How Do Dogs Get Tapeworms? (symptoms, prevention & treatment)

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Tapeworms in dogs are incredibly common. It’s estimated that around 3% of all canines will get some variety of tapeworm at some point in their lives.

Tapeworms are common intestinal parasites that live in dogs and other animals’ small intestines. They don’t usually cause serious problems to adult dogs but can be harmful to puppies. 

Knowing how dogs get tapeworms can help you prevent potential infection before it gets out of hand. 

Tapeworms are different from other types of intestinal parasites; Pups cannot be infected by eating tapeworm eggs. It must pass through the intermediate host first, just like fleas before it can infect your dog.

The most common way dogs can get tapeworms is by consuming a flea that has tapeworm eggs in its larvae. Dogs can easily become infected with tapeworms, and they can spread in many ways, depending on the species. 

In the following paragraphs, I will be discussing everything you need to know about tapeworms in dogs. It will help you understand what they are, how they are transmitted, and most importantly how to treat them.

But before I proceed, let’s take a brief look at the meaning of tapeworms.

What Are Tapeworms?

Tapeworms are parasites that live in dogs and other animals’ small intestines. They are flat, segmented intestinal parasites that belong to a family of worms known as cestodes. There are many types of tapeworms and your dogs can become infected with several types of tapeworms. Dipylidium caninum is the most common type of tapeworm seen in dogs.

How Do Dogs Get Tapeworms?

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Dogs get tapeworms from fleas. Fleas are not tapeworms themselves, but they can carry tapeworm eggs. These eggs hatch in the pet’s intestines and then grow into worms. You can treat tapeworm infection with medication, but prevention and keeping your pet free of fleas is the best medicine.

Dealing with tapeworms in dogs is a very difficult situation for most owners. 

The following are some of the ways your dog can get tapeworms.

  1. Eating of fleas: one of the most common types of tapeworm in dogs is transmitted by a flea. Your dog can ingest or bite fleas that carry tapeworm larvae during grooming. This will then develop into adult tapeworms in the dog’s intestines. This means that tapeworms must first live inside a flea before they can be transmitted to your dog.
  2. Eating infected animals: Eating infected animals is another way your dog can get tapeworm diseases. Your dog can get tapeworms by eating infected animals. If your dog likes hunting, he can contract tapeworms from eating other infected animals, like birds, rodents that have eaten the worm’s eggs.
  3. Eating raw meat: dogs can become infected with tapeworms by eating raw meat. This is because dogs can get tapeworm through raw meat. You should not allow your dog to eat unconfirmed animal meat outdoors. Also, wash your hands properly after touching raw meat in the kitchen.

Signs of Tapeworms in Dogs

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Dogs don’t often show visible signs of tapeworm infection at the early stage, but that does not mean that you can’t detect them if you know what to look out for. 

Tapeworms can be irritating to a dog’s butt, so the most common sign that your dog might have tapeworm is its tendency to scoot her butt along the ground. 

Other signs of tapeworms in dogs may include the following:

1. Worm Segments in Your Dog Poop

The most common proven sign you can notice is the presence of tiny worm segments in your dog’s poop or around your dog’s rear end. They can also be seen on the dog bedding. These may look like moving pieces of rice or hard yellow specks that can stick to your dog coat.

2. Scooting

Another sign that your dog may have a tapeworm is when the dog is always scooting his butt on the ground. 

Your dog can do this because the tail end segments of the tapeworm are irritating to the dog. 

When you notice this, take your dog to the vet who will understand the cause of this discomfort.

3. Weight Loss

In severe cases of infection, your furry pal may lose weight even when eating well. 

This is because tapeworms feed on the nutrients in the dog’s stomach. 

A lot of things can cause weight loss. If there are no obvious reasons to lose weight, like increasing exercise or changing the diet, your dog may need to see a veterinarian for assessment.

4. Vomiting

When tapeworms grow inside your dog, they can cause vomiting. You may see parts of the worm or the entire worm in your dog’s vomit. 

Vomiting can indicate a variety of other problems, from indigestion to more serious conditions. But if your furry pal shows other symptoms, like severe diarrhea or lethargy, you need to see your vet immediately.

5. Abdominal Pain

This is another sign of tapeworm in dogs. The dog will bite and lick at his belly, and will generally feel lethargic, and will not want to get out of bed. 

The dog may also stand bent or slightly bowed and may moan or howl to let you know about the pain he or she is going through.

6. Nervousness

Your furry pal will act very paranoid and will be a bit nervous in the company of others. You may notice your dog is growling, panting, or pacing more than usual and any loud noise will make him lose control.

How to Prevent Tapeworms in Dogs? 

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The best method for preventing tapeworm infection in dogs is to keep your dog free of fleas

Also, your surrounding environment must be treated to avoid recurrence infestation. 

The following are some of the steps you can prevent tapeworms in your dogs:

  1. Since fleas are the major cause of tapeworm, you can control your dog, your home, and your yard. Discuss with your vet about flea powders, sprays, collars, oral medications, and topical liquid treatments. You can check Amazon for the best flea prevention in dogs.
  2.  Do not allow your furry pal to roam unsupervised, particularly in places where other dogs can have been infected. Ask your vet to treat your dog immediately if they are infected with tapeworms. 
  3. Do not allow your dogs to play without supervision in areas that are contaminated with dog feces or other animal droppings. Teach kids to always wash their hands after playing with pets and after playing outside.

How to Treat Tapeworms in Dogs

There are many safe medications to treat tapeworms in dogs. Consult your vet for the right prescription for your pup. Dog deworming medications can be given as injections or tablets. 

The medicine will dissolve the worms, therefore you won’t notice them pass by when your dog uses the toilet. 

These medications are very safe and should not have any side effects.

A medication known as praziquantel is used to treat tapeworms in dogs, it can be administered either by injection or orally. This drug causes the tapeworm to dissolve in the intestine. And it generally does not have harmful side effects.

Other prescriptions that are effective in treating tapeworms in dogs include Panacur C Canine Dewormer, this medication is effective in treating tapeworms and other kinds of worms in dogs.

FAQ About Tapeworm in Dogs

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What Are The First Signs of Tapeworms in Dogs?

The earliest stages of tapeworm infection in dogs can be difficult to detect any signs. At this stage, the worms remain hidden within your dog’s intestines, as the tapeworm grows it begins to shed egg-filled segments that irritate the dog’s bottom as they escape from the anus.

It may be seen as what looks like grains of rice in dog poop. This is a common symptom of tapeworm infection in dogs.

Can Dogs Get Tapeworms From Another Dog?

The straight answer is No, dogs cannot directly get tapeworms from another dog. Some people believe that dogs can get tapeworms after a lot of contact with an infected dog. But tapeworms need an intermediate host like a flea. 

A flea eats tapeworm eggs from an infected dog. Your furry pal can then eat the fleas and that is how they get infected.

What Is The Most Common Type of Tapeworm Infection in Dogs?

Tapeworms are very common in all species, with symptoms of infection ranging from none to mild intestinal discomfort, liver damage, and even death. The most common type of tapeworm infection in dogs is known as Dipylidium caninum. The infection is commonly found all over the world.

How Often Do Dogs Get Tapeworms?

As fleas are the major cause of tapeworm infestations in dogs, the infestations are really common in areas with heavy flea infestation. How often dogs get tapeworms depends on how often they are exposed to these fleas. Dogs that always hunt or have flea problems can be treated every two to three months.

Dogs that are not exposé should be treated at least once a year. You should discuss this with your vet for more advice.


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As you can see, your dog can get tapeworms by eating fleas. The best way to prevent dogs from contracting tapeworm is to keep your dogs on good flea prevention treatment. 

You don’t have to worry if your dog has a tapeworm. They are easy to treat; you just need to consult your vet, and look for the best products that contains praziquantel for effective tapeworm treatment. 

That being said, there is nothing left but to thank you for your attention up to this point.

I hope I have been helpful, and I wish you many moments of joy and satisfaction in the company of your beloved dog.

If you enjoyed this article don’t forget to share it with your friends.  

Until next time!

A big hug.

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Housam Ayouni
Housam Ayouni

I am a professional in the field of canine behavior and care with many years of experience. Through my dog blog, which has reached over one million dog owners, I offer practical tips and guidance to support dog owners in creating strong, positive relationships with their pets and promoting the well-being and happiness of all dogs. My goal is to help dog owners create a harmonious and fulfilling life with their furry companions.

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