How do I protect my dog from tapeworms?
Updated: Apr 30
Tapeworms match their name, and look like long ribbons or pieces of tape. They are divided into lots of small segments, which can be up to 1cm each in length in dogs, depending on the tapeworm species.
Adult tapeworms live in the small intestine, and attach to the lining with specialised mouthparts. Here, they sit and absorb nutrients from the gut.
Tapeworms reproduce when some of their segments break off. These segments are full of tapeworm eggs, and are passed out in the faeces of your dog. They are often described as looking like moving grains of rice.
The most common species of tapeworm that our dogs carry is Dipylidium caninum, which affects dogs more commonly than any other pet. Although Dipylidium caninum is relatively short, usually maxing out at around 50cm.
Other tapeworms found in our UK dogs include Taenia species, and Echinococcus granulosus.
How does my dog get tapeworms?
Dogs can pick up tapeworms from several sources:
Some species of tapeworm can migrate into muscle and form cysts. Dogs may become infected by eating undercooked or raw meat from infected animals.
Fleas can carry Dipylidium caninum larvae. Dogs can swallow infected fleas when grooming, and become infected themselves. This is a major route of infection with Dipylidium caninumfor dogs in the UK.
From contact with infected dogs or ground that has become infected with tapeworms via faeces This can include sheep and cow faeces which carry Taenia tapeworms.
How do I prevent my dog being exposed to tapeworms?
Thankfully, although you can’t stop your dog being exposed to tapeworms, there are lots of options for preventing an infestation developing.
Regular worming treatments. Worming treatments usually come in the form of tablets or spot-ons,and may manage a range of parasites including tapeworms. The best parasite protocol for your dog will depend on you, your dog, your lifestyle and even the season, and your vet can help you decide which regime works best for you.
Keeping your dogs and cats up to date with flea treatments will also reduce the risk of fleas infecting your dog with a tapeworm.
Cook any meat thoroughly this will kill any tapeworms that may be present and clean up after your dog quickly. This will help prevent further spread of tapeworms.