A tapeworm is a free-living segmented parasite that lives in the small intestine. The most common called Dipylidium caninum is transmitted to your dog or cat when it accidentally eats a carrier flea or flea larva. A mature tapeworm passes egg-filled segments in a pet's feces. When fresh, these egg sacs can be up to a cm long. When dry they appear like grains of rice in the hair around the anus. Tapeworms rarely cause clinical disease in pets although we have seen a Dachshund incapable of eating because it had such a large tapeworm in its intestines.

Diagnosis and treatment

Tapeworms are usually diagnosed when you see tapeworm segments in the feces or the hair around the anus. Dipylidium should be expected in any dog or cat that has had a heavy flea infestation. We use a variety of highly effective against all forms of tapeworms.

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