2 feet) and even more! And there is not 1 tapeworm in a dog! These parasites multiply rapidly, and soon there are plenty of them! Such huge foreign organisms in the intestine interfere with its normal functioning.

Therefore, all signs of an intestinal disorder can be observed:

  • regurgitation;
  • diarrhea, or, conversely, constipation;
  • weakness and passive mood.

Traces of Worms in Feces

Their segments and eggs can be found there. They look like small parts of white or light yellow color.

Weight Loss

Tapeworms in dogs feed on nutrients that come from food. And, the more parasites there are in the body, the fewer nutrients remain for the animal itself. Therefore, it loses weight. This symptom usually appears in the advanced stages of the disease, when there are already a lot of worms in the body.

Atypical Appetite

Since a dog doesn’t receive enough nutrients, it begins to ask for more food. After all, the usual portion is no longer enough to feed both the pet and the “guests” who have settled in its intestines.

Dull coat

This is the first sign of vitamin and mineral deficiency in animals. And if even dog vitamins don’t help then the reason may be in “stealing” nutrients by parasites.

Changes in Behavior

As the dog’s health worsens, it becomes lethargic, doesn’t want active games, and gets tired very quickly. Also, the pet can become capricious and anxious.

What to Do if You Suspect Tapeworms in Your Pet

If you have noticed at least one alarming symptom, this is already a reason to suspect the disease in a dog. The best way out is to go to a vet. A doctor will swab a dog for worms. This analysis will give the exact answer to the question of whether there are parasites in your pet’s body. Also, it will show what type of worms your dog has for choosing the most effective treatment.

What Will Happen if You Don’t Deworm your Dog

Some types of tapeworms can spread from the intestines to other organs. This leads to severe disorders, that can even be fatal.

And even those types of parasites that live only in the intestines are also dangerous. When there are too many of them they greatly interfere with normal digestion and take a lot of nutrients from the dog. This leads to severe emaciation.

Are Tapeworms in a Dog Dangerous for People?

It depends on the species of parasite. Most of the worms that infect dogs can’t live in the human body. Even getting there, they quickly leave the unsuitable organism or die. However, there are some exceptions.

For example, the Echinococcus tapeworm is very dangerous to humans. More precisely, it is not the adult worm itself that is dangerous, but its larvae. Once they get in the stomach of a human they bore microscopic holes in its walls and enter the bloodstream. The blood brings them to the other internal organs, most often the liver. And there begins a new stage in their life cycle. A bubble with a liquid is formed, in which the embryos of new worms float. This is called hydatid. Such a formation leads to liver disorders. And it’s possible to get rid of it only surgically.

Sounds pretty scary, of course. But getting infected with such a worm from a dog is quite difficult. They come out of the pet’s anus. And they enter the human body through the mouth. For an adult, this is practically unrealistic to get infected. But for children, it is rather possible. If a child touched the dog’s butt or came into contact with its feces, and then, without washing his hands, began to eat or bite his nails, then infection is quite likely.

How to Get Rid of Tapeworms in Dogs

A vet will explain to you a detailed treatment regimen. It can consist of the following components.


This is the best solution to the problem. Professional dog dewormers are approved by vets and guarantee successful treatment. They contain medications that kill parasites but are safe for pets.

There are plenty of powerful remedies on the modern market. They are released in the form of granules, chewable tablets, liquids, etc. Consult a vet and choose the most effective and convenient option for your case individually.

Additional Remedies

Folk remedies can improve the effectiveness of the main treatment and speed up recovery. The most popular of them are:

  • pumpkin seeds (just add them to your dog’s diet);
  • cloves (ground or whole buds added to the pet’s diet);
  • tansy (give a tablespoon of a tincture of 20 grams of flowers and leaves poured with a glass of boiling water and left for 10 hours three times a day).

Prevention of Tapeworms in Dogs

Even if you get rid of the problem completely, there is no guarantee that the dog will not get infected again. To minimize the risk of this, follow preventive measures that are listed below.

Preventive Deworming

No preventive measures can give a 100% guarantee that a dog will not get infected. Therefore, preventive deworming is necessary. How often to do this in different cases:

  • once a year if a pet is not in danger, doesn’t show the signs of worms, and eats only dry food;
  • once a half a year if there is meat or offal in the pet’s diet;
  • a week before vaccination;
  • three weeks before planned mating.

Old pets can be dewormed only under the close supervision of a vet as their organism may be too weak for some medications. Also, it is forbidden to give powerful antiparasitic drugs to pregnant and lactating female dogs.

Prevention and Timely Disposal of Fleas

Since one of the types of tapeworms is transmitted through these blood-sucking parasites, make sure that your pet doesn’t have them. To do this, use flea collars or other preventive measures. If you do notice fleas on the body of the animal, then immediately get rid of them with a special remedy (for example, anti-flea shampoo).

Avoiding Dangerous Food

Don’t give raw meat, fish, or offal to your dog as it may contain eggs of parasites. Always cook these products to kill the eggs of the worms that may be there.

Avoiding Dangerous Places

If your dog was in the forest or in the area where sheep and pigs are bred, then be sure to carry out the procedure of preventive deworming as these places bear the risk of tapeworm infestation.