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How to Prevent Tapeworms in Dogs

We do our best to take care of our dogs but every once in a while conditions like tapeworms can sneak up on us. In this article, we will talk about what tapeworms are, how to prevent tapeworms in dogs, and what is the treatment if preventatives fail.

How to Prevent Tapeworms in Dogs

How to Know if Your Dog Has a Tapeworm

You may discover little dried rice-looking kernels in your dog’s bedding as it is common for them to exit the anus while they are resting.

Once the tapeworm segments are exposed to air, they dry out – hence the dried rice-looking kernels.

You may also notice small rice-looking segments in your dog’s stool. These segments will be moving for a short time until they dry out.

Don’t panic but this means your dog has a tapeworm! 

Rodents and fleas are the big carriers of tapeworms.

While we can control fleas with preventative, controlling a dog that loves to hunt and dine on rodents, rabbits, etc. is a little harder to do.

Let’s dive into some info about these nasty critters.

Cute beagle standing by a tree

How Do Dogs Get Tapeworms

Dogs get tapeworms from swallowing fleas – another reason to make sure your dog is protected from a flea infestation!

They can also get tapeworms from rodents who harbor tapeworm eggs in their bodies.

Once in your dog’s system, they grow in the small intestine of the dog.

The head attaches itself to the wall, plus ever-increasing segments filled with eggs that break off and are seen in the feces or wiggling at the anal opening.

EEW! Right?

Closeup of a beautiful brown dog with golden eyes

What Do Tapeworms Look Like

Again, tapeworms can be seen in your dog’s stool and/or in their bedding.

They look a lot like maggots when they’re still alive and resemble rice kernels when they dry out.

In your dog’s intestine, tapeworms can grow to several feet in length when they are left untreated.

These tapeworms are icky-looking but are not dangerous.

Other Kinds of Tapeworms

There are other types of tapeworms that infest raw fresh fish and raw meat.

They are extremely dangerous to humans, who can acquire them through contact with the dog’s feces.

The tapeworm (Echinococcus granulosus) can be found in the southern, western, and southwestern United States in sheep, deer, elk, pigs, horses, and other domestic livestock.

To prevent your dog from becoming infested with this type of tapeworm keep them away from the uncooked meat of these animals and from uncooked fish.

If your dog gets a tapeworm, conventional chemical worming may not kill the head and it could grow a new body and start over again.

Dr. Richard Pitcairn, a holistic doctor, suggests that a fresh diet will build up a dog’s immunity to all parasites, including tapeworms, and there’s a good possibility you won’t have to resort to chemicals to rid your dog of a tapeworm.

Remember, in a fresh diet, use no commercial pet foods.

Brown and white beagle standing in tall grass

Measures to Help Prevent Tapeworms

Dr. Pitcairn, suggests some natural anti-tapeworm measures are whole, raw pumpkin seeds kept at room temperature in sealed containers, ground into a fine meal, and consumed immediately.

He recommends 1/4 to 1 teaspoon added to each meal, depending on the dog’s size.

There are also other tapeworm preventatives, i.e., wheat germ oil, 1/4 to 1 teaspoon with meals; vegetable enzymes, which will erode the outer coating of the tapeworm; or add chopped or ground dried figs to meals; Papaya or enzyme supplements containing papain are also useful.

Pet Nutritionist, Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D., advises using raw, fresh veggies in the diet because parasites don’t like veggies. 

Practicing good flea control is a MUST if you want to prevent canine tapeworms, and if your dog is a hunter, keep its immunity up to tapeworms and other parasites with a good natural foods diet.

Brown and white beagle at the vet office

Tapeworm Treatment

Sometimes dogs will still get tapeworms even with preventive measures.

So, now what?

Treating tapeworms is a relatively easy fix with the proper medication.

Most common dewormers for stomach worms will not get rid of a tapeworm as they need a particular chemical to get rid of them.

Your veterinarian can prescribe a drug call praziquantel. 

Praziquantel is a prescription drug that can be given orally or by injection.

This medication works by dissolving the tapeworm within the intestine.

From personal experience, it is usually prescribed as two doses given a month apart.

If your dog is a skilled hunter and connoisseur of rodent fare, i.e., cottontails, jackrabbits, rats, or ground squirrels they are at high risk for tapeworms and should be treated for Dipylidium caninum (tapeworm) every six to twelve months.

Debbie P

Thursday 9th of December 2021

Thanks for this informative and interesting article.

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