Tapeworms are long, flat worms that attach themselves to your dog’s (or cat’s) intestines. A tapeworm body consists of multiple parts, or segments, each part having it’s own reproductive organs. Tapeworm infections can usually be diagnosed by finding the segments in your dog’s feces, on his back end, or where your he/she sleeps, these segments may look like grains of rice or seeds.
The most common tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) infects the dog/cat by eating an infected host, the flea. There are other species of Tapeworms such as Taenia or Echinococcus which can infect your pet by eating a small rodents such as mice, rats, squirrels or rabbits.
How to prevent Tapeworm
Keep your pet from coming in contact with the hosts that may carry tapeworm larvae. Because the flea is the host to the most common kind of tapeworm, keeping your pet on flea prevention is the best prevention of tapeworm.
Tapeworms can potentially infect people. Due to their behavior, young children are at great risk, but immunosuppressed, elderly, and pregnant women are also at risk. Having regular fecal examinations performed on your pet and treating when indicated can help minimize the chances of human transmission.
Dogs and cats become infected by swallowing an infected flea while grooming themselves or each other.