What are the Health Risks if my Dog has Tapeworms?
A light tapeworm infestation may not show symptoms in a
healthy adult dog. But tapeworms steal nutrients from a dog,
and if the dog is a working or high performance dog it may
be weaker than it should be.
If the adult tapeworm detaches from the intestinal wall and
travel to the stomach they may make the dog vomit. Tapeworms
are made up of many small brick-like segments with a tiny
head at one end. An entire adult tapeworm can have as many
as ninety segments. Dog tapeworm bodies are flattened, not
round like the roundworm, the most common worm in dogs.
If the infection becomes too heavy the dog may begin to lose
weight or become anemic and weak. In rare cases may move
into the dog's respiratory system and cause breathing
In puppies a heavy infestation with tapeworms can cause the
puppy to fail to grow properly because the worms are
depriving it of nutrition. The puppy may also become anemic,
and intestinal blockage by the large adult worms is not
Tapeworms can also be transmitted to humans. Of course that
is less likely than that Dipylidium caninum is passed to
other animals in the household, since humans don't
voluntarily eat fleas, but it has happened before,
especially with children.
Two other types of tapeworms that affect dogs can also
infest humans. Taenia and Echinococcus species use small
rodents, rabbits, or large animals like sheep or deer as
intermediate hosts, and a dog that eats an infested animal
can then pass the eggs to the ground where they may be
picked up in dirt when children play outdoors and then put
their hands into their mouths.
These tapeworms can cause serious disease in humans. These
species of tapeworm are not common in the United States, but
are common in some other localities. Fortunately these
tapeworms are easily treated by a doctor.
Tapeworm eggs don't show up well in routine fecal analyses,
so if you spot the telltale egg sacs that look like white
rice in the feces or caught in the hair below the tail, tell
Keep your Dog Vibrantly Healthy