Sep 11 2015

I’d like to check you for ticks…and tapeworms!

large_tapewormBrad Paisley’s “I’d like to check you for ticks” reminds us of summer fun as well as unwanted friends we have picked up along the way! Read on to find out about Tapeworms, what to look for, and how to treat & prevent them!

Tapeworms Simplified:

What do they look like? Inside a pet, the adult tapeworm can be a half a foot long or more. It is made of small segments, each about the size of a grain of rice. The tapeworm’s head hooks onto the pet’s intestine with tiny teeth and the worm absorbs nutrients through its skin. Each segment contains a complete set of organs but as new segments grow in at the neck area the older segments progress to the tip of the tail. When the segment drops off from the tail tip, it is only a sac of eggs. This segment is white and able to move when it is fresh and, at this time, looks like a grain of white rice. As the segment dries, it looks more like a sesame seed.

How do you know if your pet has tapeworms? Because the eggs are shed intermittently, they sometimes do not show up on a fecal exam. The pet has tapeworms if segments are seen under the tail, near the anus, on the feces, or on the bedding. Segments can be passed in small groups connected to each other, leading the owner to describe a worm that sounds larger than a grain of rice. Tapeworm segments are also quite flat. Some people will mistake maggots in the stool for tapeworms. Maggots are not seen in freshly passed stool and are not flat. It is rare, but the whole worm can sometimes die and be passed.

large_tapeworm life cycleDid you know tapeworms are spread by fleas? How do you get rid of them? Give us a call and we will be glad to help you choose the correct dewormer! Only one treatment is needed to kill the tapeworms, but not just any dewormer will do. Over the counter products usually kill hookworms and roundworms but do not cover tapeworms. A second treatment in as little as three weeks may be needed since it can take 3 months to get a flea population under control and your pet can become re-infected while the flea infestation is being dealt with. Our recommendation is that you give us a call whenever segments are seen & keep your pet on flea prevention to avoid a reinfection. We also have a special going on where you can try NexGard for free! NexGard is an oral chewy that lasts 30 days to prevent fleas and ticks! Give us a call (210-651-1384) or e-mail ( us for your free dose!

If one pet has tapeworm should Every Pet Be Dewormed? No, just because one pet in the household has swallowed an infected flea does not mean they all have. Our recommendation is to deworm only the pets who have obvious tapeworms.

tapeworm back endCan people get them? Yes, people can get them but they must be infected the same way dogs and cats are: by swallowing an infected flea.

How do I know the dewormer worked? I’m seeing them again after treatment! You may see segments for a couple days after deworming but if it has been a couple weeks, it is likely a reinfection and requires another round. While many people would like to blame the medication as ineffective, the truth is that there must be an on-going flea population in the pet’s environment. The key to eradicating tapeworms is flea control. We love NexGard, the chewy that prevents fleas and ticks for 30 days! We are currently giving out a free dose of flea and tick prevention (NexGard) that lasts for 30 days so call (210-651-1384) or e-mail us ( if you would like to try NexGard for free!

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