Intestinal parasites are a disgusting, but relatively common threat to your pets. At TCAP, we regularly help pets that need a quick dewormer to clear their system of parasites hoping to absorb the nutrients pets need to stay healthy and happy. Today, we will focus on the tapeworm, how to identify it, and how to clear it out of your pet’s system.
What are Tapeworms?
Tapeworms are flat intestinal worms that are made up of many small segments, each about a quarter of an inch long. These worms thrive by attaching to the wall of the small intestine using hook-like mouthparts. The most common type of tapeworm found in household pets is known as Dipylidium Caninum. Adult tapeworms may reach up to 8 inches in length formed of individual segments. These segments will occasionally break off from the end to be passed when a pet defecates. These segments are known as proglottids and are an easy indicator to look for to see if your pet has been infected. As these tapeworm segments dry, it begins to turn a golden color and eventually breaks open, releasing the fertilized eggs into the environment.
How Do Pets Get Tapeworms?
Unlike roundworms, the most common intestinal parasite in pets, tapeworms must first pass through an intermediate host (a flea) before they can infect a pet. Pets will consume infected fleas either during grooming or in response to a flea bite. Ingesting infected fleas is the most common way a pet can get tapeworms, therefore one of the best ways to prevent tapeworms is to ensure that your pet’s environment is flea-free or that your pet is on a flea preventative.
Symptoms to Look For
Ever notice flecks of rice in your pet’s stool or in the fur around their anus? This is a surefire sign that your pet is infected with tapeworms. Pets with tapeworms may also exhibit a behavior known as “scooting”. Please note that scooting can occur for a variety of reasons so this is not a reliable symptom.
Treatment is quick and simple. At TCAP, we offer a Droncit injection to clear the tapeworms out of your pet’s system. This injection is $10 for cats and $15 for dogs. On rare cases, this injection will need to be provided again 2-3 weeks later, but most often a single dose does the trick. Droncit injections are offered on a walk-in basis during TCAP’s vaccine hours, if you think your pet has tapeworms, find a convenient time and our friendly and experienced veterinary team would love to be of assistance: https://texasforthem.org/hours-locations/vaccinations/.