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The tapeworm is a parasite found in the intestines of dogs and cats.  It consists of a head and a long flat body made up of segments.  Segments are passed in the animal's feces, leaving the head still attached to the animal's intestinal lining, where it produces new segments.  Tapeworm infection may not cause noticeable illness in your pet, or it may produce digestive upsets, poor appetite, poor hair coat and skin, weight loss, and vague signs of abdominal discomfort. 

Tapeworm infection is diagnosed by finding the segments in your pet's feces, in its bed or clinging to the hair around the anus.  When first passed, segments are yellowish to white, about 1/4 inch long, and may expand and contract.  When dry, the segments resemble cucumber seeds or grains of rice.

Unfortunately, tapeworms are not often seen on the routine fecals we run.  In fact, the Taenia species of tapeworm is seen on 33% of the time that it is actually there, and the Diplidium species is NEVER seen.  For this reason, we recommend treating all cats for tapeworms once yearly regardless of signs or fecal results, and treating outdoor cats 4 times a year!

Tapeworms are not passed directly from pet to pet, but require an intermediate host in which to develop.  Common intermediate hosts are fleas and small animals, such as mice, rats, squirrels, and rabbits. Fish are the intermediate host for one type of tapeworm.  So, if your pet is a good little hunter, they are at risk for tapeworm.  Any any pet that grooms himself and accidentally swallows a flea is susceptible.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Treatment will destroy the tapeworms already infecting your pet.  Reinfection is controlled by eliminating or reducing contact with intermediate hosts.

2. Control:

  • For flea control, use Revolution as follows:  every 2 weeks for three treatments, then once monthly year round
  • Treat the premises, kennels and bedding as follows: Mycodex spray now and again in 3 weeks
  • Do not allow your pet to hunt or eat small rodents and/or raw fish.

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur:

  • Your pet vomits or has diarrhea.
  • Tapeworm segments are still seen after the prescribed treatment.
  • Your pet continues to lose weight.

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