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How do you know if your pet has tapeworms?

How do you know if your pet has tapeworms?

Most owners detect the small, flat, white, rice-like segments of the tapeworm which are shed in the intestine and passed out the anus onto the hair or on the bowel movement. When these segments fall off the haircoat onto the bedding,, they dry and look like dried grains of rice, only flatter. These segments contain the tapeworm eggs. Evolution developed this nifty form of ensuring a continuing population of tapeworms by placing the egg containing segments in the same environment (the bedding where the pet lays) as the flea eggs which fall off the coat in the same location. When the flea eggs hatch, the flea larvae eat the tapeworm segments and become infected, allowing for the development of the tapeworm in the flea. When the flea is later groomed off the coat by the pet and ingested, the pet becomes infected with tapeworms.

You can often see the dried sections of tapeworm around the dogs anus. They resemble rice grains. Dogs will often scoot around on their rear end due to the irritation. You may see the moving segments of tapeworm in the dog's poop. Your vet may examine a smear from your dogs anus under a microscope.

Tapeworms are not directly infective. They must go through an intermediate host first (the flea or the rodent), before they can infect your pet.

Unfortunately, because the tapeworm eggs are encased in the segment, it is difficult to find them on a routine stool sample exam done by your veterinarian. Occasionally, we will pick up these worm eggs on the fecal exam, but only if a segment has broken apart in that particular sample of stool. So, a negative stool sample result at your pet's regular check up does not ensure that he is free from tapeworm infection.
Frequently tapeworm segments are presented for examination after they are dried. Although they may be difficult to identify in this condition; soaking them in water effectively restores their normal appearance.
Image showing: Frequently tapeworm segments are presented for examination after they are dried. Although they may be difficult to identify in this condition; soaking them in water effectively restores their normal appearance.


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