Pets & Animal Pets & Animal

Can a Dog Live Its Whole Life With Tapeworms and Not Know?

    Tapeworm Lifecycle

    • Tapeworms are primitive segmented worms that reproduce in a life cycle that takes only three weeks to complete. Once ingested, the immature tapeworms attach themselves to the dog's intestinal lining and steal digested nutrients. The mature tapeworm grows up to 27 inches long, developing in segments that contain roughly a dozen eggs each. These segments break off and are passed through the anus of the dog. The dispersed eggs are ingested by fleas or lice. The dog then ingests the infected flea or louse while licking or scratching itself.

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    • A dog with a mild infestation of tapeworms may never show any symptoms at all, while a dog with a very heavy parasite load may die from malnutrition or intestinal blockage. If you see rice-like white segments in the feces or if you catch your dog "scooting" its anus on the floor, your dog likely has a tapeworm infection. Dogs that show no signs may be diagnosed by a veterinarian utilizing a microscopic fecal exam.

      Dewormers containing praziquantel or epsiprantel are effective in killing tapeworms. These medications are given orally and are available over the counter at pet stores or veterinary offices.

    Prevention

    • Tapeworm infections are very common in dogs and puppies. The most effective methods of prevention include utilizing monthly flea preventatives, limiting exposure to strange animals and refraining from feeding raw meat or allowing your dog to kill wild animals.

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