Canine tapeworms are parasites that take up residence in your dog’s small intestine. They get their name because they closely resemble strips of tape with their thin and flat appearance. Although a single worm can measure up to six inches in length, it is made up of small segments that are no larger than a grain of rice.
Tapeworms in dogs can become a problem in various ways. Dogs typically get infected with these parasites after ingesting a flea. Eating a dead animal is another way that dogs can become infected. Some tapeworms will become a problem after a dog eats a rabbit.
As mentioned, canine tapeworms reside in the small intestine. They will attach to the intestinal wall using small hooks. There are also multiple rows of teeth that they can use to hang onto the wall.
An infestation of tapeworms usually doesn’t cause major problems. The main concern is the amount of space that they can take up in the intestines as a single worm can easily measure over six inches long. If the infestation gets too severe, your dog may experience symptoms such as constipation or diarrhea. Weight loss is also common in later stages since the parasites will prevent your dog from absorbing nutrients properly.
Segments of tapeworms in dogs are passed out of the body through the feces. You may be able to spot some of them in the stool. Some may also be left behind on your dog’s anus.
In order to treat an infestation, your dog will need to take deworming medication. It can be given topically, by tablet, or injected. All of the tapeworms in your dog’s body will be killed after a single treatment.
However, it is very easy for your dog to get reinfected with canine tapeworms after being treated. In order to keep your dog from getting infected again, owners will need to control the flea population. Once it is brought under control, a second course of treatment will prevent reinfection.