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The Link Between Fleas & Tapeworms

April 09, 2020

How Your Dog Gets Tapeworms

There are a number of different internal parasites that can affect our dogs throughout their life, and most rely on direct contact to enter their systems. Typically this means that your dog will step on soil or in water that has been contaminated and then lick his feet, or eat/drink contaminated materials, thereby ingesting parasitic eggs. These eggs will continue to develop into parasites, usually affecting the intestinal tract. Tapeworms are an exception, and dogs cannot become infected in this way.

Tapeworms Are Transmitted Through Fleas

Tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum) need to pass through what we call an “intermediate host” which is typically a flea. The host can also be a mouse (Taenia sp. of tapeworm), but cats are more prone than dogs to acquiring this type of tapeworm from eating mice. Also, tapeworms cannot be passed directly from dog to dog as they need to live out part of their lifecycle in the flea before being able to affect your pet. How does this work?

The tapeworm eggs are shed in stools of affected animals but are in protected sacs that will dissolve in the environment, thereby releasing the eggs. Immature flea larvae will eat the eggs and then the tapeworm continues to develop into its larval form inside of the flea. This is all a very microscopic but precise process! The larval flea will develop normally into an adult, and it will continue to harbour the tapeworm larvae. A dog who is infested with fleas will need to ingest an affected flea (generally when grooming or responding to being bitten), and the larvae will continue its development in the dog’s intestine and become the adult tapeworms.

How Tapeworms Are Diagnosed

Unlike other intestinal worms, tapeworms typically cannot be diagnosed by a stool sample through your veterinarian’s laboratory services. This is because the worm segments are only shed intermittently in the feces and are often actually crawling around the anal area. They are white or yellow in color, and approximately the size and shape of a grain of rice. These shedded segments contain the sacs of eggs that eventually dissolve in the environment to continue the life cycle. Therefore the clinical diagnosis is usually made through visually identifying the segments on or around the dog.

Conventional Tapeworm Treatment

Tapeworms are treated conventionally by a deworming medication called Praziquantel, and is usually prescribed by your veterinarian. This drug breaks up the tapeworms so that they die and are digested, and they aren’t seen being passed in the stool.

Probiotics for Tapeworms

Depending on the sensitivity of your pet, it can be a good idea to also add a probiotic supplement like Truly Sensible’s ProLeviate to aid the digestive tract. Probiotics also improve immunity by balancing gut bacteria, which is important since the intestinal tract serves as one of the largest parts of all of our immune systems.

Diatomaceous Earth to Kill Tapeworms

An alternative treatment for tapeworm infections in dogs has been researched is Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth. This natural earth is derived from a kind of algae called Diatoms (part of plankton). When they die, they sink to the seafloor and become a sediment that is mined for its various health benefits.

How does it kill worms? This special earth is very porous and acts as an adsorbent which dehydrates the worm, thereby killing them. Diatomaceous Earth is available in powder or capsule form, and it’s very important to make sure you purchase the Food-Grade variety as it will be digested and work effectively for your pet.

Conclusion - Controlling Fleas Is Essential to Preventing Tapeworms

The key to preventing tapeworms is effective flea control for your dog, which also will eliminate any potential infections for your family. You can control fleas in a variety of ways, but we recommend EnviroCollar and/or EnviroCide for prevention, and EnviroPowder which kills fleas within 48 hours if your dog has an active infestation.

 

Although you cannot get tapeworms from your dog directly, it is possible that a human can swallow a flea and become infected. Therefore, it’s especially important to protect both your dog and your environment from these troublesome parasites!

Jeanette Johnstone
Veterinary Technician, Co-Founder - AMOR Animales de Nosara Rescue



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Flea & Tick Powder with No Synthetic Pesticides

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EnviroCollar

Flea & Tick Repellent Collar

Plant Based Active Ingredients

Repels 30 Days

 

Combo

Kill & Repel Fleas and Ticks

Eliminates Infestations

Repels 30 Days

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