They look a bit like something out of a sci-fi movie, but tapeworms are unfortunately very real. And they can infect your pets! These flat, segmented worms can get into your cat or dog fairly easily and do some damage if left untreated. Luckily, treatment is also quite simple. Here’s what you need to know.
Pets can ingest tapeworm eggs by eating an insect that is harboring the eggs. Most often this happens when a dog or cat swallows a flea while grooming themselves, but animals like birds, rodents, and rabbits can also harbor tapeworm eggs.
Eggs settle into the pet’s small intestine, and hatch into larvae that eventually become adults. An adult tapeworm can grow to a few inches or even a few feet long!
Segments of the worm break off inside the intestine and end up in the animal’s stool. And since these segments contain worms, the cycle can begin all over again in a new host.
You might actually witness these segments in your cat or dog’s stool or stuck to the fur around their anus. You might also see your pet licking or biting at their rear end or scooting their bottom across carpet or grass. They do this because of the irritation caused by the tapeworm segments.
While many pets harbor tapeworms without any obvious harm, they can become sick and underweight if the worms continue to proliferate. Plus, you don’t want to end up infected yourself! So, if we detect tapeworms, we treat the pet right away with a deworming medication. This medication rarely causes side effects, so it’s very easy and safe to use on most pets.
And of course, you want to control fleas anyway. But knowing that they can transmit tapeworm eggs is yet another fantastic reason to closely monitor your pet and home for signs of fleas.
If you need flea treatment or deworming medication, please call us to schedule an appointment. These are routine issues with pets, and we can offer the best advice and assistance for your situation.