Keeping an eye on your dog's behavior and well, their poop, is important. This is the last article in the Importance of Poop series by our Dog House Facility manager Melanie Redford.
Tapeworms are long, flat worms that attach themselves to your dog’s intestines. A tapeworm body consists of multiple parts, or segments, each with its own reproductive organs. Tapeworm infections are usually diagnosed by finding segments—which appear as small white worms that may look like grains of rice or seeds—on the rear end of your dog, in your dog’s feces, or where your dog lives and sleeps.
There are several different kinds, or species, of tapeworms that can infect your dog, each with stage(s) in a different intermediate (in-between) host, which the dog eats to become infected. is a tapeworm that uses fleas as its intermediate host, whereas and species use small rodents (mice, rats, squirrels), rabbits, or large animals (such as deer or sheep) as their intermediate hosts.
How will tapeworms affect my dog?
Dogs with tapeworm infections usually are not sick and do not lose weight from the worms. Contrary to popular belief, dogs that “scoot” on their rear ends are generally doing it for reasons other than having tapeworms, such as blocked or irritated anal sacs (pouches located in your dog’s rear end) or other skin inflammation of the rear.
How do I prevent my dog from getting tapeworms?
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Try to keep your dog from coming in contact with intermediate hosts that contain tapeworm larvae. Because fleas are an intermediate host for the most common kind of tapeworm, consistent, safe, and effective flea control is an essential prevention measure.
If you think your dog is infected with tapeworms, call your veterinarian for an appointment to get an accurate diagnosis and safe, effective treatment options.
To prevent and tapeworm infections in dogs, administer a monthly heartworm preventive that contains a drug specific for tapeworm infections. For more information about human infections, please visit www.cdc.gov/parasites.
Can humans be harmed by tapeworms?
Certain tapeworms found in dogs or cats may cause serious disease in humans. Fortunately, these tapeworms ( species) are uncommon in the United States and are readily treated by prescriptions available from your veterinarian. There are rare reports of (a common tapeworm in pets) infections in children, but these infections are not associated with significant disease.
Similar to tapeworms and roundworms, hookworms are intestinal parasites that live in the digestive system of your dog . The hookworm attaches to the lining of the intestinal wall and feeds on your dog’s blood. Its eggs are ejected into the digestive tract and pass into the environment through your dog’s feces.
Larvae (young hookworms) that hatch from hookworm eggs live in the soil. These larvae can infect your dog simply through contact and penetration of the skin and through the dog eating the larvae when they ingest dirt or during their routine licking (cleaning).
How will hookworms affect my dog?
Hookworms suck blood and therefore cause internal blood loss. They are a serious threat to dogs, especially young puppies that may not survive the blood loss without transfusions. In older animals the blood loss may be more chronic, and the pet may have diarrhea and show weight loss.
If you think your dog is infected with hookworms, call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment for evaluation, diagnosis, and safe, effective treatment.
How do I prevent my dog from getting hookworms?
Similar to steps for prevention of other intestinal parasites, it is essential to keep your dog’s surroundings clean and prevent the dog from being in contaminated areas.
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Puppies should be treated for hookworms at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age with a deworming medication you can get from your veterinarian. This frequent treatment schedule is recommended due to the very high rate of hookworm infection in newborn puppies. Most monthly heartworm preventatives include a drug to prevent to treat and prevent infections so additional deworming medications are usually not required if the dog is reliably treated with a heartworm preventive. Fecal examinations should be conducted 2 to 4 times during the first year of life and 1 to 2 times per year in adults. Nursing mothers should be treated along with their puppies.
Consult your veterinarian for safe and effective prevention and treatment options.
Can humans be harmed by hookworms?
Some hookworms of dogs can infect humans by penetrating the skin. This is most likely to occur when walking barefoot on the beach, working in the garden or other areas where pets may deposit feces. Infection usually results in an itching sensation at the point where the larvae enter the skin and visible tracks on the skin. The condition is easily treated but can cause mild to extreme discomfort in the affected person. One species of hookworm that infects dogs is known to develop in the human intestine, too, where it may cause disease.
The whipworm is one of the four most common intestinal parasites of dogs. Whipworms reside in the cecum, which is inside your dog’s body where the small intestine and large intestine meet.
Dogs become infected with whipworms by swallowing infective whipworm eggs in soil or other substances that may contain dog feces.
How will whipworms affect my dog?
Dogs that are infected with a few whipworms may not have any signs of infection. More severe infections can cause bloody diarrhea. If an infected dog is not treated, then severe whipworm infection can cause serious disease and even death.
How do I prevent my dog from getting whipworms?
Whipworm infections can be prevented by removing your dog’s feces regularly from your yard. Because whipworms are sometimes more difficult to diagnose than other intestinal parasites, it is important that you take your dog to see a veterinarian at least annually for a properly conducted fecal examination (test of your dog’s feces).
Your veterinarian can prescribe safe and effective products that treat and control whipworm infections.