How to Get Rid of Tapeworms in Dogs
Tapeworms are intestinal parasites that affect dogs, but also many other animal species. In case you didn’t know, tapeworms can be dangerous for people, too, and in some cases, they can be transmitted from dogs to humans. So, it is better to get rid of Tapeworms in dogs at an earlier stage.
There are many kinds of tapeworms out there, but one of the most common ones is called Dipylidium caninum. In this post, we’ll not only look at how you can get rid of these pesky parasites but also what you could feed your dog to prevent them and how many times you should deworm him or her per year.
How does a dog get tapeworms?
Any infested dog (or another species) can eliminate parts of a tapeworm through their feces. It’s true that tapeworms reside in an animal’s intestines, but they can be broken down into segments.
If some of these pieces, which look like tiny grains of rice, are eliminated into the environment, other animals might come in contact with them and not just that -- they could even swallow them.
There are other ways a dog can get tapeworms. Some dogs can get them by eating other animals, while others can get them by swallowing a flea when they feel itchy. By the way, fleas are intermediary hosts for tapeworms, which is why keeping your pet flea-free is also paramount.
Medically treating tapeworms in dogs
If you have noticed the segments that we have mentioned and you have no idea what they might be, you should take your dog to the vet. In most cases, though, the veterinarian will tell you what over-the-counter medication you can use to treat and prevent intestinal parasites.
If you take your canine friend to the clinic, your dog will be tested for tapeworms. You will have to bring a feces sample which will be analyzed by a parasitologist.
There are several options when it comes to treating tapeworms with medication. You can use praziquantel, which is a prescription drug that effectively kills the parasites. While it is not usually associated with any adverse reactions, you should always give your dog the right dose -- otherwise, you run the risk of poisoning him or her.
These days, prescription drugs for tapeworms are available in other forms, too. If your dog isn’t exactly keen on the idea of taking pills, you can use chewables or granules instead. Plus, you will be happy to know that there are combination medications that can treat other worms, not just tapeworms -- from roundworms to hookworms.
The medication does come with one important requirement for you, though. You should never assume that just one dose is capable of killing the parasites. Often times, it merely kills the adults, but it leaves the larvae and the eggs behind. That is why a second dose is recommended around two weeks after the first has been administered.
If you decide to use any pharmaceutical product at home, get in touch with your vet first. Not all medications are safe, so it’s always best to get on the phone with someone who wants your dog to lead a happy and healthy life and who’s also a medical professional.
Can you get tapeworms from a dog?
The answer to this question is yes. However, the likelihood of this happening is low, but it can’t be ignored. So, how can you get it? Well, the easiest way to get tapeworms is to swallow a parasitic egg, a fragment of a worm, or an infected flea.
Most adults don’t get tapeworms from their canine friends, but kids are more exposed to this risk since they tend to spend more time on the grass in parks or other areas where a dog might have pooped.
You also have to consider that you pet your dog and accidentally touch his mouth, and he used the same mouth to lick his rear end. That’s how you could pick up larvae or segments of a tapeworm without even realizing it.
Can you prevent tapeworms with changes in your dog’s diet?
If your dog comes in contact with a tapeworm egg or segment, the infestation is going to happen. But there are some things that you could feed your dog to try to prevent a very severe infestation.
Since intestinal parasites love starch, it would be great if you could predominantly feed your dog canned or homemade food instead of kibble. Fermented veggies are great for the gut, too. Other foods that you can feed your dog and that offer results in this sense are kefir, greens, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar.
Garlic might have anti-parasitic properties, but it can be dangerous for dogs, especially in large amounts. It’s going to be challenging to convince your dog to eat garlic though, but you might have a better chance with garlic powder. In any case, use only a small amount, like an eighth of a teaspoon per pound of food.
How can you tell if your dog has tapeworms?
Besides the segments that we have already mentioned, dogs show some classic signs when they have a tapeworm infestation. Because the worms irritate the rectum of the dog, you will see the pet dragging his or her bottom across the floor or constantly licking his or her behind.
Dogs that have tapeworms for a long amount of time start to lose weight even though the amount of food ingested is the same. This happens both because the parasites consume the food instead of the animal and also because their eggs can end up in various other organs, not just the gut.
In the end, the best way to prevent or get rid of tapeworms in dogs would be to make sure that your dog doesn’t have any fleas. Have a talk with your veterinarian so as to create a deworming plan -- most dogs have to be dewormed at least twice a year.
If there are any small children living in your home, make sure that they don’t come in contact with any eggs or segments, so in other words, the dog’s poop.
Author: Cristina Vulpe